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Dave: What happen to the rebel? 

Me: I lost that part of me…can’t remember when or where or why…

Dave: A pretty girl in a pretty dress, very well behaved and always polite. That’s how you look like. But that’s not the real Cari. This girl can’t run barefoot by the sea, she cannot climb to the top of the tree, she cannot eat chocolate with both hands and laugh from the heart…

Me: She cannot escape…

“-I will run away! I swear to God I will! And if any of you is trying to stop me, then…see these fingernails? Do you all see them? Good, cause that’s the last thing to be seen if any of you is touching me!

Laura’s voice sounded very strident. Left all alone in a boarding school…a new girl ready to be fixed, ready to be thought to swallow her frustrations and act like a proper young lady. That’s how her parents thought. That’s what she heard them say. Sister Maria and Sister Teresa were both calm but worried, not knowing how to react.

She heard Laura’s voice from the hallway and rushed down the stairs. She was feeling directly responsible since Padre Antonio gave her the assignment to be the “big sister” for the 14 years old girl who just came in school having serious behavior problems. That’s how he said. Funny thing, she thought to herself, to give such pretentious name to the lack of love…

She opened the door to Laura’s room, interrupting her unstoppable speech.

-Hi Laura. I’m Cari, it’s so nice to finally meet you!

The nuns watched terrified how she got closer to Laura and, ignoring the warning, opened her arms to give her a big hug. Laura pushed her away but she didn’t lost her balance.

-And who the hell are you? Wait, I remember! My big sister! (started to laugh with sarcasm) You’re going to show me around and help me accommodate! Ha! Guess again! No, better get the hell out of here!

She remained calm asking the nuns to leave them alone. They left, closing the door behind them.

-So you’re brave! A true missionary! Do you think you can change me? Convince me to play the good girl part so you’ll continue to be teacher’s favorite pet?

-Is any of these helping you, Laura?

Laura seemed confused. The question was formulated in a very gentle tone and she stopped shouting.

-What? What “any of these”?

-Your anger. The aggressiveness. Pushing people away.

-I do what I want! No one has the right to change me.

She smiled remembering herself 4 years ago.

-You’re right, Laura. I wont try to change you, anyway. Just wanted to welcome you. I never had a little sister so I thought we could be friends. If not…that’s it. Now that we’re clear about it, I’ll let you arrange your clothes.


She turned around with the joy of winning a small battle.

-You said your name is Cari? You could help me with something…I was wondering if during the night…

-Oh, Laura…this is not jail! If you wanna run away, you can! But be careful with the bushes, I fell once, scratched my knees! Wanna see the marks? (she showed her the thin scars) And to my complete bad luck, the next day we had to kneel down in church. I had bloody knees and I told them that St. Mary’s statue is crying tears of blood, due to their sins. They didn’t believed!

Laura started to laugh.

-You’re crazy, girl!

-You’ll be too after 4 years of eating rice pudding every Friday! I swear…they could fill a swimming pool with all the rice pudding I had to eat! Be careful with Sister Christina! If she sees you too thin, you get an extra portion! And she sees us all too thin cause she needs glasses…maybe wear a pillow under your uniform…

-Stop it, Cari! My stomach hurts from all the laughing! Girl, you’re my kind!

-I must be! They said we’re sisters!

Laura seem to melt down a little.

-Cari, can you help me with the uniform? Is horrible!

-It is…we need to shorten the skirt and to customize it a little. Do you like butterflies? I made a few from this silky fabric, you just pick the color and I’ll sew them wherever you like. Or better, I’ll give them all to you!

Laura seemed embarrassed. For the first time, her eyes had a special melancholic nuance.

-You’re very nice to me…after I pushed you away when you wanted to give me a hug…I’m…I’m…

-No! Don’t apologize! Don’t even mention it! I know how it was for me when I first arrive to the Institute…It must be just as hard for you…so if I can do anything at all to make it easier, I’ll do it.


-Forever friends! You’re my kind too! Here…my favorite chocolate, take it as a welcoming gift…is Friday so…

-Rice pudding?

-I’m afraid so. But if you can’t stand it, I’ll share the torture with you. What do you say, little sister? Are we fighting the system together?

Laura hugged her. The honesty in her gesture was impressive and all she could think was how wrong they all are. About Laura. About herself. About all the rebellious children punished for asking out loud their right to be loved.”

Dave: You and Laura are still friends? After 5 years…

Me: She’s still my little sister. I may have changed, but I never closed that door. And maybe the rebel in me is still there…waiting for the right challenge to speak out loud his truths!