The Graveyard

William paced slowly along the row of graves, reading the names inscribed in the cold headstones. The cool breeze of early spring that stirred the still dead grass slipped through his threadbare coat and made him shiver. At the end of the row, he sighed, looked up at the pale blue sky with a muttered prayer. He started along the next row in the same intense attitude.

One of the nuns of the church, seeing him from the back door, went to ask him his errand. “Dear sir, can I assist you in some way?”

William looked up and found the veil of her order covering her face. His own was rough, tanned, and scarred. He felt ashamed beneath her innocent gaze. “I have been away a long time.”

“Is there someone you are looking for? If you tell me a name, I can show you the spot. I walk here often in the evenings.”

“I was in prison.” He confessed as to a priest. “I’ve only just returned. I can’t find her anywhere. No one remembers her. Maybe she left. Maybe someone took her away from here. She was young when I was sentenced. Where do you bury prostitutes?”

“Sir, they are buried outside the church yard, unless they repent of their sins.”

“She must be here,” the man insisted, turning back to the graves. “I’ve feared all these years that she turned to…” He covered his face with his hands. “I left her nothing. If she is dead, her blood is on my head. I was her brother, her only relation in the world. I don’t know what happened to her. I prayed—every day I prayed—every day for 15 long years. Where is she? Is she here?”

“What is her name?” the nun demanded. “Tell me her name.”

William stared at her as if stricken. His lips parted, but the name remained unspoken. “Katherine.” The name forced its way out. William took a step back, almost afraid of what might happen.

“Katherine was a prostitute here,” the nun said, and the man’s eyes filled with tears. “She lived a desperate life. But God heard your prayers, William. She came here, to this place, and the sisters took her in.” She, too, began to cry. “My brother!” she uttered. “You’re alive, my dear brother!” She flung herself onto his chest.

Stunned, he wrapped his strong arms around her. “Katherine,” he muttered, his legs weak with revelation. “I…I’m sorry…”

“No—No, William. God is good. God is good.”

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