‘Where’s your family?’ they asked.
‘Gone,’ she made several swallowing motions, ‘in a fire.’
‘Where do you live?’
‘Nowhere,’ her voice broke, ‘it all burned down.’
They exchanged a look.
‘Please,’ she said and tears welled up into her eyes again, ‘please let me stay with you. I’ll do anything.’
They nodded to each other. Then they took her hand, wiped the tears off her cheeks and welcomed her to the convent.
‘We can cut your hair tomorrow,’ said the matron mother, ‘for now, rest. I’m sure you need it.’
One of the nuns led her to a small room on the first floor. The only inventory was a bed and a chair.
‘It can get cold in winter,’ said the nun, ‘then you might have to sleep with the younger girls in the dormitory.’
She thanked the nun as if she had been offered a castle.
The next day they cut her hair and showed her around the convent. She listened attentively to anything they told her and did everything they asked. She soon settled, after two weeks they saw her first real smile. She did not talk about her family and they did not ask. After all, they had died very recently; it was not strange if she did not want to be reminded of her sorrow.
Everything went as it should for another month. Then the convent burned down.
No one knew where the fire had begun. When it was discovered late one night, it had already engulfed half the first floor and it spread as if it were chased by the Devil himself. A few desperate souls threw some water on it from the well to no avail. Many of the nuns must have died in their sleep. Those who woke turned into banshees. But no amount of screaming could stop it.
When the flames subsided over the crumbled remains, a slight figure limped away from the scene. With her burnt rags, her face smudged with ashes and her large beautiful brown eyes brimming with tears, she went seeking solace.