“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, October 1, 2012

Chapter Twelve, Part One

          Elizabeth watched as Jacqueline hauled her suitcase up the attic stairs.  It thudded on each step, a bit harder than Elizabeth thought was necessary, and she had the feeling her sister was doing this on purpose.

            “You hate coming home.  Why are you here?” Elizabeth said as she followed Jacqueline into her bedroom.  She flinched as Jacqueline threw the suitcase onto the bed, rattling the box springs.

            “Yeah, well,” Jacqueline looked at the suitcase bitterly before turning to Elizabeth and flashing a smile.  “I couldn’t very well leave you to suffer alone for much longer.  And it’s only a weekend.  We’ll have Children of the Rose stuff to go to anyway.”

            Elizabeth didn’t answer, just smiled.  She knew the last thing Jacqueline had wanted to do was come home for the weekend, but she also knew that come summer Jacqueline would have to move home for three months, so she might as well get used to it now.

            “Look who has graced us with her presence,” Evalynne said as she entered Jacqueline’s room.

            “What are you doing up here?” Elizabeth snapped.

            “If I recall correctly, this is not your room, it’s Jackie’s, and I don’t see her complaining about it,” Evalynne retorted.

            “I decided to come home for the weekend for some church stuff,” Jacqueline explained.  She opened her suitcase and started pulling out clothes and hanging them in the closet.

            “Of course you only came home for church stuff.  That’s all you and Liz do anymore…stuff for this stupid church you two have gotten yourselves involved with.”  Evalynne picked up a Rose scarf that Jacqueline had placed on the bed.

            Jacqueline snatched the scarf back, smacking Evalynne’s hand in the process, and folded it carefully.  “What’s your point?”

            “I thought I made it pretty clear, but maybe I didn’t.”  Evalynne raised her voice and emphasized every word, “You and Liz spend so much time with that church and all your church friends that it’s bordering on creepy.”

            The two girls glared at their younger sister until Andrea poked her head into the bedroom as well.  “Eva, Mom wants your help with something downstairs.”

            “Oh, Evalynne, Mom wants you downstairs,” Elizabeth repeated, pushing both Andrea and Evalynne out the door.  “You don’t want to disappoint her!”

            As soon as the two girls were out the door, Elizabeth slammed it shut.  “Freaks,” she could hear Evalynne mumble through the door.  Both Elizabeth and Jacqueline were silent until they heard the attic door close and the footsteps of their younger sisters going down the stairs.

            “So your promotion is tomorrow?” Elizabeth asked, helping Jacqueline re-fold the scarves Evalynne had messed up.

            “Yeah.  I’m assuming you’re going?” Jacqueline said.

            “Definitely.  Not only because you’re my sister and I love you, but because if I don’t I think Sandra might kill me.”

            “She’s being hard on you?”

            “She’s just being strict.  She’s gotten stricter since my induction to Level Two.”

            “It’s only because she cares.  More is expected of you in Level Two.  She just wants to make sure you stay on track.”

            Elizabeth was silent for a moment, letting her sister’s logic sink in.  Finally she nodded and smiled.  “You’re right.  It’s not a big deal.”  She finished folding a scarf and began helping Jacqueline put clothes into the closet.  “How come you know about your promotion, but mine up to Level Two was a surprise?”

            “Level Two inductions are always a surprise, but none of the other ones are apparently.  I’ve heard it’s because as a Level One, going up to a Level Two, you’re still a baby Rose essentially.  All promotions are important, but getting to Level Two is most important because then you’re no longer a baby Rose.  It’s like a baptism to being a mature member of the church.”

            “Got it,” Elizabeth said, nodding.  “You want help with the rest of this unpacking?”

            Jacqueline shook her head and sat down at her desk.  “I’ll finish unpacking later.  I have some Bible passages I need to read and I didn’t get to do my prayer this afternoon because of the drive home, so I need to do that.”  She pulled out her Bible and bowed her head.  Elizabeth backed out of the room quietly, determined to give her sister as much privacy to concentrate on her prayer as possible.

            Once she got to her room, she carefully closed the door and settled herself onto the floor beside her bed.

April 16

            Jacqueline’s home for the weekend.  It’s the first time she’s been home in a while.  Once I don’t live here anymore, I’m never coming back.  This whole family is so judgmental.  Jacqueline’s got the right idea.

            Elizabeth stopped writing and stared at the wall that separated her room from Jacqueline’s.  She knew on the other side of that wall, her older sister—the sister that had loved her enough to convert her to the Children, to save her eternal soul—was deep into her prayers, making her devotion to God and the Children even stronger, purifying her soul from all the bad that had happened today.  She looked at what she had written—Jacqueline’s got the right idea.  Elizabeth sighed and closed her journal quietly, placing it carefully back onto her desk and picking up her Bible instead.  She opened it and read aloud the first passage she saw.  “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 chapter nine, verse eleven.”

            She cocked her head, as though staring at the passage from a different angle would help her understand it—because that was the problem, she couldn’t even begin to comprehend this passage.  “What?” she asked her Bible, wishing it would speak and explain what the passage meant.  Elizabeth continued to stare at this passage for several minutes, read it aloud three more times, and finally grabbed her Rose notebook off her desk and wrote the passage on one of the pages.  She then highlighted the passage written in her notebook in bright yellow, intent on asking Sandra about it later.

            With that, Elizabeth closed her Bible and bowed her head, beginning to pray silently, her eyelids scrunched tight.

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