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Treasure

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Sister Aloysius’s hand disappeared underneath the table. Sister James kept her gaze on her plate, watching the older woman out of her periphery.

“Sister Patricia, would you pass the water pitcher, please.”

Sister Aloysius accepted the pitcher, pouring the water shakily with her non-dominant hand.

Sister James wiped her mouth on her napkin using both hands and when she set it down, her right hand disappeared under the table discretely. Sister Aloysius’s was awaiting hers, palm up and inviting. Sister James’s hand slid gently over the curves of Sister Aloysius’s hand.

They continued their dinner in silence, fingers laced together.

**

My love, you are as welcome as the first crocus after a long, harsh winter. It was unsigned, but somehow the paper was imbued with the scents of Aloysius’s office - Earl Grey tea and pencil lead, the burn of overhead lightbulbs, the pages of an oft-read book.

The note, slipped to her one night as they passed silently in the hallway, was one of her most treasured possessions.

It lived in an old cigar box, which belonged to her grandfather long ago, with her godmother’s rosaries, her mother’s white lace gloves and the last picture ever taken of her sister.