It was a temperamental habit, but it was the only one clean. Her best still in the hamper, soiled from fixing sinks in the Novice’s Hall. She smoothed down the restless veil and handed the doorman her ticket.
“Not an act.”
He arched a brow and read her pass. “Sister Marion?”
He shrugged and opened the door to let her join the throng of contestants.
She ignored the whispers and only looked up enough to find a seat.
She jumped and glanced up into a face with more metal than skin. “Yes.”
“Cool.” He sat. “I did a paper on different monastic orders for school.”
She appraised him anew and wondered what middle-school would have students doing such papers.
“That real or a costume.”
He grinned. “Even cooler.”
They sat in quiet as his fingers drummed out a rhythm. “So what makes a Nun come to a singing competition?”
“God called me.”
He laughed. “Like on a cellphone?”
She pursed her lips and he leaned back from her glare. “Not a phone. Signs.”
He leaned forward. “What kind of signs?”
Would it hurt to tell him? Probably not. “My parents passed recently.” He made a noise of condolence. “That same day I heard an announcement for this competition. I knew it was God freeing me from my family obligations and providing me an opportunity at my dream.”
Just then a woman with a clipboard stepped into the room. “Gabriel Kingsley?” The pierced youngster bounced up and waved as he disappeared through the door.
All too soon he was back, beaming. “You got in?”
“Naw. They said no.”
He shrugged. “That’s OK. It was a blast anyway.”
She was next. The three panelists eyed her curiously but refrained from comment. She stepped up and sang. The power flowed and she felt alive. She sang her second. Heads bobbed, toes tapped. When they asked for her third she knew she was in. God had led her here and his grace lifted her up. She had never sounded so good.
“Thank you Sister Marion. Keep practicing. You’re almost there.”
Almost? She didn’t remember the walk out.
One moment she was in shock and the next Gabriel was at her elbow. “You going on?”
“No.” She blinked up at him in the thin winter sun.
“Aw, that sucks.”
“How can that be? How can God lead me to this exact spot only to have me fail?”
“Have you ever wanted to go to Mars?”
He blinked and looked between her and the advertisement. “Seriously?”