They took her out to the vegetable garden to punish her, telling her that the eyes of God were everywhere, but it was an imposition to ask him to see inside buildings and through walls. So she was beaten outside, usually pressed face-first against a rough-barked tree by a calloused, strong hand, and she was told the whole time that God was observing her punishment. If there was anything unjust, a woman's voice said, then God would surely intervene, and if He chose not to, then there as no wrong done in his eyes.
When she was three, old enough to know what was happening, two of the nuns dressed more heavily than she'd seen any of them dress before; robes over robes over thin metal sheets beaten into curves that approximated the human form over padding and thin blouses. Then, attired as rather bulky, unattractive women, they'd taken her out from the nunnery, walked for half a day to a pleasant cliff-top where a river ran along a stony bed and then leapt off and out, a rainbow-laden waterfall to a valley below. Birds called to one another and swooped and sang in the air, and insects chittered and chattered as they busied themselves about their business. The nuns pointed out the birds, showed her with infinite care how to draw back leaves and grasses to see the insects, and marvelled with her at the infinite variety of God's Kingdom. Then they took her to the cliff edge to see the rainbows hanging the in the spray from the waterfall, each took a hand, and swung her back and forth three times. At the peak of the third swing they let go, and she flew out into the air, off and away from the cliff, and fell to the valley below.
The world seemed to tumble around her as she flew, the air growing cold as it rushed past her ever faster, and the birds cries of astonishment turned to drawn out screams as the sound dopplered away. When the tumbling stopped she was head down, and the trees and grasses and rocks of the valley were growing larger and closer by the second. She closed her eyes, tensed her whole body, and screamed.
"Fizz?" The voice was thin, and it tasted white. She swallowed, not entirely pleased with the flavour.
"Fizz, open your eyes please?" She shrugged, wondering if she was being held again – wait, why did she think again? – and opened her eyes. She could move freely. Above her was a suspended ceiling, with those funny acoustic ceiling tiles that deadened noise so that large offices could be open-plan without confusing everyone with unending echoes. There was a fluorescent light tube a little way away from her eyes, turned on. Of course.
"Fizz, where do you think you are?"
She thought about that; she could remember falling to the ground again, screaming into the light, but... but that wasn't here, was it? This was an office of some kind. This was... this was the office of the psychiatristic Moore, wasn't it?
"I'm here with you, Dr. Moore," she said. Her voice was warm, but it never tasted of anything. She didn't know why. "You're psychiatring me, aren't you? As you do every Monday and Thursday, business permitting."
"I'm providing you with a safe space where you may talk freely," said Dr. Moore, his voice quavering slightly on the sibilants. "As your boss wants, as you know."
"Then are we done for today?" Fizz sat up; the office around her was small, cluttered, and beige. The walls were beige, the desk was tan, the blotter on the desk was beige, and the pens on the blotter were muddy brown. Even the paper, squared neatly with the edge of the desk, was an off-yellow colour. Dr. Moore seemed to live in a sepia world.
"We got no further than last time," said Dr. Moore. There was a tapping noise, perhaps a pen against a pad of paper. "We need to be more productive. It would help if you could remember why the nuns wanted to get rid of you."
"Yes," said Fizz, memories stirring in the back of her mind, but none coming forwards. "That is odd, isn't it?"
"Murderous nuns usually make the news," said Dr. Moore. He sighed. "Unless they were all killed of course."
There was a pause, a momentary silence while Fizz's memories coiled in the darkness of her mind like snakes settling down again to sleep. "Killed?" she asked, sure that Dr. Moore wouldn't wake the snakes now.
"There's a possibility," said Dr. Moore, his voice fainter still, "that someone, or something, killed the nuns shortly after they thought they'd killed you."
"The ones who threw me off...?"
"All of them."