Chapter III

Maxine woke up feeling slightly better. She wasn't sure how long she had slept or what day of the week it was, but her stomach didn't seem to be acting up anymore, and that was all that mattered to her. She sat up and reached for her discarded jeans lying at the end of her bed.

"Glad to see you're awake."

She looked through the darkened room and could barely see a figure sitting at the table. "Sister Ann?"

The figure emerged from the dark corner and flipped the lights on. "Hi, I'm Sister Margaret. I'm filling in for Sister Ann."

"I thought I was her special patient," Maxine said sarcastically, fumbling through her pockets in search of her watch. "Damn, where is my watch?"

"It's 5:30p.m.," answered the nun with a soft voice. "How are you feeling?"

"Better." Maxine gave up on her watch and propped herself up on her pillow.

The nun picked up her chair and moved it closer to the bed, allowing Maxine the to see her face clearly for first time. She was older than Sister Ann. Her eyebrows were wide and as black as a crow, her nose was long and thin, and the combination of the two almost hid her brown eyes. She smiled genuinely at Maxine. "You are Sister Ann's patient, but she asked me to watch over you while she was teaching."

"She's teaching?"

"Yes, three times a week young children come up from the village and Sister Ann teaches them music."

Maxine nodded, and looked at Sister Margaret sarcastically. "I thought the only thing nuns knew how to do was pray and knit!"

The nun got up, choosing to ignore Maxine. She had herself taken care of alcohol-and drug-addicted patients, and she knew the drill well. They would try anything to get a rise out of you, and with time Margaret had learned to ignore them. "I think you should eat something."

"I don't think I can."

"I wasn't really asking," answered Sister Margaret kindly, bringing a bowl of soup to Maxine and giving it to her. "You can either eat it yourself or I can feed it to you. Your choice." She smiled and waited for Maxine to make her decision.

Maxine looked at the insistent nun and gave up, refusing to be humiliated by being spoon-fed by the nun. She brought the bowl to her lips and wet them slightly with the warm beverage. When her stomach didn't revolt, she became more adventurous and started swallowing the thick liquid, finishing it quickly. She handed the bowl back to the nun.

"You see? It wasn't so bad."

"Is Ann...I mean Sister Ann coming back tonight?"

"Yes," answered Sister Margaret, settling into her chair.

"Are you just going to stay here and stare at me?" asked Maxine with annoyance.

"I told Sister Ann I would look after you."

"Well, I'm feeling better, and I don't need a chaperon." Maxine sat up and swung her leg over the edge of the bed. "I'm going to go and take a shower. Now are you going to come in with me also?" She got up carefully, making sure her legs were strong and steady and walked to the corner of the room where her bag was kept. She looked through the large brown leather bag and took out a pair of sweats and a T-shirt. As she searched for some clean socks, her fingers came into contact with a small plastic bag. Her heart skipped a beat as her fingers dug into the plastic, sinking into smooth white powder. She discretely put the bag under her shirt and stood up. "I can find the bathroom on my own."

Maxine locked the bathroom door behind her, and quickly took the small plastic bag from under her shirt. She remembered using the same carry-on a few weeks ago. She had spent the weekend at a friend's house and had brought her own supplies for the weekend, but ended up not using everything. She couldn't comprehend how her brother had missed it when packing her bag. She slowly opened the bag while trying-and failing-to talk herself out of sniffing any of the white substance.

"Just one... I just need one more fix." She quickly looked around for a flat sheet, so she could spread out the drug, but the room was mostly bare like most of the rooms in the convent. Out of despair, she dropped to her knees and sprinkled a small amount of cocaine on the brown tile floor. She laid on her stomach and brought her face as close as she could to the white powder, plugged one of her nostrils and inhaled deeply. She closed her eyes, and smacked her lips together before going back for one more round. Slowly getting up Maxine shed her clothes and smiled at her reflection in the mirror before stepping into the shower. She stood under the warm water, letting her head rest against the cold marble and feeling the drug slowly taking effect. When she finally stepped out of the shower, she felt energized. She put on her sweat and t-shirt and held onto the sink to put on her socks. She closed the plastic bag and hid it under her shirt before slowly walking back to her room. A quick look at her discarded watch informed her it was 6:30. She returned the bag to its previous hiding spot and flopped onto her bed. She felt better than she had the whole day, and her stomach cramps seemed to have totally disappeared.

After half an hour of lying on her bed, the silence of the room and its surrounding started to annoy Maxine. She sat up and readjusted the sleeves of her sweatshirt, neatly folding them just above her wrists. As the minutes passed, her annoyance slowly changed to anger, and she found herself pacing around the room, looking angrily at the door, and mumbling incomprehensible words to herself. She was getting ready to storm out when she was stopped by a slight knock at the door. "Come in," she yelled.

Ann popped her head through the door and smiled at Maxine as she entered. "Hi. Sister Margaret told me you were feeling better."

Maxine took a few quick steps toward the nun and stopped only a few inches from her. Her green eyes were foggy and her pupils were dilated. "Where were you?" She demanded menacingly.

The nun looked at Maxine, not understanding her sudden anger. "I'm sure you were told I was teaching."

"I thought I was your Žspecial case'." Maxine's voice had taken a sudden turn from anger to surliness. She kept inching toward Ann, forcing her back against the closed door. She then grabbed Ann's face with her right hand and put the left one against the door behind her head. "I heard nuns were a good lay," she said vulgarly, lightly running her thumb over Ann's lower lips.

"Let me go, Miss Johnston," said Ann forcefully, trying to hide her creeping panic.

"Why? We could have a little in this dump is so boring. I've been here for less than two days and I'm already bored." Maxine moved her left hand to join the other on Ann's face before being slapped across the face by the young nun. The sudden slap made Maxine release her grip on Ann's face. She stepped back, touching her cheek, her movements extremely slow. An unexpected wave of nausea suddenly hit her and she doubled in pain, vomiting the soup she had eaten earlier.

Ann stood at the door dumbfounded, watching this woman who, a few minutes ago was a threat to her, and was now reduced to a ball on the floor.

"I'm sorry, "said Maxine, holding her stomach, before once again doubling over. Ann didn't answer, walked up to Maxine's bed, and tore the sheets off. She looked under the bed, in the pillowcase and in every possible corner she could think off.

"What are you doing?" asked Maxine, trying to get up.

"Look at you!" yelled Ann, trying to contain herself, and remembering the vows she made when becoming a nun. Stay calm, she told herself, taking a deep breath. "You used again. I don't know how and when, but I know you did and it's got to be in this room, if there is any left." The sparsely furnished room left few hiding places, and Ann's eyes quickly spotted the leather bag in the corner of the room. She rushed to it, and turned it over, dumping its content on the floor. The small plastic bag fell and landed among a pile of sweatshirts and socks. Ann slowly picked it up and walked back to Maxine who had managed to drag herself back onto the bed. "You couldn't resist, could you? You were willing to ignore the pain you went through today to get high." Ann's fingers dug angrily into the smooth surface. "I might be a nun, but I'm not stupid."

"I will bring this matter up to Mother Clarence and I am requesting a change of assignment, but I really doubt you'll be staying much longer. After all, isn't that what you wanted?" Ann let the empty plastic bag fall on the floor and walked to the door, turning to Maxine one last time. "Also, you will please fix your bed and clean up the floor from what ever it is you threw up." She then stepped out and closed the door behind her, leaving Maxine alone.

To be continued
copyright(c)malaurie barber 2001

Feeb the bard

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