So two days later I was ushered out of the nunnery, out of the big hollow room through which I had first come. Through roundabout ways my aunt’s address was found. I had only to find the street. I stepped out into the street with too-large shoes on, and a very bland baggy dress. I pulled the door closed behind me and then regretted it. The streets were full of people shouting and crowding all over. I didn’t want to walk out into it, but it was too late to go back now. I took a deep breath and pushed my way through. I walked in the path of least resistance for a while, just trying to get my bearings. The stores were empty, the windows dirty and bare. Children ran around begging from everyone. I was frightened when they came near me, and at last I made them see I had no money or food either. Infants were crying from all over. The big houses were disheveled and crumbling. Most of the people I passed had a listless, hollow look in their eyes. They gazed at the city, but they really didn’t see it. They didn’t want to see it; they tried to block it out. But others were livid, and their eyes were full of hate and scorn. I was scared of those people. No one ever looked like that at the convent. I had never seen anyone glaring with disgusted gleams of revenge. I shuddered and quickly passed the people like that. I stopped and asked a few women for directions. I wouldn’t speak to the men; they were too loud and rough. After walking for what seemed like all day I found Aunt Matilda’s house. I was shocked to see it just as dilapidated as everything else. I had the strange idea that her home would always be the same. There was no wooden door, just a dirty ripped sheet. I walked in very slowly. If the houses could change so much, maybe my relatives could, too.
“Hello; is anyone here? I am Catherine from the convent. Auntie, are you here? Hello?”
I walked into the kitchen, where there were pots strewn all over, but not one had anything in it. A dog barked, and I almost screamed. The little thing jumped out from behind the stove and ran at me. It made ferocious sounds and nipped my ankles. I grabbed its neck, I am afraid to say, and muffled it in a bucket until it stopped barking.
“What are you doing?” A voice from behind me sounded. I turned around, still keeping a tight hold on the dog. It was a gruff man staring at me. “That’s my dog. Let go of it. What are you trying to do, kill it?”
– From Part One, Chapter 8