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The lights went out. Rachel waited quietly in her bed for half an hour. She tiptoed to the window of her room, the last on the B Wing corridor of the women’s hostel. Outside, she could see the silhouettes of the chapel and the administrative block. Black trees stood still against the deep purple sky. “Seven months and three days” she murmured to herself.
For seven months and three days her life had moved ahead like clockwork. She had a fixed routine that had to be diligently adhered to. Worse, there were many restrictions in place. The food in the mess was lousy and the gates closed by seven in the evening. The lights went out at ten at night and she had to be in bed, no matter what.
The sudden confinement at the convent after her carefree school days suffocated her. She longed to go out on her own and do things she liked. Things that her time-table at the hostel had left out. She did not want to do anything crazy or dangerous, just something that would make her feel good again. Something outside her monotonous schedule.
She moved away from the window and walked stealthily along the corridor. Climbing the stairs to the terrace in her night clothes and flip flops, her hands gripping a package wrapped in newspaper, she felt accomplished in a strange way. Laying out the contents of the package she smiled her best smile. She had invited a few of her friends, but they had been too scared.
“Happy birthday to me!” she sang alone into the night. She wasn't sure if it was the wine or the momentary freedom, but she felt wonderful as she lay under the starry sky.