To all of you who came on my behalf -- to Sister Baptiste, Sister Philomena, Sister Hermione, Sister Marietta, Sister Felicity, Sister Annabelle, Sister Celina, Sister Genevieve, Sister Pauline, Sister Rafaela, Sister Margot and Sister Lucia -- I am forever indebted to you. I am forever grateful. I salute your courage, and your endurance. Traveling by carriage all those 87 miles from the convent on those red dusty roads surely exhausted you. And then sitting on backless benches in that stifling courtroom all those many long hours. Enduring all the questions, the snide remarks, the stern looks from the jurors, all of it.
No matter. At the end of the day, the jury took exactly one hour and 34 minutes to return to the courtroom. I was in the cell only a few minutes when the jailer returned to "fetch me" for the verdict.
I sat at the defense table, hands folded, holding the well-worn family Bible that Teresa had brought me. I watched the 12 men shuffle back into the room, carefully avoiding my eyes.
The judge spoke. "Gentlemen of the jury, have you reached a verdict?"
The foreman, a portly man with a bright red nose and wearing a leather vest stood. "Yes, your honor, we have."
The judge nodded. Turned to glare at me. "Please stand and face the jury."
I stood, and DeLuria stood beside me. And behind me, I heard all of the nuns who had come to support my case. I felt them all rise with me!
Suddenly there wasn't nearly enough air in the courtroom to breathe. So I held my breath. My hands trembled so I held them to my chest as if in prayer.
"How do you find the defendant?" I heard the judge's question, but it sounded so far away to me, as if I had been wholly delivered up to another world.
"We find the defendant guilty, your honor."
Without knowing why, I smiled. I will never understand that beatific smile. Perhaps it was a release. Finally, I was hearing the words that I had dreaded to hear for so many many weeks.
A tender hush rose up behind me. I felt a hand at my back, one on my elbow, I know not whether it was DeLuria or Teresa or one of the many other nuns. My legs turned so soft that I felt they would no longer support me.
I collapsed into the chair. There were words being said, I suppose the judge was pronouncing the date that I would be sentenced, but now I felt again that I was not present in the room. Or I was immersed deep under water. Or he was speaking Russian or French. DeLuria tried to pull me by the arm, hoping I would stand again, but it was too late. I had turned into dead weight.
I sat there hands folded staring into the oak table. I studied the grain of the wood, and I felt that I could continue sitting there staring at that beautiful grain -- the whorls so intricate -- for as long as they would permit me.
But it wasn't to be permitted. It wasn't long before I was lifted at both elbows and my wrists were shackled again. DeLuria was telling me he would file an appeal and I was about to say,
"Mr. DeLuria I feel that is a mistake, and not necessary, you see you have done enough already."
But my lips were forming words I couldn't say. I was already being shepherded out of the room. And as I headed out, I glanced once at the bank of eyes and tears and black veils. Sister Pauline was making the sign of the cross and Teresa was holding Señora in her arms and rocking her.
I was all too soon back here, locked in, where I sat in silence until Teresa and Señora came and the three of us held hands through the bars and cried together and said nothing.
Finally, the jailer came and told them visiting hours were over. Teresa protested, but I begged her to go. And so they did, but not before Señora left a basket covered in a gingham cloth -- jars of canned vegetables and one of apricots. Ah, but nothing appealed to me, not even the cup of chamomile tea that Kitty later brought me (I took it, however, because as long as I was sipping the tea, Mr. Bean allowed her to sit with me.)
The sun dropped behind the courtyard and that moon I am still staring at rose in the clear dark sky. I must have fallen asleep. When I awoke, I saw that Mr. Bean had left me a bowl of soup which had grown cold, and a crust of bread. I dumped both into the foul pail.
I have a stone dead feeling in my stomach, as if someone had come in and stolen the core of me away and left a gaping cold trench. An open grave.
I have no idea when it happened.
I am convicted of premeditated murder. I have been found guilty of killing my cousin Antonie in cold blood.
And I would have written that there is no more to say.
Just imagine. What I. Did. Just imagine. Where I fled to.
Only the stars can tell you. Only the sky can guess.
So now sit down and I will try to tell you.
You will see it all come clear.
When the water goes still as a mirror,
And we peer inside.
Do you see now, why I appeared here?
Do you see now, why you must
Tell the world my story? Yes, tell the world
Just sing it, shout it out,
how we turned the past.
We will move her story, Renata's
and his false history,