Part 7: Even a Child
Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right. Proverbs 20:11
Maggie took Lexie by the hand and led her into one of the lesser-used common rooms at the convent. Lexie was taking everything in.
“Sister Maggie. Does everybody here wear black dresses? Is this where you live? It’s so neat! It’s in the woods with all the animals.” Lexie tilted her head in a strange manner. “Oh! I hear kids outside! Can I go play with them?”
“Heavens, child. Slow down! The children should be outside for recess about now, but how you guessed that is beyond me. I certainly don’t hear them. Maybe you can play with them later, but right now we have to figure out what we’re going to do. People will come looking for you soon.”
“Why do they want to take me away? Is it because I can see better and hear better and smell better and…”
“Wait! What do you mean?”
“I can see things far away sometimes, but it makes me feel funny when I try too hard. And I hear people say things when they’re not by me—like the kids playing. And lots of things make me itchy. And if I sniff I can smell stuff like…” Her face suddenly lit up. “Chocolate chip cookies!” Lexie ran out of the room and down the hall.
“Lexie! Where do you think you’re going?” When she caught up with her, she was in the kitchen with Sister Marie.
“So, Sister Maggie. Is this young woman a friend of yours?”
“Yes, she is. I’m sorry if she’s bothering you.”
“Oh, no bother at all. She has good timing. I just made a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Maybe you’d like a few?” She gave Lexie a few cookies and took Maggie aside. “Thank goodness you made it back ok. We were worried sick when Mother Agnes told us you went out. Did you hear? They found another nun. It was one of the sisters from the Sisters of Mercy. She was killed late last night. Who would do such a thing, Sister?”
“I don’t know. But I’ll be more careful from now on. We’ll all have to be.”
“Come on Lexie. We have to go. Thank Sister Marie for the cookies.”
“Thank you. They’re my favorite. Can I take these with me?”
“You may take them with you.”
“Thanks!” Lexie shoved another one in her mouth.
Maggie and Lexie walked back to the common room. The sister wasn’t sure what to think. Another dead nun. A girl with super senses. Super senses? That was crazy! About as crazy as…dream voices and bears that gave warnings and advice. She sighed. This was just getting worse and worse. Could it be real? “Lexie. I need you to do something for me. Look out the window and tell me what you see.”
“A bunch of trees.”
“Well, yes. But you see farther than that, can’t you? Look harder.”
Lexie’s face was lined with concentration. Then suddenly her eyes went blank.
“Lexie? Lexie! Lexie, what’s wrong? Can you hear me? Say something!” Maybe she shouldn’t have taken her out of the hospital. Maybe she had epilepsy or… “Come on—listen to my voice. Do you hear that? Please snap out of it!”
Lexie blinked rapidly, taking a deep breath. She saw the look on Sister Maggie’s face. “I’m sorry I scared you.”
“What was that, Lexie? Does that happen often?”
“I’m not sure. I think…maybe before. I don’t remember before. Sometimes I know things I should know, but I don’t remember me before the hospital. I think I got stuck because I looked too hard. But it was so pretty. I could see lots of roses in different colors in this lady’s garden. The petals were so soft. And then I kinda froze all over. I couldn’t see or feel anything. But I heard your voice and I knew it was ok. Then I wasn’t stuck and I was here and I could move again.”
“You could see a rose garden? But that’s…” There was a rose garden in that direction. It was in Mrs. Delgado’s back yard. But Mrs. Delgado lived on the other side of the woods! She saw that? She actually saw that! And she had smelled Sister Marie’s cookies in another wing of the convent. What if all her senses were extraordinary? No wonder someone wanted to take her. Maggie could think of quite a few covert groups and foreign agencies that would love to get their hands on someone like her. She looked down at Lexie who still seemed shaken and confused. A strange feeling of protectiveness swept over Sister Maggie. If they wanted Lexie, they would have to go through her first.
Just then Sister Catherine came into the room. “I see you’ve returned. Everyone was so worried about you that that was all anyone did or talked about this morning. Apparently you had the entire convent in an uproar over nothing.”
“I’m sorry that the others were worried for me. I’ll be happy to thank them for their prayers.”
“So, who is this with you?”
“Sister Catherine, this is Lexie. Lexie, meet Sister Catherine.” Lexie handed her little bag of cookies to Sister Maggie and tentatively shook the other lady’s hand. As soon as the other woman let go, Lexie stepped closer to Maggie.
Catherine scrutinized Lexie carefully. “Is there something wrong with her?”
“She may look like an adult, but she’s very child-like.”
“Were you planning to place her here? She may have a child’s mind, but she has an adult’s body and strength. She won’t fit in with the other children.”
“I’m sure there will be some difficulties, but I think I’ll let Mother Agnes decide what to do.”
Sister Catherine’s mouth thinned to a tight line.
“Oh, I just heard about the nun that was killed last night from the Sisters of Mercy. I’m really sorry. I know you were with the sisters there for a time. You must have known her. I just wanted to offer my condolences.”
Catherine’s face turned a pale shade of grey. “That’s very kind of you, but I didn’t know the particular woman in question. Thank you for the thought, nevertheless.” She turned quickly and left the room.
“I don’t like her, Sister Maggie.”
“Now, dear. Why would you say that? You’ve only just met her.”
“She smells funny.”
“I didn’t notice anything.”
“She smells like old pennies. And she was lying.”
“What do you mean?”
“When you asked her about the other lady. Her heart made funny sounds. The jungle man told me that means someone is lying.”
“I’m very confused now. What jungle man?” Had Lexie mentioned a jungle man before?
“He gave me the kitty—the ghost kitty. He was in my dreams and he showed me lots of stuff. He said he was going to send a bear-lady to help me with the special things I can do. And then you came. Sister Catherine was lying. She knew that other lady.”
Sister Maggie sighed, exasperated. “Of course she was, Lexie. The jungle man said so.”
“See? It’s not that hard to understand.”
Maggie burst out laughing—she just couldn’t help it. The faith of a child. “Apparently this…this whole situation we’ve found ourselves in is going to take a great deal of your kind of faith. It’s a good thing I have some practice at that, being in the faith business and all.”
“I’ll explain later.”