The Translation of the Bones

The Translation of the Bones by Francesca Kay Read Free Book Online

Book: The Translation of the Bones by Francesca Kay Read Free Book Online
Authors: Francesca Kay
Tags: Fiction, Literary, General, Religious
detach themselves from the rest and slid into a pew. The others stayed where they were, mostly hidden from him. He got on with saying mass.
    In the course of it he became irritably aware that the visitors were not only staying segregated in the chapel but also making quite a lot of noise. A prayerful noise certainly, some sort of litany perhaps, but other noises too: furniture scraping on the tiled floor, a great deal of excited chatter, the ring tones of mobile phones. More people kept arriving. Just before he began to say the Eucharistic Prayer he saw Miss Daly, a regular, bustle from her seat into the chapel. Voices were raised. Miss Daly returned to her pew, looking flustered and indignant. Father Diamond plowed on. He had no choice. It was a relief to see that a lot of the visitors did come up for Holy Communion. Some of them had covered their heads with lace.
    When the mass was ended, Father Diamond followed Major Wetherby into the sacristy and started to disrobe. What the devil was all that about? Major Wetherby was asking, when there was a sharp knock at the door and Miss Daly came bristling in. Do come out at once and put a stop to all this nonsense, she demanded. Those stupid women are paying no heed to me at all. Father Diamond, struggling out of his alb, heard the note of outrage in her voice. He handed the garment to the major and followed Miss Daly to the chapel. There he found several women lying prostrate on the floor, others kneeling, and at least one apparently in tears. The altar was in disarray and the Lenten veil had been pulled off the crucifix. Every candle on the pricket stand was lit. O most holy blood of Jesus, avoice was chanting, over and over again. What is all this? Father Diamond asked. Who took off the veil? A woman detached herself from the group. You are blessed, she said. This place is going to be well famous.
    Mary-Margaret, on Sunday morning, looked regretfully at the breakfast she would not allow herself to eat. Scrambled egg and button mushrooms. Triangles of toast. An hour ago she had tried to whiten her complexion with a little Ajax from a tin she had found on a windowsill in the bathroom but the grains were too coarse to stick. If anything, they made her redder. When an assistant came to take away her uneaten food, Mary-Margaret would not let her. It was important for the nurse in charge to see she could not take a bite.
    But Sister, when she came, was angry with the assistant and not at all sympathetic to her patient. She looked at Mary-Margaret’s wrist, listened to her account of the terrible pains that pierced her head, dispensed two acetaminophen and told her to get dressed. You’re absolutely fine, dear, she said firmly. Take two acetaminophen, at no more than four-hourly intervals, if you need them, but do not exceed eight tablets a day. See your GP if you experience further problems. Don’t forget to get those stitches taken out.
    Mary-Margaret, forlorn, put on her pullover and her denim skirt. It was only then she noticed the bloodstains on the skirt. It looked bad, she knew, as if she’d had a shameful accident, but she had nothing else to wear. She could hardly make her way back home in a hospital nightie. It was luckythe ambulance men had had the wit to keep her united with her shopping bag and fleece. She got dressed slowly. Her wrist hurt and she couldn’t do up her bra single-handed. Life wasn’t fair, she thought.
    It was still early and she had to wait a long time for a bus. While she waited, she tried to bring to mind what food there had been at home when she left on Thursday. She wondered what her mother had done about her meals. Now she wished she had eaten up that breakfast—she was feeling wobbly and, besides, her ploy had made no difference.
    There was no direct bus route between her home and St. Elizabeth’s. As Mary-Margaret would have to change buses in any case, she thought she might as well go via the Co-op. In the well-lit and warm shop she began to

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