It was only a few months after Christina renounced God that she went off to college. The first day there she told everyone to call her Cassandra. She looked in her full-length mirror and repeated, “Cassandra, Cassandra,” imagining a girl saint sadly turning her scarred back.

The first couple of times that her mother called, she asked for Christina and was told by Cassandra’s suitemates that she had the wrong number. Finally Cassandra herself picked up the phone, and her mother asked why everyone was so confused. Cassandra laughed and explained that, for whatever reason, everyone had started calling her Cassandra. She asked, “It is a pretty name, though, don’t you think, Mother?”

Her mother said, “It is a nice enough name, but, sweetie, you know there really aren’t any saints named Cassandra.”

She laughed again, “It’s just a nickname, Mother.”

When she was very young, her mother had explained her name to her. “You were named after one of the youngest saints,” her mother told her as she brushed her hair. “A martyr. She believed in God, but her father was a strict Roman nobleman and forbade her from praying under pain of death. When she persisted, her father had her whipped until she died. She was twelve or so. The Church called her Christina, after Christ himself. And so, because you were named in her honor, Saint Christina will watch over you very carefully whenever I’m not there.”

“And God does that too?” she asked. She pictured a large face darkening the sky.

“God too.”

People on couch
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