“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race [is] not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

~*~Ecclesiastes 9:11~*~

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chapter Eleven, Part Two

           Elizabeth picked at a stray strand of hair that had escaped from her French braid.  She was sitting on a bench in the park, waiting for Morgan to show up.  People looked at her strangely—she was wearing a long-sleeved denim dress and boots and most people were walking around the park in tshirts.  She realized that people probably thought she looked a little strange, but she didn’t care.  She didn’t even watch the people walking by, merely watched her finger twisting the stray hair into a spiral.

            “Hey, Elizabeth.”

            Elizabeth finally pulled her attention away from the hair, which was now thoroughly twisted around her finger, and looked up at the newcomer.

            “Hey, Morgan,” she said with a smile, disentangling her hair.  “What’s up?  Why did you want to meet here?”

            “I’d normally talk to Delia, but I knew I’d get yelled at,” Morgan offered.

            “What is it?” Elizabeth prompted, growing more worried.

            “It’s just these rules…and attending Drighton next year…and I’ve been so hungry for the last few days since Sunday…” Morgan trailed off.

            “It’s only Thursday.  It’s bound to get easier,” Elizabeth said, then paused.  “The smaller portions and fasting, I mean,” she clarified.

            “I know.  It’s just…am I…are we…doing the right thing?  Joining the Children?  Was that a bad choice?”

            Elizabeth looked at Morgan and then stared off into the park.  An eternity of silence passed between them before Elizabeth sighed and admitted, “I wonder sometimes too.  My mom and I barely fought before I joined the church.  Jacqueline never comes home anymore because she can’t deal with our parents and siblings.   None of us kids have really gotten along before, but it’s just gotten worse since I joined the Children.”  And I’m worried about Derek, she thought, but she kept that to herself.  The few times she’d seen him from a distance lately, he hadn’t looked right—he’d looked frightened.

            “My parents and I fight all the time now too.  And I know they’re outsiders and all that, like Pastor Simon says, but it just feels weird not getting along with them.  We used to be so close.”  Morgan looked at her hands, and Elizabeth could swear that she saw tears glistening in her friend’s eyes.

            Elizabeth reached over and squeezed Morgan’s hand.  “But think of eternity.  Is it worth it to go through all this hell now to be guaranteed eternal glory in Heaven after we die?”

            Morgan turned her sad gaze to Elizabeth.  “I guess that makes sense.  If it was easy, everyone could get into Heaven, right?”

            Elizabeth nodded, still trying to convince herself.  “If it was easy, everyone could get into Heaven,” she repeated.

            “I think I like the Children, though,” Morgan offered.  “They’re nice…they make me feel special.  And the more I read about Drighton University, the more excited I am to go there.  It’s an amazing school, regardless of its proximity to the Children.  And, well, I mean, some of my best friends are in the Children.  I consider you my best friend…and if it weren’t for the church, we never would have met.”

            “Like fate,” Elizabeth agreed.

            “Like fate.”

            “I really love it too.  Most of the time, Sandra and I get along great.  And I’ve only grown closer to Jacqueline.”

            “So I guess this is a good thing.”

            “The good outnumbers the bad.  It’s good,” Elizabeth reasoned.  “So all this stuff we’re being put through…”

            “It’s not a big deal,” Morgan finished.

            “It’s not a big deal…we both love it.”

            The two girls looked at each other for a moment, before they each pulled out their Bibles to do some studying.  Sandra and Delia will be proud, Elizabeth thought as she flipped through the pages to her bookmark.  But she couldn’t get rid of the nagging feeling in her stomach that maybe some of the things her family was saying was right after all.

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