Sin was something I knew everything about.
My parents called me sinful.
The people in the carriage to the convent called me sinful.
The nuns called me sinful.
The Reverend Mother called me sinful.
People who heard I'd fled from the convent called me sinful.
There was hardly anyone who didn't call me sinful in this world.
In truth, it was them. They were the sinful ones. People call others sinful to hide from their own sin. They think that if they can spot out sin in the crowd, God will change their mind about them. Forgive them for their own sins, even if they skip mass every other week. I knew who the sinful people were. It was them.
My parents, first off. My mother constantly engaged in adultery and my father was constantly jealous. But Mother was the sinful one. Had she not been a bad person to the bone, father would never have been jealous.
The people in the coach knew nothing at all of my sinfulness. Father put me on the couch and never looked back at me. Of course the people would think I was sin itself. But I knew better. I saw a lady who stole a man's purse. I saw a rather shadowy figure who was clearly hiding from someone else in the coach. Clearly there was some sort of sin both were engaged in. I saw a young man who said filthy words to a lady who was sitting next to him.
They were sinful people. Not I. I was only supposedly a changeling.
Then I came to the convent. The nuns seemed at first to be the best people in the world, until I grew up to the age of 12 and was called to the Reverend Mother's office. The nuns inspected me, then beat me and touched me. It happened several times. Sometimes I heard of it happening to other girls. Nobody spoke about it, but it was there. Sometimes, when I crept through the convent at nighttime, hoping to steal something from the kitchen to still my gnawing hunger, I heard groups of grown-up nuns doing it to each other. It disgusted me. That was sin.
I finally got my hands on books when I was 14. The nuns threw away all the gift books they recieved, but I knew where they were. I mended them and read them from cover to cover. I learned from them of the behaviour of the nuns. I learned of the relationships between man and woman. I learned of children, I learned Latin, I learned Hebrew and Greek. I learned of art, of music. I learned that there was a world outside the convent walls. I learned how to escape.
The Reverend Mother discovered my books. She had me burn each and every one of them. Then she put me in the Nook. But I was prepared. I had gathered all of my things and I had learned how to unlock the nook from the inside. I stole every fine thing I could find and carry and ran.