Ann knocked at Mother Clarence's door and waited for an answer. A dry "Come in" was heard behind the closeddoor and Ann pushed it open hesitantly, closely followed by Maxine.
"You wanted to see us," Ann stated as if to explain her intrusion into the older woman's office.
"Yes. Please have a seat."
Maxine had already sat down before being given the authorization. She smiled faintly and glanced at Ann, taking in the nervousness emanating from the young nun and bracing herself for what she knew was going to be an argument. Mother Clarence's office was located in the East side of the building and the bright early sunlight shone strongly through the large windows. Maxine squinted against the sun and tried to focus her attention on Mother Clarence who looked concerned by the morning's events. She smacked her lips together and brought her chair closer to her desk before speaking.
"Sister Ann, I have to say that sometimes I don't understand your thinking. It is in our rules that no one not belonging to our community be admitted to any of those meetings. Yet you bring your patient along with you and allow her to interfere in a matter that does not concern her."
Ann's head had dropped and she was staring at her joined hands nervously poised on her lap. She knew the severity of the situation, and had not planned on Maxine speaking up. She slowly raised her head and humbly looked at Mother Clarence. "I apologize. After what happened yesterday, I ordered my patient not to leave my side until further notice and I didn't want to take the risk of leaving her alone."
Mother Clarence nodded, but her grave expression remained. "Sister Ann, you chose to remain as Miss Johnson's caretaker of your own free will, but due to your lack of judgment this morning I believe this patient should be reassigned to a more experienced caretaker."
Maxine, who so far had remained quiet waiting patiently for Ann to defend herself, moved forward in her chair and spoke up. "Listen Mother..."
"Clarence," answered Mother Clarence dryly.
Maxine ignored the short remark and kept going. "Sister Ann has shown nothing but kindness and complete devotion ever since I was assigned to her care, and trust me I have been nothing but a living nightmare. By bringing me with her this morning she was just trying to protect me from my own stupidity." Maxine stopped, out of breath, and wiped the sweat off her forehead, and moved back against the back of her seat.
"Are you all right?" asked Ann concerned.
Maxine nodded before continuing. "If you want to be mad at someone, be mad at me. If you want to punish someone, punish me...send me home for all I care, but don't take it out on her."
Mother Clarence looked seriously at the young nun and the woman sitting next to her. A very unlikely pair, she thought briefly.
Maxine interrupted her thought. "Also, regarding the eviction, please let me help." Maxine jumped on Mother Clarence's hesitation. "Consider it a donation. I have the money; I can help keep this place open."
Mother Clarence tapped her pen on her chin and for a moment was lost in thought. "We will discuss this matter once I have a better idea of what is going to be asked of us. For now I want to address Sister Ann's earlier disobedience."
Ann dropped her eyes again. "Sister Ann, I believe you when you said you meant well by bringing your patient with you this morning, but it also made me realize how inexperienced you are. Miss Johnson is a very hard case and I think I was expecting too much from you on your first assignment." She turned to Maxine. "Miss Johnson, are you here to stay?"
"What do you mean?"
"I need to know if you intend to take your recovery seriously."
"Yes, I do."
"Very well then. You are reassigned to Sister Louise. She has been handling cases like yours for many years. Thank you both for coming." She stood up to signal the meeting was over. Ann stood up defeated, but Maxine remained seated, her eyes looking angrily at Mother Clarence.
"Maybe you are used to bossing your nuns around Mother Clarence, but I am one of your patient and you do not tell me what to do unless you are my caretaker. I am very happy with Sister Ann and do not wish to be reassigned to anyone else."
Ann looked at Maxine pleadingly and whispered. "Please Maxine...this is not your battle."
The two women's eyes met and for a brief second exchanged an unspoken dialogue. Maxine read confusion, hurt and defeat in Ann's eyes, but most of all realized from Ann's expression that it was indeed not her battle to fight. "Fine," she said, then got up and walked to the door, followed by Ann.
To be continued
copyright(c)malaurie barber 2001
Feeb the bard
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