Flash Literature, Poetry, Art and Photography!








Carolyn McGovern




I can’t get Sister Patti to take her nun costume off.  And I understand, I really do.  It’s tough for a fat gal to find something to wear.  Every day.  Day in.  Day out.  It’s a gal’s dream to just throw on a jumbo-sized black tent and call it a day.


But the fact of the matter is this.  I think there is some kind of religious law, or maybe even a real law, which says you can’t wear a nun costume if in fact you aren’t really a nun.  The problem is, no one knows for sure about Sister Patti.  Not the prosecutor, not the judge.  Not even her own mother (Well, she could be a nun.  She was away for awhile.  You know how kids are).


So here she sits.  A 43 year old kid, four feet by four feet, smiling at me with her ruddy red kickball-sized nun face.  Sporting full nun-gear.  Rosary beads dangling from her wide girth.  Head packed tight, straining in a circular vice around her face.  No expectation for makeup.     


She says once more.  “Ms. Mahoney, I AM a nun.  I’ve told you all the places I’ve worked...”


“Yes, yes, I know.  You’ve named all the places you’ve been affiliated with.  It’s just that, we haven’t been able to verify any one of those places.”  I’m shaking my head, studying the presentence report.


The Carmens of the Sisterhood.  The Sisterhood of the Nunhood.  The Sisterhood of the Carmen Electras. The closest I got was: “I think I recall her.  A big gal?  She was here three days, and then left. With our habit!”


Sister Patti yanks the habit out of the top roll of her belly and says, “I haven’t been with any particular church, you know, in quite a while.  I’m setting my sights on starting my own establishment.” 


I yank my blouse from my own belly-rolls and say, “Yeah, no, I don’t think so.  You can’t just go around wearing nun costumes and...”


“This is not a costume!  I told you, this is a religious garment of God.  You should have more respect.”  


I’ve gotta get this tank out of the alleged sacred blanket.  I’ve been doing this probation officer thing for over 20 years.  Murderers, drug offenders, violent offenders.  And by far, Sister Patti has been the most challenging.


My fear is that she will be out there doing things.  Fake smiles.  Fake prayers.  Fake holiness.  And then they will give her fake holy money.  Where will all the fake nun-stuff stop?


I peer over the desk and down at her black man-shoes hugging her swollen ankles.  I try to move my own puffy toes inside my pointy heels and they are trapped, one on top of the other.  I sigh.


The truth?  I long to pull a nun costume off the floor, throw it on, out the door in under two minutes.  The way my husband does it.  The way Sister Patti does it. 


What I know is that the nun wearing a size two looks no better than the nun wearing the size sixteen.   Big breasts?  Small breasts?  Chunky thighs?  Cellulite?   A gal could eat herself into oblivion underneath that thing.


I smile, close my eyes, make a gurgling sound. 


“Ms.  Mahoney?  Are you even listening to me?  You look out of it.  What was that noise you just made?”


I look back to the ample nun sitting before me.  She is still yanking and tugging at the belted part of her costume.  She rolls her eyes.  “I saaaaid.  What’s this obsession you have with me?  With my being a nun?  What’s your problem anyway?”  She looks right to that place between my two center-buttons, a big slab of belly gushing out.  She smirks and nods.    

I squint at the big gal before me and say, “Ms. Parkinson, I am not going to tell you again.  You are a convicted felon.  Not a nun.  And as such, you need to take that costume off now!”


“You have no idea what you are doing.  I have a calling.  A special calling.  Something you people know nothing about.”  She is pointing right at me with a very pudgy nun-finger, dirt beneath the fingernail.  She shoves her nun-glasses back up her pug nose and grunts.


“You owe a quarter of a million dollars, Ms. Parkinson.  A QUARTER OF A MILLION!  Your only calling is to start paying it back.”  I look down at the report, squint, and continue,

“... at the rate of $50 a month..”  I stop, look back at the report, repeat, “...that’s right, $50 a month!” 


I slip out of my heels and ignore the smell.  I bend and stretch my feet real good, then bend my head back, eyes closed, and sigh.  I tug at my skirt, tug at my blouse.  A single bead of sweat escapes down my spine.


I roll my head forward and say, “Nuns don’t embezzle money.  They just don’t.  For the last time, you are being instructed to take that nun costume off, and start wearing civilian clothes.  Cause’ that’s what you are, Ms. Parkinson.  A civilian.”  A big FAT civilian!!


Her red face goes white.  Her mouth is a circle.  Her eyes are filling up.  They spill over.  She is sobbing.  Sobbing loudly.  “MS. MAHONEY.  YOU CAN’T DO THIS TO ME!!  I’VE GOT NOTHING TO WEAR!  NOTHING FITS!  NOTHING!!”


I knew it!  I knew it!  Huh. 


I push away from my desk and arch my achy back.  A button pops and lands on my desk directly between me and Sister Patti.  We both stare at it.            


She wipes the bubble coming out of her nose onto her nun-sleeve and snorts, “I got nothing to wear, Ms. Mahoney.  I plead with you to let me wear this...this...costume.”


We lock eyes.  I sigh.  I nod. 


CAROLYN MCGOVERN tells SHINE! "As a recently retired probation officer, I’ve had more time to focus on my writing, which has been a long-time passion. I LOVE to write, and at times it is the thing that gets me up in the morning. I’ve written many short stories, both fiction and non-fiction, although I’ve never attempted to have any of them published until recently. When I was a kid, I sold stories to my family for a dime, if that counts for anything."

Motivation: "Twenty years as a probation officer (and many more years as a female) was my motivation/inspiration for this story."  E-mail address: