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.
could hear Sandra sigh in
exasperation. “ Elizabeth , whatever is wrong with you, just
tell me.” 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. 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
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. Elizabeth
turned her eyes back to her lap and
didn’t answer. Elizabeth
answered, staring at her Bible. Elizabeth
“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,”
“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.”
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:
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.
?” Pastor Simon said. “Will you please come in here?” Elizabeth
“Now, Elizabeth, Sandra is concerned about your behavior lately,” he began.
merely stared at
her hands. “She’s concerned that you
have an unhealthy connection to Derek Anderson.” Elizabeth
Her hands started shaking, even though she willed them to stop.
“You have feelings for Derek Anderson, don’t you?” he asked.
looked up into Pastor Simon’s
eyes. “No. I’ve been told to not think about him. So I don’t.” Elizabeth
He studied her face for a moment before saying, “You’re lying, aren’t you?”
“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.
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. Elizabeth
“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,”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.”