Francis giggled hearing his phrase, leaning her temple against her palm, looking more than tired herself. How was this possible? Around Alliana she didn't show a single sign of it...
"Don't worry Michael. Actually it's.. Allie. She's the one who tires herself with 'whimsical conversations', all the time and we're the ones who are too weak to quit her for her sake, right? But you saw yourself how much she loves life and people... Just a moment..."
Quickly she checked on her again, closing the door extra carefully as she returned.
"Fell asleep.. Now we can talk free." The nun lowered her head taking a deep breath. Hard. It was so hard for this kind soul whose head already started to turn white, yet there was a forever young strength and hope in her gaze.
Slowly sitting back in the swivel chair behind the counter she offered another for Michael.
Then the story began...
"Have you ever heard about the painter, great teacher of art named Henry Stewart?... Alliana's uncle. Died last year. Imagine that the helpless girl watched the whole scene after she called for help.. But that came too late. It was embolism in the lung, nothing to do.. He was her only relative and.. they were really close, I think. Henry was... he preferred men's company if you know what I mean, never married, therefore when he became the person in charge for Allie after that tragic night, he did his best to bring her back to life, after.. months of coma, other long months of rehabilitation... She could even complete five semesters at College... But then her uncle died and since then her condition is only declining."
Francis sighed and poured some tea first to Michael then also for herself.
"Since she's in here she had a stroke that paralyzed her right side.. She has seizures, like never before... Doctor Austin, to be honest I'm really worried we're gonna loose her if things go on like this.. Therefore......."
Lifting her clear gaze at him she spoke with the determination of warriors.
"I plan to take Allie out of here as her caretaker. But.. she doesn't know about this yet as I have no place to go with her. Only if I'm alone.. I'm a nun and my.. superior gave me an ultimatum. If I choose to dedicate my life to Alliana - she's gonna do everything to get me out of the order.. However, I studied our regula, very well, each and every letter from the very beginning to the very last paragraph, and there isn't a single reference there saying a nun can not focus her attention only on one soul in need, once she prooved her unconditional love and willingness for the whole community... Doctor Austin, I've been to the poorest spots of Earth. I've watched hundreds if not thousands of people starving and dying like mosquitos and"
Fran exhaled long and her voice trembled.
"God sees my soul, wherever I was I tried to help, I've been a sister since I was twenty five...... But years before that...... I gave birth to a child... A boy... I was almost a child myself, so... a couple adopted him through the social service, we were poor and with not much future..."
Again she turned her look at the sleeping figure behind the window...
"But this, now.. Allie... I know she's my next mission.. and possibly my personal salvation... I've never been able to forget that once I was a mother.. and she's never had one... She's already so attached to me, just like me to her, so.. I've made up my mind, whether my order supports me or not. I'm gonna take her as soon as I find a place for us... and if she would like to stay with me, of course, that's the main thing..."
Her eyes settled on the motionless girl, smiling softly like she was looking right into her eyes...
"Doctor Austin, maybe my question is too bold but.. do you know somebody who could give shelter to us? Anybody... Henry Stewart was seriously indebted when he passed away so their house is gone, and which remained is there to support Alliana's therapies. She has nowhere to go, that's why she's here and as soon as I leave the order I'll be the same. So.. at least in the beginning we can only count on other people's goodwill."
Francis rubbed her forehead then caressed back her short hair.
"She doesn't know but I'm not working overtime to gain more glory or money to our community... I'm here because of her.. To be by her side... Sometimes I even sleep in the hospital, just like last night when she collapsed... I just.. couldn't leave. I was praying in the chapel.. not to loose her..."
They say affection is a forbidden thing for monks and nuns. But after all, Francis Keller wasn't just a nun anymore.
Invisibly she became a parent as well. A hoping parent...