“It breaks her that she had to give away her child. I knew it would be tough. But I hadn’t expected it to be that hard! She often cries, dreadfully. I had no idea that a human being is able to let out such horrible sounds. Her crying….it was terrible…it was devilish. She won’t eat or drink. Oh, goodness! I even tried to force something into her!” Father Michael sounded horrified and ashamed of his own behavior.
I stood behind the closed office door and eavesdropped on his conversation. I wasn’t sure whether he was talking on the phone or had a visitor. I jumped with fright when he began to speak again after a while. “She spoke about leaving. She wants to give up and leave everything behind she has started. I locked her up in her bedroom. I didn’t know what to do,” he said, regretfully.
There was silence again and I imagined his sad and anxious face, while he listened to a person on the phone. But then I could hear a second voice, coming from the office. It was Mister Hawk’s! It was him, who had listened to the Father silently all the time, telling him what had happened in the last few days.
“How are you doing with all of this?” my former neighbor asked.
For a few moments, I couldn’t hear anything. Probably, the Father was thinking about his answer. But then he said: “I feel hardly better. I often lie awake all night and cry and grieve for my child. Now I must mourn for Ada, too. It is breaking my heart to see her like that. Usually, she’s always so strong, Bernard.” He lost his voice at the last word. I heard a soft sniveling sound.
“Michael, she is strong. You are both strong,” Mister Hawk replied.
The Father laughed, scornfully. “I’m not as strong as you and Ada think I am.”
I heard the pain and disappointment in his voice. Suddenly, I felt terribly selfish, because I had never tried to help him, but had only thought of my own loss. Not once I had thought of him suffering, too. And now he even reproached himself, was disappointed by himself and felt ashamed for the things he had done to help me.
“If things go on like that, I will let her go, Bernard,” Father Michael said, sighing. He sounded calmer and determined. I caught my breath. Would he really let me go?
“You love this woman, Michael! You wouldn’t have the heart to do so,” Mister Hawk said.
“Yes, I do love her more than anything else. But I surely won’t watch her starving herself to death, because she longs for her baby!”
I heard a creaking sound and footsteps behind the door. Certainly, the Father walked up and down in his office now.
“She has changed so much. I miss her voice, her laugh. But now there’s only silence here. Where is the cheerful girl, who could make me laugh and conquered my heart?” he asked, but he didn’t receive an answer from the other man. But I had one for him!
Angrily, I pushed open the door. Father Michael stood in front of the tapestry with the image of the Virgin Mary and looked at me open-mouthed and with wide eyes. Mister Hawk sat on the chair in front of the Father’s desk. His hands were folded and lay on his walking stick, of which I knew he didn’t need it in fact. With his watery eyes he looked at me closely. He didn’t seem to be surprised about my being here. It was scary. As if he had known that I had stood behind the door, listening.
“Ada,” Father Michael breathed surprised and came to me. He suddenly stopped, when he realized how mad I was.
“You want to know, where the girl is you fell in love with?” I asked, looking at him furiously. He just stared at me, still stunned about my appearance and probably regretting his decision to not have locked me up again. “That girl no longer exists, Michael! She died the moment you took away the child from her and locked her up in her room like a prisoner! You wanted me to grow up, remember? And like you once said: I’m not your clown who’s there for your entertainment.” Furiously, I turned around and slammed the door shut. I walked down the stairs. The last thing I heard was Father Michael’s voice, pleadingly calling my name and asking me to come back. But I didn’t want to and he also didn’t follow me.