I have wanted to write a 100% Shulienne story for a long time, but I only wrote trash. Today I started this, which I like but I have no idea if there will be many chapters or just this one.
Also, the only thing I know about rules in religious congregations is what I learned in the program and when I was 9 years old and wanted to be a nun. So if you see any mistake, you can tell me and I will learn more (and maybe I will become a nun, it would not be so bad).
Thank you very much for reading, and as always, sorry for my bad English.
July 1, 1948
Sister Julienne woke with a start. She had a bad dream, one in which a bomb fell nearby and destroyed everything around it.
Too little light came in through the window, she thought it was too early yet, but it was almost 6. She heard again the sound that her sleeping mind mistaken for a bomb: a thunder, sounding in the distance, foreshadowing a monumental storm.
She got out of bed and opened the window, a breath of fresh air came in, relieving the heat that accumulated in the night.
The rapidly approaching storm made it seem like midnight, blanketing everything with a menacing darkness, dragging the summer morning away.
She breathed in the air, mentally preparing herself for the hectic day ahead. She preferred to spend a rainy day in bed, sleeping or relaxing with a reading, but that life she lived was far away now. Being a nurse and a midwife required being ready at any time and in any weather, because sick people and babies never keep in mind the inclement weather or the clock.
She saw that at the corner, a bicycle turned with great speed, and she immediately distinguished one of her sisters, Sister Mary, rushing into Nonnatus before being soaked in the rain. Sister Julienne closed the window to get dressed and go out to meet her sister and ask her about Mr. Flinch, a poor dying man who they took turns taking care of in his dirty flat. Hopefully and with the grace of God, she thought, the man had died that morning. It was not a good thought for a nun, but she was also human, and observing the terrible suffering, without any hope of recovery, only made her pray that the man could rest at the end of a lifetime of misery, pain, and abandonment.
She was closing the curtain, when she saw that, again in the corner, a small figure was walking and heading towards the stairs of Nonnatus with steps full of determination, and a suitcase in its hand.
She suddenly remembered it.
"Today comes a new postulant!" she exclaimed, and looked at the alarm clock on her nightstand again.
Too early to arrive, which is too enthusiastic, something Sister Evangelina said when she informed that a girl appeared two weeks ago, asking to join the Order.
"She's not going to do us any good," her sister added, "Too pretty, too young, and too enthusiastic. The perfect recipe to get out of here in three months."
Sister Julienne closed the curtain and left the cell, putting on her veil, listening in the distance to the knocking on the door.
Yes, she thought, Too much enthusiasm and anxiety to enter here. I think I will have to agree with sister Evangelina.
She walked quickly down the dimly lit hallway.
Although perhaps she's only anxious to enter because she doesn't want to be soaked to the bone.
When she opened the door, the first drops fell.
The first thing she noticed was the agitated voice. Then she saw the face, full of fear and anxiety, and then she noticed a slight cigarette scent.
Since when do we accept 12 years old girls? she thought, flatly refusing to accept this new postulant.
"Good morning," Julienne greeted politely. She had to give the chance, she was here for that even though she felt tired of always repeating the same words and teachings to people who then left the convent forever.
The girl smiled nervously.
"I'm sorry if I arrived too early…"
"No, not at all," she lied, "in a minute we pray the Lauds. Enter."
"Wonderful, I love the Lauds," said the young woman, entering and looking at everything around her. Her gray eyes sparkled behind round glasses.
Sister Julienne closed the heavy door and turned to the newcomer.
She tried to remember what her name was. Sister Evangelina said it, even wrote it down on a piece of paper and left it on her desk, but she lost it among many other names of other young women who also wanted to enter Nonnatus.
She didn't know if it was because of the war, still so raw and stuck in everyone's veins, or because of the lack of a future, or the lack of men, or because of divine inspiration, but the truth was that every week two or three girls knocked on Nonnatus's door saying with all their conviction that they wanted to wear a habit.
And then, as Sister Evangelina predicted, they fled after three months.
Now she had to agree with her sister, because the girl in front of her, who seemed incredibly young and inexperienced in everything, might not even last a month there. Her fine and distinguished face, her pale and delicate hands, her princess posture and her barely audible little voice, all those things would be smashed to pieces in the streets of Poplar. And nobody so pretty and young would want to lose all that charm in England's poorest neighborhood.
"Can you tell me your name?" she asked, pretending she had suddenly forgotten what her name was. The girl passed her suitcase to the left hand, looked Julienne straight in the eye and smiled, extending her free hand.
"Shelagh Mannion, I'm a nurse, I'm a recent graduate, I did my internship in the London. I have all my papers here, in case you need to see them."
Sister Julienne immediately detected an accent that put her on the cold shores of Scotland. That made her smile, because if the girl was Scottish, then Sister Evangelina would have a rival in her stubbornness.
"Welcome, Shelagh," she took the girl's hand, barely shook it, "Welcome to Nonnatus House. Although, the first lesson you should learn is not to look into the eyes so directly, and not to shake hands."
She noted how the girl instantly blushed and withdrew her frightened hand, as if she had been burned. Julienne could not help but laugh and placed a hand on one of the girl's elbows.
"Calm down, don't feel bad, you will learn little by little. Now come to my office…" the sound of the clock, punctuated with a thunder, interrupted her, "Well, I will go to the chapel first, it is time for Lauds. Will you join us?"
"Yes," the girl, Sheila, or Shelagh, or whatever her name was, smiled widely. A bright smile, full of hope. Sister Julienne could not help but look at that smile, she had not seen a show of confidence and security like that for a long time, at least she had not seen it in the devastated Poplar where everyone smiled with sad and helpless looks.
Then she noticed her eyes, brimming with youth and by God, she's so pretty. She will soon find desperate suitors around here. But something in those eyes, that now she saw that they were not gray, but blue, told her that this girl was here to stay.
"Come, come with me, the chapel it is around here" the nun said, heard her own voice sounding softer, as if she wanted to treat this new person in the most courteous way possible, thus remedying her first prejudices about her, "After praying we will go to my office, have you had breakfast?"
"No, not yet," she replied shyly, walking behind her.
She looked at her over her shoulder and inadvertently smiled at the girl.
"Then you'll have breakfast with me while we talk about you."
The young woman nodded, and smiled again.
When Sister Julienne entered the chapel, she looked towards the Cross and joined her sisters, ready to start the day under the blessing of God. The lightnings flashed and made strange games of light with the windows of the chapel, and the thunders mixed with the well-known and beloved voices, until one voice, coming from the background, rose above the others.
She turned a little, and saw the girl who a few minutes ago put her two feet on Nonnatus. She might seem fragile, but her voice was firm, determined to praise God. She knew every word of the hymns and psalms, she knew exactly what this was and what it meant.
Perhaps she's brilliant, Julienne thought, abandoning her prayer, focusing on the girl.
Out of the corner of her eye, Julienne looked at Sister Evangelina, who looked at her with a knowing smile.
Then Julienne looked towards the Cross, and thanked for this new soul that joined Nonnatus. Forever? she asked herself. And then she paid attention to Shelagh's clean and happy voice. Yes, I think she'll be here forever.