Cantina"s Remorse (A Shannon O"Day Sketch)

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((Washington High School, as told by a Schoolmate) (fall, 1966)) As told by a Schoolmate From a little after the abortion until almost the middle of fall, now in school, at Washington High School, off Rice Street, near Maryland, during these chilled days of October, Catherine O'Day (better known as Cantina sat in what Miss Hildegard Kremer, librarian, who had attended the University of Alabama) as often as Cantina could, sat in that dim hot airless library room with blinds wide open and fastened tightly as for the students not to close them, because that light and unmoving air carried heat, and she didn't like to be cool, and that as the sun shone wider and hotter on that side of the building, less students seemed to come in, bothered by the sun's rays, and heat, especially in the summer and spring months.
The shelves were still full of dust, and cobwebs, they had drifted inward in back of the books and above the books, and chips of old dried-up paint, that the wind-had the wind had a chance, had Miss Gardner opened up those windows, would have perhaps shifted about some.
Outside the window was a large pine tree, its truck like iron ore, its branches extended outward as if it had fingers (in particularly this one), and this certain one, appeared to have its own torso in-between its beginning and end.
Sparrows came often to settle and gossip on that old thick branch, they had a nest someplace above that branch.
The tree was near as tall as the three story building.
They'd fly on and off of that branch, randomly, all day long; it was-looked like anyhow, a meeting place, a safe haven.
Miss Gardner lived in white and black cloths, which she worn for eternity it seemed to us students.
She was in her late forties.
She never spoke of a dead or past husband, children, sister or brother, not a boyfriend-like-husband, either.
We all figured at the school though, she had a mother and father, everyone gets one of those.
And Cantina, my best of best friends, and a friend to many of us at school, she just sat there by that window, where the sparrows met, straight upright, in those straight hard-rock like chairs, her legs rigid as if they were made out of that same iron ore the pine tree was made out of, and her ankles resting on another chair to the side of her, the floor shinning from wax, over waxed, and talking-no, more like mumbling to herself, in a grim tired voice, wondering if her dead infant was in hell or heaven, or someplace in-between, self-puzzled, and now the short-dead, no longer was an object, it was a baby, more important now than in that near indomitable past, while in her world of frustration, so it appeared to us.
Quiet, safe, out of the reach of humanity, there she sat, dreamy in that dominant sun-dust room, day after day after day-whenever she could, even after school hours.
I was standing by a shelf of books behind Cantina, she was sitting in her usual place, Miss Gardner knew I would over hear, and that her words would not simply vanish, and we never thought of her as sweet and oversweet, more on the unsmiling savage, quiet, sun impacted, near distilled, kind of an embattle woman, until today-about the faint laced of light shinning on Cantina's face, that wrangled face, a crucified child she said: "Don't guilt yourself too much.
God doesn't.
God forgives and forgets and cares for your little one, King David confirmed that Biblically.
" And then out of the long silence, like a stream, a trickle of rain cam from her eyes, she looked up at Miss Gardner, her face was like a ghost, a pale shadowy haunted face, she had, the voice which now echoed, ran through her body (woman-God-demon) all at once.
They both were now immobile.
In her long astonishment, "How do you know that?" said Cantina.
And Miss Gardner knew I was listening, suddenly the large big library, that seemed miles long, now tranquil, soundless, nothing but light and heat and breathing could be heard, "Let me explain my view on the matter of your abortion, knowing so well, how young people are deceived, if that is okay with you? It seems that a certain demon has named you his quest for 1966.
Strange isn't it.
" I expected to here violent outrage, from her, but she was with gentleness, and I almost died, wanting to here what she had to say, all us at the school had talked on Catalina's abortion, in one way or another.
No one wronged her for what she did, at least to her face.
Yes, save for Miss Gardner, Cantina, would perhaps still be at that window looking at those sparrows.
She said: Miss Gardner A Crucial Answer "There is not a specific commandment against infanticide, or abortion, anymore than we have laws against wife killing, it is one commandment, and it covers all killings; although I'm sure those having the abortions, or in support of it, have created one.
The question begs to be answered, is it forgivable? And I've already told you it is, but in your disparity, where does the child go? If I tell you, do not take it as a license to have another abortion.
For as you know, there are arguments in favor of abortion, as well as the opposite.
And this is a biblical answer for you, not a way out for future responsibility; as some would use it for legitimately use it for, to destroy more life.
They use the concept of Genesis 2:7, that the baby is not human until it draws its first breath.
This normally is the so called religious-for the nonreligious argument, that of course is stretching the obvious, you see Cantina, and the fetus is not 'inanimate matter.
' Case closed; but I shall make more of it.
We see also in Exodus 21, 'Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot...
' if this is the case and if those folks want to used the Old Testament, then they are in for a part of this ruling: 'burning for burning, wound for would, (and) stripe for stripe.
' And let me add to that, in Jeremiah chapter one, God tells Jeremiah to write: 'Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee...
' It would be silly, would it not, for God to form non-persons in the womb? And did you know, God consecrated Jeremiah as a prophet while he was in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5) So if you are asking me indirectly, if you did right or wrong, you already know that answer; and as you're father said to you '...
it's not the unpardonable sin,' but neither is it a license to destroy more life.
For the second part of your question, 'Where is the child?' "First of all we know that God said to King David 'You are a man after my own heart.
' We can assume by this, they had a close relationship.
Second, King David answers a question-or a few questions-about his own child who has died, and he answers it this way: 'Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.
' So upon King David's death, he expects to see his infant child, and we all know he's not headed for Hell.
He also is told, 'While the child was alive, you fasted and wept; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.
' He knew where the child was, and Jesus tells us to become like children, innocent: 'Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.
' All this tells us, children of no formal reasoning who die before there time, as in abortion, is with God in heaven-presently.
" As I listened to Miss Gardner-and I knew now, Cantina was feeling better, she was smiling: only she doesn't mean that, I thought.
She's saying it, because she wants it told.
It was early morning-and whatever was the truth, I wanted to thank her for saying it anyhow, I really loved Cantina, but I didn't understand everything she was saying anyways.
And then she was handed a note by one of the office secretaries, asking her to call and see someone in the office.
It looked like a quaint, stuffy informal request, more like a summons.
And then I found out later, as we all found out later, a teacher from biology was listening behind a book rack-unseen or unnoticed of course, no one knew, and due to this, she was never seen of again at Washington High, the biology teacher was a substitute teacher I heard, because I never recognized her when I saw her walking the halls: her character was cold, implacable, and even ruthless.
For a second, I had imagined her not there, as if her mother had an abortion.
No: 561(1-4-2009)
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