So I’m beautiful – to some – what of it? Why does my beauty require that I bear children too, that I succumb to the pawing of some man who might not want it either. There’s a lot to do in this world that bears no resemblance to bearing children, raising them, adding to the surplus population. Surely there’s enough that I can’t just live my life without adding to that number, no?

My mother, father, and the priest who had leered at me weekly from the day of my first communion when his finger lingered on my lip just a little too long after putting the wafer on my tongue. Had it not been in front of everyone, I would have bitten him, but at the age of 8 I knew better than to embarrass my family that way, but I kept my eye on Father Steven ever after that. The fact that here he was in my parents’ house 15 years later abjuring me to marry and fulfill my duty to the community.

‘And how do you fulfill your duty to the community, Father?’

‘When, I’m this congregation’s spiritual leader. I speak the word of god and lead the flock.’

‘And what else does leading the flock entail?’ Yes, I know I was leading the conversation away from my parents’ focus on getting me to consider marrying Father Steven’s nephew Laurence, but I had enough reasons for not wanting to marry, to marry Laurence, and to marry into Steven’s family.

‘Cora, darling,’ my own father said, ‘we’ve belonged to this parish since you were a toddler – Father Steven is the only spiritual leader you’ve known. Surely you know what he does?’

‘I know what he says he does, but is he representative? Do they all do that? And take the fringe benefits too?’ And that was where I derailed everything.