There was a girl I remember from St. Jerome’s. Her name was Rebecca Wolf and she arrived there with her younger sister. They were beautiful. When I saw them for the first time they were getting out of the car that had brought them to the school. I was raking grass, but I stopped what I was doing to watch them. Rebecca saw me looking and gave me a little smile.

Rebecca’s skin was clear and brown, and her eyes shone. She was tall for her age and slender, not gawky like other girls her age. I’d see her in chapel or walking through the hallways. I’d try to get her to notice me, but she almost never did.

Rebecca’s sister, Katherine, was small and timid. She was scared of the nuns, but when she tried to run to her older sister for comfort, they strapped her and locked her in a broom closet for hours at a time. Then they started putting her in the Iron Sister.

The last time they brought Katherine up from the basement, she was broken. She began to wet her bed at night, and the nuns beat her for that. They would haul her into the aisle and strap her. When Rebecca tried to protect her sister she earned a trip to the basement herself. And while she was down there, Katherine died. No one knew what happened. She went to bed and the other girls found her dead in the morning.

They didn’t bring Rebecca up from the Iron Sister for four days. When they told her she just looked at the faces of the nuns and didn’t react. Then she turned slowly, walked to the front entrance of the school, and stood at the top of the stairs and screamed. She tore at her hair and face. No one moved to help her, for fear of retaliation from the nuns. But her wailing and sobbing cut all of us kids to the quick.

I was in the barn alone the next evening, practicing my shooting on the linoleum. I was so intent on the mechanics of my wrist shot that I missed the first few notes. But those that followed made me raise my head and listen. A voice shimmered through the evening air, and I walked to the door of the barn to see where it came from. Rebecca was standing in the rough grass of the Indian yard, her palms raised to the sky, and she was singing in Ojibway. It was a mourning song. I could tell that from the feel of the syllables. Her agony was so pure, I felt my heart ripped out of me. I stood crying in that doorway, offering what prayers I could for the spirit of her sister.

I never saw the knife. Not until the song was over. She knelt on the fresh-turned earth of her sister’s grave and slipped the knife from her coat and plunged the knife into her belly. As I ran to her, a whole crowd of kids burst from the school. She was dead when we got there, blood everywhere. We stood in a circle gazing down at her. No one said a word. No one could. But when someone began to sing the song Rebecca had sung we all joined in, the outlaw Ojibway rising into the air. When the song was over, we filed back into the school, past the nuns and the priests who’d gathered at the bottom of the stairs. None of us looked at them.