The Orchard

Cameron Moore became an orphan at the age of 6. Both his parents died when their house was accidentally burned down, three years ago. A family BBQ dinner gone wrong. The social workers couldn’t locate any close relatives because his family was not registered in the region, The Moores were illegal residents.

St. Elizabeth Orphanage was his fourth home. He moved from one orphanage to another because of the states’ financial problem. His new home was a three-story building supervised by the nuns from the Convent of St. Martha. There was a wide orchard at the back of the house composed of berry shrubs and a variety of fruit trees and flowers.

Cameron shared a room that faces the orchard with two other orphans. It was a perfect place for him because the sun’s rays would shine directly on his bed and he could hear the birds chirp in the morning. The scent of the flowers and the fruit trees would even reach the room.

The orphans were allowed to play in the orchard every afternoon. They would collect ripe fruits and vegetables, put them inside a round basket and send it to the kitchen. They would play hide and seek and would run around the garden while a group of volunteers prepared snacks of freshly squeezed orange juice and biscuits. But every time the sun was about to set, Sister Claret, the nun-in-charge, would call them back to the house. Children are forbidden to stay outside the house after sunset. That was their no.1 rule.

Every month, community volunteers would conduct Outreach Programs to help the orphanage raise money. Orphans and nuns from other orphanages would attend the said program. They would organize activities for children and would sell handicrafts made by the orphans to the visitors. In the evening, meals would be served on the first floor of the building.

During dinner, Cameron noticed another nun standing outside the sliding glass door. He opened the door to let her in, thinking she had locked herself out, but she was gone. He searched for her outside the house and caught her in the orchard under the apple tree. He walked to her direction.

The nun had her back turned towards him. He heard a sobbing sound.

“Sister, is something wrong?” He asked. His voice was shaking from the cold evening breeze.

She didn’t respond. She was wearing a black habit covered by a veil that flows freely on the ground. He tapped her shoulder to call her attention. He looked down and noticed that the nun’s feet were not touching the ground.

The sobbing sound stopped. She turned around. It was when Cameron realized that there was no head under the veil.

He stood still in horror and then ran as fast as he could back to the house.

Later that night, he learned the history of the orchard where a nun was raped and beheaded, five decades ago. And up until now, no one had ever found her head.

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