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Kate's head swam as she sat on the floor of her bedroom, with just her pajama bottoms on. She thought she might pass out. Her demons as always were close behind in the darkness. It felt like there was a rock in her stomach, and it hurt. Nine year old's aren't supposed to have this kind of anxiety, she thought. But she remembered about all her girlfriends and their problems. In fact, that was what they spent the majority of their time talking about. Sometimes they talked about boys, but that was mostly to appear older than they were to younger schoolmates. Her obsession with boys had not fully bloomed yet.

She was getting too much conflicting information. Kate was trying to do everything right. She truly wanted to make her parents proud and live up to the expectations of her teachers. She wanted to live a righteous life, help others and go to heaven. She knew she wasn't perfect, and she certainly didn't want to be a "little miss goody two shoes". That was just uncool.

Kate had just reached that age where you start to question the absolute authority of your parents and realize that your parents are not "always" right. But so many of her own experiences were starting to conflict with what she was taught at the School of Saint Mary Magdalene by the sisters, and even what her parents told her to a lesser extent. She felt that she could dodge most of the mortal sins, because you had to know it was seriously wrong and still go ahead and do it. Especially where the ten commandments were concerned. She might skirt the edges of false witness with some of her "exagerations". Venial sins were another matter. It seemed like almost every thought, action, or dream was a venial sin. But old Sister Bernadette listed things like anger, getting drunk, being envious, greedy jealous or even being a coward as mortal sins. When the local school bully, Anette came around, Kate got literally weak in the knees. Did that make her a coward. Had she committed a mortal sin? She knew that there were other religions, but it seemed like almost everybody she knew was Catholic. So there must be a WHOLE LOT of them.

What about the times her mother tells her to finish her dinner, "There are people starving in Africa." She can just see some poor African who is gaunt, with hollow eyes, and plagued by some skin eating disease that leaves the raw meat of his body visible. Kate's own reality and one that is shared by her closest friends is that only the pretty skinny girls have a good life. Eating the last bit of food on her plate will not help that poor creature in Africa, but it will make her fat.

The knot in her stomach grew tighter and her head started to hurt more. She had been told by one of the nuns that all women are born into sin, because of Eve. Not that she had them yet, but she was told that her period was a punishment from God, as well as pain during child birth. How was she to ever be "good" if in the eyes of God she was already a sinner. When she saw a Victoria's Secret catalog, she wondered what sort of shape her own body would have when she grew up. Was that a sin to wonder? What about the new initiate who wasn't a nun yet, but had started teaching at school. It was obvious that under all those robes, she was a very shapely woman. Did she wear things from the Victoria's Secret catalog? While we are at it, what is Victoria's secret? Is it that all women are temptresses whether they want to be or not? She saw how older girls at school acted around boys. The pretending to be coy, and the flirting. Was that a sin too?

How is one to know what is truly right and wrong?


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