Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan

Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan

Author:J. Courtney Sullivan
Language: eng
Format: epub, azw3, mobi
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Published: 2017-05-08T16:00:00+00:00


CATHY AND ARTHUR were engaged in early June. He gave her a ring with a tiny diamond in it, and she wore it everywhere, tilting her hand this way and that, admiring how the stone sparkled in the sun. Theresa worried that Cathy wouldn’t want to go to the abbey now. But on the first of July, off they went.

As soon as they reached the gates, Cathy took her ring off and placed it in the glove box.

“For safekeeping,” she said.

Sister Ava greeted them in Latin and then immediately squealed, “Congratulations! Have you chosen your wedding dress yet?”

Two weeks passed in blissful occupation, the two of them caught up in the nuns’ daily rituals. Then, as planned, Roger and Arthur came for a visit. For the first time since leaving New York, the girls curled their hair and powdered their faces. Cathy put her ring back on.

The nuns gave them the weekend off. The four of them spent the days swimming in the nearby lake, browsing in antique shops they could never afford. Theresa enjoyed herself, but she didn’t feel well. Her head ached, her stomach was a jumble.

On Sunday night, the couples split off. She and Roger had dinner and drove until they found a quiet road beside a stream. The evening light was fading to darkness as they walked, hand in hand. He kissed her, ran his palm along her back, and lower, to her bottom, leaving it there, a question mark. She had the strongest urge to ask him to make love to her, though she didn’t say so. She couldn’t explain why to herself, but she kept thinking it would be her last chance.

She cried as they said good-bye at the gates. He wiped a tear from her cheek and kissed her, saying, “Silly girl, we’ll see each other soon.”

She looked past him, to the image of the Miraculous Medal, forged in iron. It was then that she understood. She had assumed the Virgin Mother was guiding her to Patrick. But now she saw that the medal had been drawing her here.

Theresa was quieter than usual over the next few days. She worried that Cathy might find her behavior strange, but her friend was distant too. She didn’t seem to notice. One night, Theresa couldn’t sleep. At three in the morning, she got out of bed and went to the bathroom window, looking over at the building where the nuns lay sleeping. A single light was on on the third floor. She saw a flash of black pass through it. Here, in this place, through these women, Theresa had felt the pure presence of God in a way she hadn’t since she was a child. She wondered if her devotion was real, something she could sustain for the rest of her life. Or if one day the spell would be broken and she would see that she had only been seeking an escape.

Deliberating from here, from the outside, seemed pointless now. She knew that there was only one way to know.


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