“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, January 28, 2013

Chapter Twenty, Part One

            The girls spent the night in one of the spare church rooms with their Rose Angels.  Just as the sun was beginning to come up, the ceiling lights were turned on.  Every Rose Angel was already awake.  Sandra helped Elizabeth to her feet and handed her a large bag.

            “Where are we going?” Elizabeth asked as she rubbed her eyes and adjusted her scarf.

            “To your house,” Sandra said.  She grabbed Elizabeth’s hand and led her out the door and toward the parking lot.

            “My house?  It’s, what, six in the morning?”

            “Four in the morning,” corrected Sandra.

            “No one’s going to be up at four in the morning.”

            “That’s kind of the point.  We want to make this as smooth and free from temptation as possible for all of you.  Thus, right now, while your outside family is still asleep, you’re going to go in, pack your things, and come back to the church for worship.”

            “Um…okay,” Elizabeth mumbled.  The more Elizabeth thought about it, the more sense it made.  The last thing she would want to do right as she was packing up her things to move to the colony into the home of some man who was almost twice her age was encounter her family—except Jacqueline.  She would love to get to see Jacqueline.  But she’d see her at worship this morning and all would be right with the world again.  She looked around the parking lot.  The other Rose Angels were also guiding their charges to their respective cars, whispering instructions to them.  Every betrothed girl looked as tired as Elizabeth felt—they were rubbing their eyes, trying to adjust them to the slowly rising sun.  She noticed some of them bore bruises on their arms or faces, just like she did.  She had noticed the bruises on her own skin last night, just as she was settling down for a much desired sleep.  They weren’t too dark, but she saw them on her forearms where Benjamin had grabbed her earlier in the day.  It was the first time she’d ever been intentionally injured by a man, and she was still in shock from it, still denying that he had meant to hurt her.

            Sandra guided her into the car and, once she was in the car as well, started driving out of the parking lot and toward Elizabeth’s house.  As soon as they parked out front and Elizabeth took in all the dark windows, she felt a tear slide down her cheek.  Sandra noticed, and grabbed her hand, squeezing it kindly.  Elizabeth flinched—it still hurt from when Benjamin had held her hands during their first prayer—but she didn’t pull away.

            “I know this is going to be hard for you, Elizabeth,” Sandra said.  Elizabeth nodded and wiped the tear from her face.

            “Why didn’t Jacqueline have to move to the colony?” Elizabeth whispered, staring up at the attic window that looked into her own bedroom.

            “Because she has not had the blessing of betrothal yet.  If and when Pastor Simon or Heather thinks she is ready for this important step in her journey, then she will.  But Pastor Simon and I both recognized that you were crying out for this blessing—your temptation with Derek Anderson proved that.  God was trying to show us that.  Your journey needs to continue away from the sins of your outsider family.  Your faith is slightly weaker than Jacqueline’s and she does not need this guidance yet nor is she ready for the responsibility.  You need this higher guidance and I believe you are ready for the responsibility of being a wife within the Children.”

            “So…because I’m weak, I’ve been blessed?” Elizabeth mumbled, still staring at her attic window.

            “That’s not what I meant and you know it.  God has deemed that your journey continue away from the outside world.  He’s making it easier for you.  It’s an honor.”  Sandra looked at Elizabeth for acknowledgement, but Elizabeth simply continued staring.  Sighing, desperate to get her point across, Sandra recited, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?  And what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial?  Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?  For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.  Second Corinthians, chapter six, verses fourteen through seventeen.”

            Elizabeth nodded, picked up the large bag Sandra had given her, and left the car.  The walk up to the front door seemed to take an eternity, the click of the key in the lock felt as loud as a sonic boom, and Elizabeth prayed silently that her family wouldn’t wake up.  She prayed that they would all stay sound asleep in their beds, dreaming of whatever untroubled things they were dreaming of.  She prayed that they would stay asleep until she left, that they would find the note that she would leave, that they would all just move on with their lives and forget about her.  It would be easier if they just forgot about her, she decided.  If they forgot about her then she could forget about them.  She could move in with Benjamin and do his bidding and try her best to avoid more bruises.  She could have his babies and raise them in the Children and keep him happy.  She could see Jacqueline, Morgan, Sandra, Delia, and Aimee at worship services and they would all see how devoted she was to Benjamin.  It wouldn’t matter anymore.  She could make her own family and just forget that she was once a McLancy, one of seven kids, lost in the chaos.  She would be a Karlisle, a Rose, a wife and mother in the Children.  This is my life now, she thought as she tip-toed up the stairs and into her bedroom.

            Elizabeth set the bag down on her bed and opened it.  She walked to her closet and pulled out any and all clothes that were appropriate for church worship and living in the colony, shoved them into the bag.  She did the same with the clothes in her dresser.  She grabbed two pairs of shoes, her old scarves, her nightgown, and her bathrobe.  Her journal, notebook, and Bible were already at the church, in the bag she had brought the day before.  She left all of her pictures, her books, her calendar, anything that set her apart from anyone else in the colony.  She was starting a new life—she didn’t need the memories of her old life following her around.  She then pulled out an old notebook and ripped a couple pages out of the back.  Sitting down on her bed, she wrote out two notes.  The first one to Jacqueline:



            I’m moving to the colony today.  I’m assuming you know what that means, and you probably already know what’s happening later today, but I’ll explain it when I see you at worship this morning in case you don’t.  See you in a few hours.




            When she was finished with this note, she picked up the second piece of paper and wrote:


Mom, Dad, Gregory, Evalynne, Danielle, Andrea, and Thomas,

            I’ve moved to the church colony.  Any belongings left in my room are yours to do with as you wish.  I’ve taken with me everything that I need.  Please don’t come looking for me and please just try to forget about me.  I’ve moved on with my life, it’s time you move on with your own.


PS.  I needed to use my key to lock the front door again, but I’ve hidden it under the flowerpot on the front porch.  I have no need for it anymore.


            She read over both notes twice before she picked up her bag, took one last look around, and left the room.  She stuck the first note under Jacqueline’s bedroom door, hoping she would see it when she woke up for worship.  The other note she carried with her down the stairs and into the entrance hallway, where she taped it to the end of the banister.  Elizabeth looked around the entranceway for another few seconds before she sighed, opened the door, and stepped outside, where she locked the front door again and then hid the key where she had promised she would.  As she walked down the driveway to Sandra’s car and got in, she didn’t look back.  Not once.

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