Chapter XIII

Maxine stretched and yawned, then rubbed her eyes and scolded herself for being awake so early. "Come on, Sunday is the only day they let me sleep past 7 a.m., and I'm already awake," she scolded herself, taking her watch off and throwing it in frustration across the room. She rolled over and covered her head with her pillow, refusing to get up before the sun was up. Her body relaxed and she snuggled herself deeper into the bed she had slowly learned to like over the past two months.

She had been working hard helping the nuns with the barn, getting up before sunrise and working non-stop until lunchtime. Her afternoons were usually spent helping whoever needed help. She made it a point everyday to come in contact with Ann, and their relationship had slowly grown into a trusting friendship. She felt surprisingly at home in the old convent and the rebel attitude of her first week was a thing of the past. She had not had any cravings in over a month, and when she looked at herself in the mirror, the bags under her eyes were gone and her bony face had filled up and now looked healthy.


Ann woke up as usual before the sun was up. She slowly sat up and shivered at the feel of the cold hardwood floor on her bare feet. She put on her slippers, tucked her comforter around her shoulders and made her way to her desk. She carefully opened her journal, and let her pen glide across the blank pages, sharing her most private thoughts and hopes. She smiled at the memory of Maxine covered in mud from head to toe after falling into a puddle while trying to catch some chickens that had escaped from their coop. Her face hardened while she expressed her concerns for the future of the convent and the money problem they were facing. She wrote how she hoped Mother Clarence would let Maxine help them convince the town not to evict them. She finished her writing and closed her trusty journal. She stretched before heading to the bathroom to get ready for mass.


The service on Sunday morning was always longer than on any other day of the week, and Ann always found her mind wandering. This Sunday was no exception, and as she sat on the wooden bench, her hands folded and her head bowed in prayer, she couldn't help but wonder if Maxine was already up and whether the actress would join them for breakfast. She had slowly learned over the past few weeks to trust the older woman, and had watched her progress with pride. In Maxine's company she felt relaxed and could almost forget that they were from different worlds. Maxine proved to be patient and never asked Ann for any information she wasn't already volunteering. Maxine was also one of the few who, despite knowing about Ann's past and the loss of her family, seemed to be able to accept it without pitying her.

The service ended and Ann stepped out of the chapel behind the crowd of nuns on their way toward breakfast, but a young man entering the convent diverted her attention. She broke from the crowd and walked towards him, recognizing Maxine's brother.

"Hello, how can I help you?"

"Hi, I'm Gregor...Gregor Johnston. Maxine's brother," rushed Gregor, taking off his cap, suddenly embarrassed to have been caught covered in front of a sister.

"Yes, I recognize you. Does Mother Clarence know you are here?" asked Ann.

"She contacted me...I think my sister is better and ready to go I quote."

Ann, unprepared for Gregor's answer felt her heart speed up and cold sweat ran down her back. "If you follow me, I'll take you to Mother Clarence's office." She led the way followed by Gregor, her mind racing fast, evaluating the different scenarios following his visit. The idea of Maxine leaving to go back to Los Angeles panicked her, and it suddenly dawned on her that their walks in the garden, long talks late at night or even just their brief exchange of glances while running to do their chores had become an addiction to her. She knocked at Mother Clarence's door faintly.

"Come on in!"

Ann stepped in and opened the door to let Gregor in. "Maxine's brother is here to see you."

Yes, Mister Johnston," smiled Mother Clarence, taking off her glasses and motioning for him to sit down. "You may leave us Sister Ann." Ann nodded and retreated to the door. "One more thing. Would you tell Miss Johnston that her brother is here?"

"Should I send her down to see you?"

"Yes, please. Mother Clarence waited for Ann to close the door before directing her attention to Gregor.


Maxine opened her eyes and growled at the insistent knocking. "Come on guys, it's Sunday. Don't I get a break?" She yelled across the room while making her way to the door. She cracked it open, then worriedly opening it the rest of the way to let Ann stepped in upon seeing the nun's scared expression. "Wow, what's going on?"

"You brother is here."

Maxine's face broke into a smile. She missed him. He had been her constant partner, her pillar of strength when she felt like giving up. He had saved her life by forcing her to come here, and she couldn't wait to give him a hug and thank him for it. "That's great!" she smiled, rushing to put a sweatshirt on over her tank top. "Where is he?"

"In Mother Clarence's office," said Ann flatly before turning to leave.

"Wait! What's wrong? You're acting as if something awful just happened," Maxine asked, concerned at the young woman's pale face. She moved a little closer. "Are you all right?"

Ann found herself at a loss, not understanding her reaction, not knowing what to say. Her fear of seeing Maxine leave was incomprehensible, and explaining that was impossible.

"Everything is fine. I haven't had anything to eat yet. I think that's why I feel a little weak."

Maxine hesitated, but the excitement of seeing her brother after so many weeks took over. "All right, I'll see you later then," she smiled, turning around to pull her hair into a ponytail and grab her shoes.

" Sure...I'll see you later on," said Ann sadly before leaving.

To be Continued

copyright(c)malaurie barber 2001

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