"So evening chapel is one of the easier things on the schedule." Orlando informs me. "Basically all you have to do is sit there with your Bible and flip open to the pages he talks about?"
"Rev. Dr. Dennis Tubal. Aside from Dr. Joseph, he's the head honcho around here."
"Do you guys actually listen to what he says?" I ask.
Curtis interjects. "I stopped listening when he actually used the word 'fag' in one of his sermons, the first one I ever heard. Trust me, if you've heard one, you've heard them all."
"Plus I can learn more from that book than that old geezer could ever teach me just by reading it on my own." Orlando laughs.
"SHH!" A tall and lanky girl with short, ashy brown hair shushes us as we enter the sanctuary.
Paulina leans over and whispers, "Audrey Petruchio. One of the few here of her own free will."
"How's that making out for her?" I ask.
Curtis lets out a derisive laugh.
Orlando explains. "Silvia Orsino and her crew kick her ass twice a week, so...not well."
"Could be. But, believe it or not, Silvia needs people like Audrey to pick on. Helps her blow off steam n' shit. If there was no Audrey, Silvia would have snapped a long time ago."
"Pulled a Margaret Quincy, to put it lightly." Curtis mutters
Paulina's eyes fill with terror and claps her hand over Curtis' mouth. She whispers urgently to me. "Unwritten rule of Messina: unless you are in the privacy of your own cell, do NOT mention the MQ person. Ever."
Curtis moves away from Paulina and picks a pew with only one other occupant. A girl. Her head snaps to our direction and I see her better.
This was my first sighting of Thaisa Launce. It was most peculiar in several ways.
First of all she was essentially a reanimated corpse. Not like I described Paulina earlier, with her porcelain skin. This girl could have been invisible in a room full of white copy paper.
She was a skeleton wrapped too tightly in sickly skin, looking like she would shatter if someone touched her too roughly or carelessly. Sure her face was perfectly symmetrical with high cheekbones and a smooth complexion, but she as a person was a cry for help. She seemed to express only two emotions: terror or devoid of all emotion at all. Her nails were yellow, and though I could tell she was very tall, her back was hunched over, as if she wanted nothing more than to melt into the bench and hide from the world. Even her short, jet black hair had a few thin spots in it, overall creating a wretched human being. Everything about her was dead.
Except for her eyes.
Thaisa's eyes were a perfect storm of greys, blues, greens, and violets. They reminded you that she was indeed alive and possibly awakened a new life within you. While everything about her was sepulchral and miserable, her eyes were a hurricane.
The moment I saw her eyes was the moment I decided she was beautiful.
"Thaisa?" Curtis asked gently. "Anyone sitting here?"
She shook her head. And so our quartet took seats next to the beautiful corpse, with me next to her. I wish I could have talked to her. Instead, I had to listen to a two hour rant by a crotchety old man with difficulty breathing about how at this moment, every single one of us was "on a highway straight to hell in a faggot hand basket". BUT THAT'S OKAY! BECAUSE WE CAN REPENT OUR GRIEVOUS SINS BY LISTENING TO THE DOCTORS AND PRAYING WE MIGHT GET BETTER AND LIVE ON THE RIGHTEOUS PATH FROM NOW ON!
"What a load of bullshit." I muttered to myself.