“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~*~

Monday, September 17, 2012

Chapter Ten, Part One

           The sun glared through the windows, but it didn’t faze Elizabeth, who was asleep at her desk…again.  In fact, she didn’t even open her eyes until she felt a sharp prod in her side, then on her shoulder, and finally in her ear.  Batting away the intruder, she finally looked up to see Evalynne and Thomas standing over her.

            “Seriously?” Evalynne said, raising her eyebrows. “I know it’s Saturday and all, but it’s almost one in the afternoon.  You never sleep this late unless you’re sick.”

            “Mom wanted us to check on you,” Thomas explained.

            Elizabeth rubbed her ear and glared at her siblings.  “So the way you checked was to put your finger in my ear?”

            Evalynne shrugged and rolled her eyes.  “It seemed like a good idea at the time.  And anyway, it got your attention, didn’t it?”

            Elizabeth glared again before leaning back in her chair and staring at her desk.  The entire desk was covered with her Rose belongings—her old visitor’s and her Level One scarves sat folded in a corner, her Rose notebook opened in the opposite corner, various papers with Bible assignments and announcements from church spread out over the surface, and her Rose Bible sat open and dead center.  The revealed pages of the Bible were slightly wrinkled; Elizabeth had fallen asleep on top of it and had been using it as a pillow all night.  She noticed Evalynne and Thomas looking at her desk as well and hurriedly closed her Bible, slipping a bookmark into the pages before it shut.

            “Is that why you fell asleep?” asked Thomas, pointing at the Bible.

            “No,” Elizabeth snapped.  “I fell asleep because I was tired, not because I was reading the Bible.”

            “It’s not like there’s anything wrong with it,” Evalynne shrugged. “I mean, it’s very boring, so it’s understandable that you fell asleep reading it.”

            “It’s not boring!  It’s the word of God and Pastor Simon, it’s important, and it’s not boring!  I was just tired after doing my reading, because I was out late at church, and I didn’t make it to my bed.  Lay off!”  Elizabeth cried, standing up in a huff.

            “Whatever.  The point is that Mom wanted us to make sure you aren’t sick.”  Evalynne leaned so she was practically nose-to-nose with her sister.  “You’re not sick, are you?”

            Elizabeth pushed Evalynne away from her and intensified her glare.  “No, I’m not sick.  Now go away.  Both of you.  Just leave me alone.”

            Thomas, who had never taken direction from anyone else other than Gregory, high-tailed it out of the room immediately.  Evalynne, however, felt more stubborn and put her hands on her hips.

            “You know, I’ve always thought you were weird.  But over the last couple months you and Jackie have just been tons weirder than usual.”

            “Go away.”  Elizabeth turned from her sister and sat down on the bed.

            “I’ve never listened to you and I’m not going to start now.  I don’t know what’s going on with you, but it’s just weird.  There’s something wrong with this stupid church you spend all your time at.  There’s something wrong with your new friends and there’s something wrong that you and Mom are barely talking anymore.  I don’t know what the problem is, but I do know I hate having to be the mature one in this family, so get a freaking clue.”  Elizabeth still didn’t make eye contact with Evalynne, even when her sister finished this speech by throwing a large envelope at her head.  “Oh, and by the way, you got mail, so stop moping around.”

            With that, Evalynne stormed out of the room.  Elizabeth waited until she heard the attic door slam and her sister stomp down the stairs as loud as possible before she picked up the envelope that had just been hurled at her head.  The return address was stamped from Drighton Admissions.  She felt her heart beat faster as she ripped open the seal.

Dear Miss Elizabeth McLancy,

            I am pleased to inform you that you have been accepted to Drighton University as a freshman theology major for the upcoming fall quarter.

            It took Elizabeth reading this sentence twice before the news sunk in—she had gotten into college.  She had gotten into the college that the Children of the Rose, Pastor Simon, Jacqueline, and all the rest of them had wanted her to attend.  She had finally accomplished something that they would all be pleased about.  She couldn’t disappoint them this time.  And on top of this, she would also be going to college to study the Bible and God—surely the Children couldn’t object to that choice.  Sighing in relief, Elizabeth leaned back against her pillows and stared at the ceiling.

            Thinking for a moment, she then reached for the phone, quickly dialing Sandra’s phone number.

            “Hello?” the voice at the other end of the line answered.

            “Hi, is Sandra there?” Elizabeth asked.

            The voice paused for a moment and Elizabeth was sure she could feel the tension through the phone.  “Just a second.  I’ll get her.”  A clunk gave Elizabeth the impression that the phone had been set down hard on a table.  SANDY!”

            A few seconds of silence and then, “Hello?”

            “Sandra?” Elizabeth said.  “It’s Elizabeth.”

            “Oh, hey, Elizabeth!” Sandra cried.  “Sorry about my mom, by the way.  She’s a bitter person.”

            “It’s no problem.  My mom is the same way lately.  Anyway, I wanted to tell you that I have exciting news.”

            “Really?  What?”

            “I got into Drighton University.  The acceptance letter came today.”

            Sandra gasped and then squealed.  “Oh, Elizabeth!  That’s fantastic!  Congratulations!”

            Elizabeth smiled, glad to finally have pleased her Rose Angel.  “Thanks.  I’m relieved, to tell you the truth.  Drighton was the only college I applied to.”

            “Just think how much you will grow in your journey with the Roses at Drighton!”

            The smile on Elizabeth’s face faltered for a moment.  “Yeah.  Great.  Oh, and I’m going to be a theology major.”

            “I think that’s an excellent choice in major.  That way you can see how wrong everyone else actually is in their beliefs on how to worship God and translate the Bible.”


            “Have you told Jacqueline yet?”

            Elizabeth’s smile dropped even further.  “No, not yet.  You were the first I called.  Should I have called her first?”

            “It’s up to you really,” Sandra’s voice was suddenly more serious than it had been at the beginning of the conversation, “but it says something about your faith in the Children that you called your Rose Angel before you called your own sister.”

            Silently, Elizabeth gave another sigh of relief.  Hoping to please Sandra more, she added, “I haven’t told my family yet either.”

            “That’s very telling, Elizabeth!  I’m proud of you.  It’s very clear from your actions that you’re placing the Children high on your list of priorities, which is very impressive at this stage in your journey.”

            The smile began returning to Elizabeth’s face.  “Your opinion of me means a lot,” she admitted.  “It means a lot to me that you think I’m doing well in the Children.”

            “I think you’re doing very well.  I just think sometimes you think you’re not doing well, which just isn’t true.”

            Even though she knew Sandra couldn’t see her through the phone, Elizabeth nodded slightly.

            After a few moments’ silence, Sandra spoke up again.  “Anyway, I should go.  I’ll see you at church tomorrow morning.  Congratulations again, Elizabeth!  You’re doing the Children proud, I know that.”

            “Thanks, Sandra.  I’ll see you later.”

            “Liz!” Evalynne called from somewhere downstairs.  Her voice echoed off the walls into the attic.

            “I’m coming!  Hold your horses!” Elizabeth yelled back.  She pulled her hair back into a ponytail and changed into a long skirt and long-sleeved black shirt before running downstairs.

            Just as she entered the kitchen, Evalynne screamed again, “LIZ!”

            “Shut up!” Elizabeth cried, rubbing her ear. “I’m right here, you psycho!”

            “Eat some lunch,” her mom ordered, setting a plate down in front of an empty chair at the kitchen table.

            Elizabeth took a deep breath.  It was now or never.  “I got accepted into Drighton.”

            Mom barely blinked an eye before turning and facing Elizabeth with a concerned look on her face.  “Do you think that’s the best idea?”

            “Yes, I do.  I can be closer to Jacqueline and closer to the Children of the Rose.”

            “Again, do you think that’s the best idea?”  Elizabeth squared her shoulders, but didn’t answer her mother.  The tense silence continued for a few seconds, before her mother added, “Your hair is out of hand.  Why don’t you get it cut?”

            “I’m not getting my hair cut.  Pastor Simon says God told him that women should revert to the ways of dress that existed during the Biblical times.  That means wearing modest clothes, showing little skin, covering our heads, and keeping our hair long.”  Elizabeth sat down in the chair and took the bread off the top of the sandwich, looking inside.  She found a couple slices of bologna and a piece of cheddar cheese staring back at her.  “I can’t eat this,” she said simply, putting the bread back on the sandwich.

            “Why not?  You love bologna and cheese sandwiches.  You have since you were five.  What’s wrong with it?” Mom asked.

            “It’s bologna and cheese,” Elizabeth said, staring directly into the eyes of her mother.  “Like all the other Roses, I’m a vegan.  Bologna and cheese both come from animals.  I can’t eat it.”

            “Jesus, Liz, just break the stupid rules!” Evalynne cried.

            Elizabeth shot a glare at her sister and said sternly, “I can’t break the rules.  That would be sinning.  I don’t know about you, but I would prefer to go to Heaven, thanks.”  She looked with disgust at the sandwich and stormed out of the room.  “I’m not hungry,” she called back.

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