Nun of That

Miranda declares at dinner that night that she wants to be a nun. She says it so quickly that it runs into her discussing her tattoo removal, and it isn't until she's decided out loud which laser centre she'll be visiting that anyone registers what she's said and thinks to speak up.

"But we're not religious," Mum says, but Miranda waves it off.

"I've decided that I'm Catholic, weren't you listening? Now, I'll need about four treatments, but we'll see what they say when I go in, and they need to be four-to-six weeks apart according to Wikipedia, so I can do my Aspirancy around June." She gets up from the dinner table, grabs a pen and a pad of paper. "It's perfect timing, too, because I graduate in May and they prefer it if you have a bachelor's degree. I've already got a rosary and I guess I'll need to get a habit at some point, though I'll bet they give you that stuff at nun training."

"What about Quaid?" Mum asks, but Miranda waves her off again.

"We'll have to break up, but that's all right, he's got a small dick anyway. I'll need to get some nicotine patches, too, and probably switch out my thongs - d'y'reckon nuns are allowed to wear thongs? What about multicoloured socks? Maybe I hsould have a yard sale to get rid of all my Wiccan shit, too. Oh, shoot, I forgot to factor in that I have to convert. Well, Dad left his Bible, so do you mind if we not stick it in the coffin with him? I'd like to use it to study."

She picks up the Bible from the end-table by the sofa, tosses it between her hands a few times as if it's a hot piece of wood or a newborn baby, some object she's never touched before. She flips through it, and no one can tell if she's genuinely skimming or if she's just keeping up appearances. But they can't ask, because she talks.

"I've got a meeting with the priest at St Anthony's tomorrow - Father Berk or Beckett or something - and he's going to put me in a class and I should be converted within a few months, so I guess while that's happening I can get new underwear and dump Quaid and get this tattoo removed, but I'm not really sure how long that's going to take because it takes longer to remove certain colours because of the pigments and since I have green, I reckon it takes another session or something. Now, I've set an appointment for Wednesday, that way they can get it off as soon as possible -"

"Can't you be a nun and leave the tattoo as a symbol of your past life?" asks Mum, but she waves it off.

"Maybe, but who ever heard of a nun with a stupid tattoo?"

"You were sure excited when you got it," says Mum.

She's barely pauses to take a breath. "I was young and stupid. Really, it should be -"

"But I like that tattoo," says Mum.

"It's not your call. Now, as I was -"

"It's just a little sailboat."

Miranda drops silent. She doesn't look at her brother, who hasn't spoken the entire night except to say this; just stares straight on ahead, doesn't respond. She stiffens.

"You practically grew up on that sailboat," says her brother, quietly, carefully. "It was always you and Dad, you and Dad, you and Dad, and you never included me." He stands up, walks toward her. Their mother watches quietly as her son speaks. "You'd think, after so many years of making it so permanent, it would mean enough to you to not erase them when some of us could only wish we were there. You fought to get that fucking tattoo, Miranda. You yelled and screamed and carried on for hours until Dad took you himself. So you shut up about getting it removed or changing out your shit and whatever just because you don't have enough balls to deal with his death face-on like the rest of us. Don't you go hiding into some god you've outright denied your whole life just because you found some ancient artifact of Dad's that he never even believed in. Don't you leave us here alone by ourselves and don't you get that fucking sailboat removed just because you're too much of a coward to keep it."

He walks out, heads to his room, slams the door. Their mother busies herself with cleaning up the kitches, drowning out her sniffling with the faucet. Miranda doesn't move for some time, just sits there and listens to the chorus of streaming water and occasional clanging as it fills her space and time.

She sighs, at last, and closes the book and puts it back in the side table.