“I just do, okay?” Jackie said, getting defensive. She turned to Liz, who had stood by, watching this exchange with wide eyes. “Help me take my stuff upstairs?”
Liz nodded and grabbed one of Jackie’s bags, following her up to the attic that the two of them shared. As soon as she’d dropped the bag on her older sister’s bed, she perched on it as well.
“So…you’ve changed,” Liz said once Jackie was bustling around the bedroom, putting her clothes away.
Jackie rolled her eyes. “Oh, god, Elizabeth, not you too.”
Liz raised an eyebrow. The only person who called her Elizabeth was their parents, and that was only when she’d done something to royally piss them off. “Not me too?”
“Dad was unbearable the whole drive home. I tried to explain to him about this church I joined and then he got all—”
“Wait. You joined a church?” Liz was seriously shocked by this. The entire family might have been Christmas-Easter Christians, but Jackie hardly even fell into that category. She’d never been all that interested in religion, even more than everyone else.
The expression on Jackie’s face changed immediately. All of a sudden her eyes lit up and her face broke into a grin. She looked…excited.
“It’s called the Children of the Rose,” she said, pulling a thick pamphlet out of her backpack and handing it to Liz. “It was founded by Pastor Simon. He has the most amazing story of being told by God of the right way to worship, to live. God showed him the light and now he has been charged to bring others to the light. He’s so wonderful to listen to. He actually makes people excited about religion and makes us feel like we’re part of something special.”
Liz looked down at the pamphlet in her hands. The Children of the Rose was written in fancy calligraphy along the top of the page. A giant red rose took up most of the rest of the cover, with a picture set in the middle of who she assumed was Pastor Simon holding a cross. He was a middle-aged man, with a benevolent smile, and he certainly looked kind enough.
“It’s based here in Ohio,” Jackie continued, and Liz looked up at her sister again. “There are two church colonies now. One up where Drighton is and one here in this area too, but one is being established on the east side of the state too. Pastor Simon travels between the church colonies to preach. A lot of the converted are older high schoolers and college students.”
Liz beamed. It was nice to see her sister this excited about something. A religion that made Jackie this passionate couldn’t be bad; Jackie was always so logical, and it wasn’t like her to get this worked up about something.
Before Liz could even say anything, Jackie started talking again. “There’s a whole group of about fifty or so Drighton students that are Roses and all my friends up at school, really, come from that group. There are about ten I hang out with regularly—five boys and five girls, counting me.” Her eyes widened. “You know, Jennifer, Heather, Scott, and Peter are all from this area, so when they’re home they all attend this colony. You should come to church with me on Sunday, meet my friends, see the church! I think you’d really like it!”
Liz shrugged. “Sure, I’ll go with you,” she answered. Jackie squealed and hugged Liz.
“You won’t regret it! I can’t wait to share this with you, Elizabeth!”Liz smiled into her sister’s shoulder and hugged her back. She didn’t know what to think, but she did know that she was curious about this church that had caught her older sister’s attention. Churches couldn’t be bad, after all. What could one visit hurt?