“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 19, 2012

Chapter Ten, Part Two

           After the lunch-time fiasco on Saturday, meals had gotten tenser around the McLancy house.  Elizabeth took to staying in her room until she was yelled at to join the family.  Even then, she still refused to eat anything she deemed unacceptable.  Elizabeth and her mother frequently argued over the meals, Evalynne throwing in her share of snide remarks. 

            Becoming more annoyed with the behavior of her family, a few days after the Saturday argument, Elizabeth could be found sitting sullenly at her desk, scribbling in her journal:

April 6

            I’m so sick of this family.  They never understand where I’m coming from.  They only question all of Pastor Simon’s teachings and the word of the Bible and it’s incredibly annoying.  I wonder how people get to live in the colony.  I’d take spending every moment of the day with my church family rather than dealing with my siblings and parents at all times.

            “Liz!  Dinner!” Mom yelled up the stairs.

            Sighing, and rolling her eyes, Elizabeth shut her journal and walked downstairs as slowly as possible.  Once she finally entered the kitchen, she took her place at the table between Evalynne and Danielle.  She didn’t make eye contact with a single member of the family, but instead stared at her plate.

            “Thank you for joining us, Liz,” her father said in a forced cheerful voice.

            “Whatever,” Elizabeth mumbled.  “I’m not hungry.”

            “You’re never hungry,” Evalynne retorted.  Suddenly there was a thud and she yelled, “Ow!”  Glaring across the table at Andrea she cried, “That was so not necessary!  I don’t care what the rest of you do or do not say, but I’m not going to sugar-coat this whole thing.”  She turned to Elizabeth and said loudly, “You’re being stupid.  You and Jackie.  So knock it off!”

            Elizabeth didn’t even grace this with a retort, merely a glare.  Back before she had joined the Children, she would have had a snappy retort ready and she would have shot it at her sister most willingly.  Now, however, she knew self-control.  She now knew how wrong she had been in the past.  She was no longer tempted by the need to bring herself down to the level of outsiders.  Instead, she piled some salad onto her plate, and bowed her head to say grace.  She could feel the eyes of her family watching her, but she didn’t pay them any mind.  With her eyes still closed, and trying with all her might to focus on the words of thanks she was thinking, the interactions of her family kept interspersing themselves with her thoughts.

            God, thank you for this food I am about to consume…

            “Oh, for the love of...” Another thud. “Seriously, Andi, if you don’t knock it off right now, I swear—”

            …I am grateful for this food you have provided and ask you to please bless it, the Children, and myself…

            Another thud, but this one shook the table.  Andrea screamed, “EVA!  THAT HURT!”  Elizabeth didn’t blink an eye.

            …Please give me patience…

            “Kids, behave,” their father intervened.

            “I think it’s bruising!” cried Andrea.

            “Oh, boo-freaking-hoo, you big baby,” Evalynne mumbled.

            “Eva, that’s enough,” warned their mother.


            With this, Elizabeth finally opened her eyes and took in the scene surrounding her.  Andrea had her knee bent close to her face, rubbing and examining a spot on her shin.  Evalynne was also rubbing her own leg, but was more focused on glaring at Andrea to pay much attention to her wound.  Both parents were shaking their heads hopelessly, Gregory and Thomas were bright red with silent laughter, and Danielle had suddenly become incredibly interested in her glass of water.  It would have been a funny sight, one that Elizabeth would have laughed at back before her baptism, but now she knew better.  Now she knew how petty her family was being.  With this thought drilling into her mind, Elizabeth didn’t comment, and chose instead to take a bite of her dry salad.

            “Tasty?” Evalynne said with an evil smirk.

            “Delicious,” retorted Elizabeth, matching her sister’s smirk.

            Danielle and Andrea both rolled their eyes and shoved more chicken into their mouths.

            As Gregory and Evalynne washed the dishes after dinner, and Elizabeth had holed herself up in the attic again, the doorbell rang.  After some mumbling that Elizabeth couldn’t decipher from her attic room, she heard someone coming up the stairs.  A few seconds later, Andrea appeared in her room, rolling her eyes.

            “Liz, one of your church friends is downstairs.  She wants to talk to you right now,” she said with as little enthusiasm as possible.

            After following her younger sister downstairs, Elizabeth saw Sandra standing in the front hall. 

            “Hey, Elizabeth!” Sandra cried, embracing Elizabeth in a tight hug.

            “Hi, Sandra,” Elizabeth greeted.  “What’s up?”

            “Well…” Sandra trailed off, looking at a point behind Elizabeth’s shoulder.  Elizabeth followed her friend’s eyes, catching her entire family standing in the entrance to the family room.

            “Do you mind?!” Elizabeth cried.  Her family, however, didn’t budge.  She rolled her eyes and turned back to Sandra.  “Ignore them.”

            Sandra laughed.  “I was just wondering if you would be interested in going on a youth group trip to the mall.  Everyone’s going, it’ll be quite the event.”

            “Definitely!  Let me just grab my jacket…” Now it was Elizabeth’s turn to trail off as she watched Sandra gesture toward the scarf on her own head.  Elizabeth furrowed her eyebrows and continued, “And my scarf?  We’re wearing our scarves?”

            “Unless you’re ashamed of your affiliation?” Sandra asked pointedly.

            “Of course not!  I’ll grab my jacket and my scarf!”

            Once Elizabeth had made it back downstairs, scarf securely on her head and jacket draped over an elbow, she and Sandra started toward the door.

            “Wait just a second, Liz McLancy!” Mom cried.

            Elizabeth sighed and turned to face her parents, who were both approaching quickly.  Her siblings could still be seen peering around the corner into the hallway.

            “What?” Elizabeth snapped, staring at her parents defiantly.

            “You spend every waking moment with these kids, or talking about these kids,” her mother began, folding her arms across her chest.

            “What’s your point?”

            “I think what your mother is trying to say,” Dad said, “is that maybe you should spend tonight with your family, since lately you’ve been spending most of your time with your church friends.”

            “Don’t you have homework to do too?” Mom added.

            “If we’re going, we need to go now,” Sandra said frantically.

            “Mom, Dad, I get that you’re concerned or whatever, but I’m fine.  Really.  And I would appreciate if you would stop trying to suffocate me.  I’m almost a high school graduate.  I’ll hang out with my friends whenever I want.  I have to go.”

            “Young lady, you’re not going anywhere.  Tonight you’re spending time with your family and doing your school work.  Both of those are more important than your church friends,” her mother ordered.
            Elizabeth froze and glared at her parents with more intensity than ever.  “I can’t believe what I’m hearing!  Pastor Simon said you guys would have these reactions!  Sorry to burst your bubble, but my eternal soul, and thus my church and church family, is far more important.  Maybe someday you’ll both understand that.  And now I’m leaving.  Good-bye.”  With that, she turned on her heel and followed Sandra out the front door, leaving her parents standing flabbergasted in the hallway.

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