Prompts: cardboard cut-out ; exhale; brittle ; gleam ; acrid
The corridor was quiet. Mags could hear noises off while she waited; the other children in the playground, a teacher’s laugh from the lounge. They sat around a large table at Eleven, little break, while outside the children played. She wasn’t outside today. Today she was sent to the Principal’s office.
At the end of the corridor was a statute of the Virgin Mary. She had at her feet a bouquet of flowers and she held her hands out as if to say “Arragh, now, what the shite is this?!” Mary, born without sin. Had to be without sin, so she’d have a womb good enough for that son of hers, the one that never left home till he was 30. Blessed is she amongst women. Nice qualifier there, big of the Church to grant her that much. Creeps.
Course, Mary was held up as the ideal to the girls. What the nuns really wanted was perfection, a cardboard cut out, no one real at all. Someone with smooth hair who was popular at the tennis club. That *had* been Emer O’Neil, who’s Dad was rich and who was blonde, thin, perfect. Knobbly knees that tanned in the Summer. But then she’d gotten pregnant at 17 and the rest of the girls had exhaled in horrified fascination at it. Surely she could have had it abroad, come back to her life? But no. This was to be faced. Emer’s boyfriend got a job in the firm and life went back to boring Sunday lunches. A whisper of gossip to follow her and that was that.
Sr. Calistia was really keeping her waiting. Maybe she had forgotten she was out here. She’d have to explain, again, about the note from Mum, and how she was leaving early today for a job interview in the local paper. It wouldn’t be so bad if she didn’t have to listen to the brittle laughs of disbelief from old Big Nose. A job! Was that the new thing now? And was her mother the type of woman to let her daughter ignore her exams? Throw away her future? How her eyes would gleam as she got into it, throwing out comments about her family, her brothers, her sister. She didn’t mind about her sister who, yes, was a bit of a snob but her brothers were all right. And her Mum was a lady, a gentle lady. She was never angry or bitter, unlike Sr Calista who seemed more acrid the older Mags got. She supposed it was because she was fading away. They all were, it seemed. Just drifting into mists and soon they would struggle to remember all this… restriction. Daft old thing.
The door behind her finally opened. “All right, Madam, in you come,” said the Principal. She hopped up and walked in, closing the door behind her. In a moment, the corridor returned to silence again, with only the drifting motes to show there had been motion.