Liz slumped into Sandra’s car, followed closely by Morgan. Delia and Sandra, as usual, took the front seats. Rubbing her eyes, Liz glanced at the clock. Two in the morning. The group had just been released from another seminar. This seminar was about the proper dress of the Children, led by Pastor Jeffrey because Pastor Simon was at another colony this week.
“We are a humble group,” Pastor Jeffrey had explained, “thus we dress humbly. People should be attracted to our path to God because of what we portray from our hearts, not what we portray from our clothing. Women wear long skirts to keep the men from the temptation of their bodies. Remember the words of Matthew, chapter five, verse twenty-eight: ‘But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.’”
The older members had nodded their agreement, like they always did during seminars. The newly baptized members had merely stared blankly ahead of them, nodding slightly with the others.
As Sandra drove down the road, Delia turned around to face the other two. “How’s the college search going?”
“Huh?” Liz responded, suddenly realizing someone was talking to her. Morgan merely snorted—she had fallen asleep. Liz nudged her sharply in the side and she snapped awake.
“The college search. You two are getting to that point in your year when you should be applying to schools.”
“Oh,” Liz mumbled, exchanging a glance with Morgan. “I guess I really haven’t had time to think about it.” She thought about the small pile of college applications sitting on her desk. She had barely had time to even glance at them, let alone fill them out.
“Me either,” Morgan agreed, rubbing her eyes. “Seminar lasts so late and then with praying and everything…”
“It’s all worth it, right?” Delia asked.
“Of course,” Morgan answered, almost robotically.
“I know you two want to get out of town, away from your families. You should go to Drighton,” Sandra said. “There’s a colony up there. It’s the perfect place for you to go. We’ll miss you down here at this colony, but Delia and I were happy with living at home, going to school here, and we understand that you two want to get away. You should go away to another colony, if that’s really what you want to do. The Drighton colony and the students that go there will keep you two safe. They’ll keep you on the right path and keep you from temptation.”
By this time, the car had pulled into Liz’s driveway.
“Think about it,
,” Sandra said sternly. “You don’t
want to un-do all the purification you’ve already gone through, do you?” Elizabeth
“No, I don’t,” Liz answered.
“That’s what I thought.” With a smile, Sandra watched Liz leave the car and said, “Good night.”
The phone was ringing. Incessantly. Liz opened her eyes and felt an uncomfortable twinge in her neck. She sat up and looked down at her desk, suddenly realizing that she had been sleeping on her school notebook. Her chemistry homework, which she had been working on before falling asleep, was only half completed. She looked at the clock on her desk. It was only four-thirty in the afternoon. She had been home from school for an hour and a half; most of that time had been spent in prayer, just as Pastor Simon had assigned the newly baptized.
“Prayer is your most important vehicle on the path to God. It keeps you focused. It keeps you purpose-driven. In this world, this is all you have to keep you away from temptation, especially at such a young point in your Rose life. In order to keep you focused, you must pray at least five hours a day,” he had said.
She rubbed her eyes and reached for the phone.
“Hello?” Liz mumbled into it.
, are you okay?” the voice on the
other end asked. Elizabeth
“Jackie, is that you?” asked Liz.
“Yeah, it’s me. Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. I just woke up.” Liz rubbed her eyes again. “We got back from seminar late and then after school I came home to pray and I fell asleep while I was doing homework.”
“It’s good that you’re praying. Prayer is more important than school work anyway.”
“I’m glad you approve. Any particular reason you’re calling?”
“Just to say hi and check in with how your Rose lessons are going and everything.” There was a pause. “Sandra called me a couple days ago and told me that you and Morgan are looking at Drighton.”
“Well, I’m thinking about it.”
“You should come here. There’s a church colony, plenty of other Rose members, and all of that will help you. Roses need to be around other Roses. It’s the way it works. Pastor Simon always tells us that if we stick together we’ll keep each other from temptation.”
“I’m thinking about it.”
“Good. That’s all I really wanted to say. Come to Drighton.”
After saying their farewells, Liz hung up the phone and looked regretfully at her half-done homework. Instead of returning to her assignment, however, she pulled out her journal.
Everyone wants me to go to Drighton. Sandra knows that I want to escape this town and this family. Delia knows. Jackie knows. And I guess it makes sense. There is a colony there. And I enjoy spending time with other Children. They are all so helpful and purpose-driven. I need to keep away from temptation. And Jackie’s right…Pastor Simon does tell us that we need to stick together to stay away from the evil of the outsiders. I just don’t know what to do. Jackie, Sandra, and Delia want me to go to Drighton. But I haven’t given it that much thought lately.
Liz looked down at what she had just written. She was so confused.