Friday, November 03, 2006

Youthful Desires

My reflection was gone from the window. The darkness outside had disappeared. A light steadily glowed, almost outshining the light in Norgrove's room. I stepped over to the sill and looked out at an enormous, ornate building with towering arched windows. They were scrolled with elaborate iron work, as if they were stained glass, missing the color. Through the leafy design, I saw what looked like large shadows, flying away from the windows and out of view, clearing a pristine hardwood floor that had been polished to a sheen. I couldn't tell if this was an empty cathedral, or an ornate gymnasium. The shadows glided past the glass, then disappeared again. I leaned closer to the window for a better look.

I could vaguely make out the building's exterior. It loomed up like a medieval cathedral, dark with gothic forboding. “Wild,” I breathed. “What is it?”

“A monastery, I think," said Norgrove. "I honestly don't know.”

I laughed. “There's a
monastery in the middle of the university campus?”

“Apparently. Connected to St. Mike's, I'm told. No doubt there's some sort of academic angle to it. Hold on, here comes trouble.”

The shadows returned, swirling slowly in formation, then stood still and waited.
Nuns — they looked like nuns. Their black robes were crisp and neat, swaying with gentle gravitas. I craned toward the window, squinting hard, trying to pick up some telling detail, like the expressions on their faces, which, from my addled perspective, were as blank as thumbs.

The women began to move. They slowly lifted their arms out to their sides, then held them aloft at shoulder height, forming a platoon of crosses draped in shadow. I could feel my heart and breath accelerating, driving hard. Suddenly, the platoon exploded into action. The women spun like dervishes, scurrying and whirling across the floor, grasping hands, twisting, pulling, catapulting, thumping their heels — their entire bodies — against the floor in a thunderous drumbeat.

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