“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, January 16, 2013

Chapter Eighteen, Part One

          Elizabeth had stopped talking.  She discovered it was easier to stop talking to Sandra about anything outside of the Children than to watch her words.  She knew if she ever once mentioned Derek that would be the end of it.  Sandra would get angry with her and never trust her again.  She knew that simply mentioning Derek wouldn’t get her expelled, but she knew if Sandra heard her mention him, she might as well be.

            “How are things going?” Sandra asked over the phone one day.  Elizabeth had only reluctantly taken the call.  She’d hoped that Sandra only wanted to pray with her, not chit-chat.  Unfortunately, Sandra wanted to do the latter.

            “Fine,” Elizabeth answered, staring at her Bible.

            “What’s wrong?”


            Elizabeth could hear Sandra sigh in exasperation.  Elizabeth, whatever is wrong with you, just tell me.”

            “Nothing’s wrong with me.”

            “You can tell me anything, you know.”

            No, that’s not true.  “I said I’m fine.”

            “You’ve barely talked to me ever since he was expelled.”

            “I said I’m fine,” Elizabeth repeated.

            “Fine,” Sandra cried.  “Fine!  If you don’t want to talk to me, you’re talking to Pastor Simon.  Tomorrow afternoon.  I’ve already set up the meeting and you’re going.”

            Elizabeth didn’t fight.  She had learned from Derek, even in those few brief conversations she’d had with him, that it wasn’t worth the fight.  The fight was going to get you in more trouble.  So she said yes.

            The next day, she let Sandra drive her to the church, let her lead her down the halls to what was Pastor Simon’s office at this colony.  She let Sandra set her down on a chair outside the office and watched as Sandra went inside to talk to Pastor Simon first.  As soon as she was alone, she adjusted the scarf on her head, opened her journal, which she had tucked into her bag before leaving, and wrote:

June 25

            I’m waiting outside Pastor Simon’s office.  Sandra is inside talking to him…I don’t know what about.  Probably about how I’ve stopped talking since Derek was expelled.  I don’t know what awaits me on the other side of that door.  I don’t know if I’ll be yelled at or punished or be assigned a million hours of prayer for just this week.  I wish I knew, but I don’t.

            Elizabeth heard footsteps on the other side of the wall coming toward the office door.  Frantically, she shoved the journal back into her bag just in time.  The second it was in the bag, the door opened and both Pastor Simon and Sandra emerged.  Sandra gave Elizabeth a kind pat on the shoulder and then left.

            Elizabeth?” Pastor Simon said.  “Will you please come in here?”

            Elizabeth stood and followed Pastor Simon into his office.  He walked behind the desk and sat down before gesturing to a chair that Elizabeth was standing next to.

            “Now, Elizabeth, Sandra is concerned about your behavior lately,” he began.  Elizabeth merely stared at her hands.  “She’s concerned that you have an unhealthy connection to Derek Anderson.”

            Her hands started shaking, even though she willed them to stop.

            “You have feelings for Derek Anderson, don’t you?” he asked.

            Finally, Elizabeth looked up into Pastor Simon’s eyes.  “No.  I’ve been told to not think about him.  So I don’t.”

            He studied her face for a moment before saying, “You’re lying, aren’t you?”

            Elizabeth turned her eyes back to her lap and didn’t answer.

            “You know it’s a sin to lie,” he prompted.

            “Fine, I have feelings for him.  But I’m trying to stifle them, I promise.”

            A silence descended upon the room.  It wasn’t a normal silence, however.  It was a tense, awkward silence—the kind that you will to come to a swift end, just to ease your suffering.  Elizabeth didn’t dare shift in her chair, no matter how much the silence weighed her down.  She could feel Pastor Simon staring at her intently, as though he was trying to read her mind.

            “That’s a terrible sin,” Pastor Simon finally said, breaking the silence.  “Sandra commanded you to put him out of your mind, and you have disobeyed your Rose Angel.  In this way you have also disobeyed me and God.”

            “I’m sorry,” Elizabeth whispered.
            Pastor Simon shook his head.  “I’m afraid that’s not going to be enough this time.  You’re a Level Three now, Elizabeth, you are held to more responsibility than you were before.  Sinning is a bigger deal than it was before.  It can’t just be rectified by an ‘I’m sorry’ and a few extra hours of prayer.”

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