Author Topic: Fair Day at St. Ursula's (2017 Trick or Treat Challenge)  (Read 722 times)

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Fair Day at St. Ursula's

   Jacob Weinstein stood up, water beading off his face as he took a deep breath through his nose.  For the last several seconds, he was struggling to find purchase, holding his breath as his lungs fought for air.  Finally, his teeth bit into the apple he had been chasing.  Triumphantly, he took a bit of the apple and rolled it over his hand, much to his son’s amusement.  All around him, children and families were playing an assortment of fall games at the annual church Fall Festival.  The nuns were administering the carnival games and were auctioning off old pieces of artwork to raise money to fix the church’s roof. 

   Jacob had spent the first ten years of his life behind the walls of St. Ursula’s in the Orphanage run by the nuns.  Sister Mary was the Mother Superior who ran the orphanage until her death.  She cared deeply for all the children in her stead, and was sorely missed.  When she passed 8 years ago, Jacob had traveled back to St. Ursula’s for her funeral and decided to move to the neighboring town.  After he relocated and started attending mass, he met his wife Angela at one of the fundraisers.  Two years ago, he was blessed with his first son, Bert. 

   Standing in the large field behind the church, he was content and pleased with his life.  The Sisters of St. Ursula’s had treated him kindly and lovingly while he was in their care, and they found a loving home for him as well.  They had a successful adoption rate, remembering that many of the children that he remembered had been adopted as well.  Nostalgia was running high as he saw the paintings that were on auction.  The nuns had often pained the children who had been adopted just before they left.  Looking at the paintings closely, he realized just how talented the sisters had been, the children looked so realistic!

   Bert laughed as he ran over towards the clown who was making balloon animals.  Jacob and Angela raced after him, even though the churchyard was safe.  Rushing to get through the crowd, Jacob bumped into Sister Octavia, now quite older than Jacob remembered.  She smiled as he apologized, and patted him on the arm.

   “Don’t you worry yourself, Jacob; I’m quite alright, no harm done!”  She said soothingly.  Sister Octavia was one of the younger sisters who cared for the children.  She was very sweet and kind.  He remembered one kid named Joey who gave her hell.  Strange that he suddenly remembered Joey after all this time.  It was as if he had forgotten all about that kid since he was adopted years and years ago.  Looking back, there were several children that he could not clearly remember.  Perhaps it was the years, perhaps it was the plethora of pleasant memories with the Weinstein’s, but it seemed as if his memories of some of the other children had vanished. 

   Angela caught up to Bert and was in the process of getting a balloon animal, so Jacob hung back to speak to Sister Octavia.  He pointed towards the silent auction.

   “I’m impressed by the work you sisters did.  You could have all been artists, instead of nuns.”  He said.

   “The Lord has a plan for all of us, although some of us were quite talented, He chose us for the life of quiet servitude and contemplation.”

   “I don’t think raising dozens of kids in an orphanage could be described as quiet,” Jacob joked with a wry grin on his face.  “I remember being all sorts of loud and crazy as a kid, although not as bad as some could be.  Remember when Emerson replaced all the water in the baptismal font with vinegar?”

   Sister Octavia laughed, “I remember, she got in quite a bit of trouble for that little prank if I remember correctly.  Father Stevenson was very upset by the stunt when he spoke to her, but he couldn’t keep for laughing as he tried to explain to the other adults what she did!”

   “Whatever happened to Father Stevenson? Last I heard he was planning on retiring.”

   “Father Stevenson retired out to the oceanfront, but passed away a couple of years after his retirement.  Heart attack.” She said solemnly, crossing herself afterwards.

   “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” Jacob responded

   “It’s alright; it was almost ten years ago that he passed.  Honestly, I am surprised that you remember him; he was only here for a few years before you were adopted.  And you remembered Emerson too!  I would have thought you would have forgotten about her.”  There was a slight push in her voice as she mentioned Emerson.

   “Yeah,” Jacob ran his fingers through his air awkwardly, “It’s funny, I didn’t remember some of the other kids until I saw some of the paintings.  You know, Sister Mary never asked one of the Sisters to paint me before I was adopted.”

   “Well, if I remember correctly, the Weinstein’s were a little impatient in adopting you.” She said hurriedly, but quickly recovered her composure, “They fell in love with you minutes after meeting you and wanted you all to themselves!”

   “DADDY!! LOOK!!”  Bert was charging through the crowd, wiener dog balloon in hand.  Angela was hot on his heels.

   “Apologies, I’ve got to go,” Jacob said to Sister Octavia.  She smiled and nodded her head, moving away into the crowd.  Jacob picked up his son, smiling as Bert made the balloon animal bark and woof.  However, in the back of his mind, he could not shake the strange feeling that he should remember more of his time at St. Ursula’s. 

   “Everything OK?” Angela asked after a few minutes of silence.

   “Yeah, I think so.”  Jacob said, “It’s funny, even though I’ve been coming to church here now for 8 years, I’m just now realizing how much of my childhood I had forgotten.”

   “Not everyone remembers much of when they are young.”

   “I know, but it seems like stuff I should remember I shouldn’t.  For example, just remembered a kid that had been a complete troll back when we were seven.  He wouldn’t sit still, fought the sisters, and even attacked one of them.  But I had completely forgotten about him until I saw his portrait earlier today.”

   “Maybe that jogged your memory?” Angela asked

   “Perhaps, but I can’t help but think that it’s almost like my memories were erased or hidden.  Like, I should remember when a seven year old swung a pair of scissors at the Reverend Mother.”

   “That is pretty intense, but perhaps it just didn’t come up so you forgot it?”

   “Yeah, but I can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong.”

   “Honey, don’t worry about it, memory is a weird thing.  Let’s just enjoy ourselves!”

   Throughout the rest of the day, Jacob and Angela did enjoy themselves.  Deacon Todd was in the dunk tank, hurling friendly insults to would-be dunkers.  He would shout things like “I bet you couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn” and “If you don’t dunk me, I’ll make you an usher!”  Needless to say, he was dunked. If children missed, Father McNamara would tell them to just go and push on the target to dunk him anyway.  There was also a craft fair where local artisans would sell their wares.  Jacob had put Bert down while they strolled through the midway towards the craft fair.  Father McNamara gave Bert a high-five as they passed and told him to have fun. 

   Bert apparently took this as a challenge and proceeded to begin charging through the craft fair, yelling at the top of his lungs.  Jacob tried to catch Bert, but he kept running under tables and behind stalls.  Both Jacob and Angela were too tall to follow their son as he ran and screamed.  Unfortunately, he caught the tablecloth of the woman selling fruit preserved and knocked her table over.  Jars and jars of jelly came tumbling down, shattering on the pavement and covering Bert in jelly and glass. 

   Rushing up, Jacob, Angela, and the vendor all went to Bert to make sure he was all right.  Apart from a large egg on his forehead and some small cuts from the broken jars, he was largely unharmed.  Jacob picked him up and apologized profusely to the vendor, promising to pay for all the merchandise that was damaged.  She appreciatively thanked him, but told him to take care of the boy first.  Jacob ran inside the church with Bert.

   Sister Octavia met him at the door, offering a change of clothes for the boy and a tub to clean him in.  After getting him cleaned up, Sister Octavia produced a camera.

   “This is would be a great picture for the newsletter:  Father caring for son after Jelly Incident!” She said with a chuckle.  “Mind if I get a picture of you and Bert?”

   Looking at the sudsy tub, he nodded and directed Bert’s focus towards the camera. 


   After a blinding flash, he dressed his son and met up with Angela. 

   “All cleaned up?” She asked.

   “Yes, and clean clothes too!” He answered, “How did you get so dirty?” he asked his son playfully, but realized that he was at a loss to the answer.  He remembered that his son needed to be cleaned, but had forgotten why.  It worried him.  “Let’s go home.”

   Sister Octavia waved as they got into the car and headed home, holding a picture of Bert in the tub.  “He’ll behave now,” she said quietly, “Photographs are so much easier than painting, and Sister Mary was stuck in the past.”


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I actually really like this story though I hesitate to call it Horror. Nuns helping kids get adopted isn't all that bad.

( Unless you start thinking about fate and free will. )