And die she did, but with each death followed a resurrection until the angels rolled the moon in front of the sun. The woman in white dropped to her martyred twin’s side, pressed her lips against her sister’s bloodied mouth, and inhaled her last breath. She wailed, her sorrow multiplying and transecting the wide river valley.
The warrior nuns—struck dumb by an eerie midday night and the resounding grief—littered the street with their dropped weapons. They collapsed like disgraced telescopes with shoddy lenses, shoved and pushed and fought with each other to climb aboard a fleet of awaiting school busses. Once inside, they clutched rosary beads and mumbled marian prayers to justify what they’d just done. The chorus lapsed into another recitation of holy excuses, their ugly victory yielding another vulgarity to deny.
Vengeful spirits flew in on the wings of innumerable birds of prey. Claws and beaks lifted the crimson-stained weapons and released them to bomb the departing vehicles. Even when the busses were well out of town, the punishing din of metal and stone hitting the busses, the war cries of the birds, and the beseeching screams of the nuns could be heard. At last the birds returned, circling the moon until it released the sun.
Inside the cottage, the twin removed Perpetua’s bloodied clothing, washed her body gently, and wrapped her with a pair of gossamer curtain sheers. After pulling her sister’s torn riding gear on, the Rider fastened an ironing board to the back of the Harley, and secured the lifeless Perpetua to it by wrapping several more translucent curtains around her and the ironing board until only Perpetua’s blood-drained face could be seen.
And then there was nothing left to do but douse the inside of the cottage with lighter fluid, toss in a match, and drive off as it exploded in flames.
PERPETUA is a project by Susan Koefod. New sections are released every other Friday. If you’d like to receive email alerts—and that’s all you’ll get, a short email—saying the new one’s up, sign up here: