Historical setting: 584 C.E. Ligugè
As a guest at Ligugè I’m assigned to visitor’s quarters in a small room in the villa while the monks are outside the walls in caves and hovels. In my last life here as a monk my cell was made of a few stones but mostly of sticks and branches and I feel it was much too easy to burn down.
Since the abbot saw Brother August and I talking together, he assigned him to be my mentor for chores and for learning the Rule of Ligugè. And this week we are tasked with serving the meals. Preparing to break the fast is a good way to start life in a new place.
I come into this day in deepest darkness with the echoes of the chants of night haunting these matins and I am at the cooking hearth and ready to begin. Brother August hasn’t yet arrived so I just go ahead and lay the cutlery on the boards and put some wood on the fire, but I don’t know what else to do to prepare. I see bread is rising here. I need to find Brother August to learn the plan he has in mind for this. I know his cell was near the graveyard because he was at his cell when he saw me there yesterday. The early light is already in the east, so maybe I should just go tap on his door to wake him.
Of course Brother August assumes I’m my own son and that keeps our past journey a secret. And here I find Brother August is taking in his washed clothing left to dry last night spread out on a bush. I’m a bit surprised to see him unclothed because he no longer has the breasts of a woman but his chest is marked with a surgeon’s blade. He sees me and quickly covers himself with his scapular as though a man’s bare chest were a secret.
“Excuse me,” I offer, “I didn’t mean to surprise you; I just didn’t know when we needed to start the meal preparation. I really didn’t mean to impose.”
August answers, “And I didn’t mean to hide myself so abruptly. It’s just that I have a scar I choose not to explain.”
“Of course. I also have scars I don’t wish to explain.”
So it’s agreed. I won’t mention the wounds still healing so that everyone can just go on pretending it was my father who was crushed to death in Bordeaux.