Times Change For Sister Joan – Episode 40

CLARE went to the window and looked out.

“It’s Father George on his Vestment!” she declared. “Shall I be letting him in, Sister?”

“Of course.” Joan laughed.

Jan got up from her chair, filled the kettle at the sink then placed it on the hotplate of the Rayburn. Joan popped another couple of peas into her mouth.

Father George came into the kitchen behind Clare, his helmet under his arm. He placed it carefully on the dresser. Clothed in his leathers, he looked more like a member of the youth club than their parish priest. He carried a box in his other hand.

“Morning, Sisters, and God bless.” He grinned. “I have a delivery for you.”

“What is it?” Joan asked.

“You’ll soon see. I came straight over with it. It was addressed to me, so I opened it, of course.” He pushed the box over to Joan.

Joan opened the lid and pulled aside the copious amount of bubble-wrap until the contents were revealed.

“It’s a laptop!”

“It’s Ben’s laptop,” Father George said. “Special delivery, sent to me for security reasons. There’s a letter here, too.” He picked up an envelope addressed to Joan.

“It’s from Mother Superior in France.” Joan smiled as she read the letter inside. “The police managed to obtain Ben’s laptop from the university and passed it on to the Mother House, along with all the software discs. Now he can continue with his studies.”

“Oh, he’ll be so delighted.” Clare clapped her hands. “He’s been so quiet lately. No appetite for his food.”

Joan was pleased, too, but her heart ached for what only she and Jan knew.

Father George drew back a chair from the table and sat down. He removed his black leather gauntlets and rubbed his hands together.

“Well, now,” he said, “I think I deserve a nice cup of coffee for that.”

“You certainly do, Father,” Clare agreed. “And a biscuit, too.”

Ben was delighted and grateful to receive his laptop and began to immerse himself in his studies. He was more calm, more tired, and the days passed quickly and peacefully. He didn’t ask to speak with Joan again.

It was a bright sunny morning and Joan had settled down to study shopping lists provided by both Clare and Jan, crossing off Jan’s ambitious and expensive items. It was mundane paperwork that had to be done.

With the sun shining invitingly through the window and across her desk, she found it hard to concentrate on the task in hand. Weeding the lettuces in the sunshine with Amy and Louise would be so much nicer. She was almost glad to hear the polite knock on her study door.

“Come in.” She put down her pen.

It was Sister Clare.

“Mother, Mr Murray is here and would like a word in private, if you please. He’s just brought two dozen eggs surplus to his requirements, so he says.”

“Good morning, Mr Murray.” Joan put out a hand to meet the large, capable and strong handshake of their neighbour.

“Oh, my goodness,” he said. “Call me Bill, please.”

“Thank you so much for the eggs, Bill, they’ll be a great help for Clare and Sister Jan in the kitchen. Please take a seat. What can I do for you?”

“There’s something that’s been on my mind for quite a while now – can’t get it out of my thoughts.” He scratched his head. “I don’t want to interfere, not knowing the whys and wherefores of being a nun, but the other day down on the shore . . . I was puzzled, you see.”

“Oh, yes?” Joan asked nervously.

“Yes, Reverend. When that young nun came out of that smelly old shelter she raised her head and took a good sniff at the fresh air.”

“Yes, Bill, I’m sure she did.” Joan was becoming very uneasy with the way that the conversation was going.

“Well.” Bill leaned closer so that he could speak more quietly. “I don’t know of any nun what wears jeans and trainers and has got an Adam’s apple!”


Alison Cook