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Sister Francine woke up and found she wasn’t alone. Across the room, on the other bed, there was a girl with headphones on.

The sister had been asleep when they brought the girl in. She wanted to speak, but her throat hurt and her mouth was dry. Soma, and chloral hydrate.

Sleep therapy, the doctor called it.

There were times when Sister Francine felt like a frozen sky. Starless and black. Without end.

Your head will tell you no. Let your heart answer yes.

Father Timothy’s words were embroidered in gold on her dreams.

The girl took off her headphones, and held up a stuffed animal, a small brown bear.

This is Bobo, she said, and gave him a kiss. Bobo’s been with me forever. You’ll have the room all to yourself now. I’m through with my tests.

She put on her shoes and left, and took Bobo with her.

The girl was open and friendly, and the sister wished she could have responded in kind. The soma and chloral hydrate was supposed to be a sort of shock therapy.

There were times when Sister Francine felt enveloped in cotton, and stared at the back of her hands.

Your head will tell you no. Let your heart answer yes.                               

Father Timothy’s words shined like a pearl in the sun.

She put her hand on the wall. It was seven steps to the doorway. From there she could see into the dayroom.

The TV was on, and it spat out the headlines like seeds. Aftermath. Tragedy. Caliber.

Pictures flew by like birds in a storm. Gurneys. Weeping. Parents and Christmas.

A birthday girl, giving a toy bear a kiss.

There were days Father Timothy’s words were an all-white thousand-piece puzzle.

There are times when a girl loves no one.

Not even Bobo.