From the Collection of Short Stories titled, Love Is All Around (Copyright)
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Within the next half hour, she was greeted more or less with similar felicitations accompanied with respectful smiles. Only one creature looked at her with disdain: she surmised that the old man was probably a loyal supporter of the former president or an ardent follower of another Christian sect.
Sister Cristina remained in the present. There was no use pretending that the past could be resurrected to put an end to the current malaise in society in general.
“Will you be going back to the church?” asked a deep male voice from behind.
The disruption to her thoughts belonged to a young priest who frequently led her around, the daily trip to the bench included.
“Ah, Father Jess,” she gushed, grateful that his constant attention to her had not diminished. “You’re too kind.”
“I saw you from up there,” he pointed to the higher ground where the church entrance was located. “Perhaps, you waited long for me to fetch you.”
The young disciple of God was born to serve, Sister Cristina firmly believed. He hid no false pretenses with the way he cared for her.
“Can I stay a little longer?” she asked, her plea understandable.
“Of course, Sister.” Father Jess would always accede to her wishes. “I’ll come back after half an hour. Will that be all right?”
“That would be great, Father.” she nodded, smiling like a small girl.
The priest tapped her shoulder gently before turning back. The small gesture was enough to brighten her day.
Again, she tried to remember the past. Unfortunately, distractions began to build up. Her vivid reflections were diluted by the growing noise of traffic fifty feet from where she sat. Another solemn day was no more, replaced by the ordinary.
Her immaculate attire was a magnet to dust and dirt, slowly accumulating in the air as minutes passed by. She should have accepted the priest’s offer earlier so she could safely escape the noxious particles from exhausts of motor transports. The smoggy air began to bother her breathing.
The empty space near her was on the verge of being occupied by a smartly-dressed man in his early forties. The new arrival would thwart her wish to remain the sole occupant of her favorite bench.
“Mind if I seat here, Sister?” the man asked, already adjusting his pants to prepare for a comfortable seating.
“No, I don’t mind at all,” she replied, inching a bit toward the edge on her side.
“It’s nice to sit here,” he mused, taking a long deep breath, unafraid of the air pollution he just inhaled.
“Are you expecting someone?” Sister Cristina queried, noticing him glancing at his watch several times.
“She is late,” he confessed. “We’re supposed to meet inside the church.”
Ah, waiting, sighed Sister Cristina. It was a chore many people disliked.
“Why did you come out? She might be there now?”
“It’s her turn to wait then,” he commented, his tone irritated.
Sister Cristina smiled. The man obviously hated tardiness.
“You know, waiting means you care,” she said. “Anticipation is a part of loving.”
He turned to her, studying her face for any hint of jest. Her enigmatic words were genuine: it touched a nerve inside him.
“I’m sure you are saying that to appease me. She’s been doing this to me ever since.”
“And yet, you anticipate her arrival every time?”
Sister Cristina watched him closely. He needed the guidance like everyone else.
“So, I always wait.”
“But, why always me?” he asked, confused why equality was not an issue. “She has never waited for me.”
“You’re missing my point,” Sister Cristina emphasized. “You’re talking about time. What I am talking about is Love.”
He frowned, showing his dissatisfaction. But slowly his face brightened up when he finally understood the nun’s perspective.
“I think you’re right, Sister. Thank you for enlightening me.”
He immediately stood up and waved his goodbye.
Sister Cristina looked up to the cloudless sky, reciting her firm devotion.
“I will wait as long as it takes when the time comes to join my God in heaven.”
T H E E N D