“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, February 25, 2013

Chapter Twenty-One, Part Two

          There was chaos at the front gate as the two wives approached.  The men who were on duty to keep it shut off to outsiders were actively arguing with whoever was on the other side.  Elizabeth pulled the gate open and stepped outside toward the noise.  Facing her were people she had not seen for three weeks, not since before she had gotten married to Benjamin.

            “Mom?  Dad?” she asked and then also passed a glance over all five of her outsider siblings.  “What are you all doing here?”

            They all stopped arguing with the men and looked at her in shock.  She knew they were staring at her black eye, but she didn’t shy away from them.  “What are you all doing here?” she repeated louder.

            “You can’t just disappear!” her mother cried.  “Jackie said you had gotten married and that’s why you moved…here.”

            “She said that?” Elizabeth asked.  Her siblings were still staring at her.  She still couldn’t believe they had come here.

            “So it’s not true?”  Evalynne asked.  “You didn’t get married?”

            “Of course it’s true.  I just can’t believe she told you that.”

            “You got married?!” her father cried and began looking around frantically, as though he was trying to find the pig who had married his daughter without his consent.

            “Yes, I got married.  I’m no longer Elizabeth McLancy.  I’m Elizabeth Karlisle.”  Elizabeth waved her hand to dismiss this fact.  “Why would Jacqueline tell you that?”

            “It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure,” Gregory admitted.

            “She didn’t want to tell us,” Danielle added.

            “I guess she just got sick of us all asking what had happened to you,” Andrea continued.

            “Why would you get married?” her mom asked, working herself up into a decent panic.

            “Because Pastor Simon said I had to,” Elizabeth explained, crossing her arms over her chest and looking at the ground.  “It’s an honor, a blessing.  My marriage to Benjamin will help me on my journey to Heaven and once I start bearing children, then they will be blessed beyond all outsiders for having been born into the colony to two devoted members.”

            “Are you in love with this man?” her mother continued.

            “Love isn’t a factor.  It’s up to Pastor Simon, my Rose Angel, and the future husband who I get married to.  I was betrothed to Benjamin.  It doesn’t matter if we are in love or not.  I must obey him and fulfill my wifely duties.  I made a vow to Benjamin.  Nothing else matters,” Elizabeth said, still staring at the ground, determined to not make eye contact with her former family.

            “Did this…Benjamin…do this to you?” her father growled, motioning toward her injury.

            “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.  Ephesians, chapter five, verses twenty-two and twenty-three,” she recited.  She could feel her siblings rolling their eyes.  “If I don’t obey Benjamin, I deserve whatever punishment he chooses to deliver.  It’s part of my growth in the church and as a wife.  I cannot back away from adversity.  I made a vow.”

            Elizabeth…” her mother said and reached a hand out toward her.  Elizabeth looked up at last and backed away toward the men still standing behind her.

            “Please, go home.  I cannot come with you.  That is no longer my home.  This is my home, this is where I belong.  My life is now to Benjamin and the Children of the Rose completely.  Please…please…just go,” she said.  With that, she turned back toward the gate and walked through it.  Not once did she look back to see if her biological family had left.  She walked away into the colony fast so she wouldn’t hear their protests.  And as she hurried back to the square, she released a silent prayer that they would turn around and go home and not come back for her again.


            That night, when Benjamin had returned from whatever he had been doing with the other men at the church, Elizabeth obediently placed a plate of hot food at his spot on the table and sat down across from him, turning to her own plate, which bore half as much food as her husband’s, as expected.

            After several minutes of complete silence, Benjamin spoke up.  “I hear you had some visitors at the gate today.”

            Elizabeth looked up in shock.  “How did you…”

            Her husband held up a hand to stop her.  “You will never again talk to outsiders without my permission or without me present.”

            “It was my family…” Elizabeth whispered, dropping her gaze down to her plate.

            Benjamin stood quickly, knocking his chair over in the process.  As expected, Elizabeth stood as well, her gaze still trained low.  Benjamin stomped the few steps over to her and grabbed her wrists.  “I beg your pardon?”


            He slapped her hard across the face before grabbing her chin in one of his hands and forcing it up.  He squeezed it hard as he growled, “I am your family now, do you understand?  You have no family on the outside.  None at all.”

            “Yes, husband,” Elizabeth said as best she could as he crushed her cheeks.

            “Repeat it,” he ordered.

            “You are my family.  I have no family on the outside.”

            He released her face and pulled her into the next room, forcing a pregnancy test into her hands along the way.  This was the first time he had done this, and as he pushed her into the bathroom he commanded, “You will take this test.  We must know if you are upholding your duties.”

            She followed the directions on the box and she waited for the results, her back leaning against the bathroom door.  She heard Benjamin storm back into the kitchen, pick up his chair, and sit down again to eat his dinner.  She could hear the clink of the silverware against the plate.  Her stomach rumbled, but she didn’t dare exit the room until the results had appeared.  Finally, she stared at the test stick once more as the results appeared and then left the room.  Benjamin wandered into the family room from the kitchen and stood before her with his arms crossed and a stern look on his face.

            “Well?” he prompted.

            “It’s…it’s negative…” Elizabeth whispered.

            Benjamin grabbed the wrist of the hand that held the test and yanked it toward him.  Elizabeth was pulled forward with this motion.  He looked closely at the test and then slapped her again, harder than before.  She recoiled from the attack, the test clattered to the floor, and her hand flew to her face.

            “You’re doing something wrong,” he hissed.  “You’re sinning.  God is mad at you.”

            “I’m not…”

            She didn’t get the rest of her words out, because at that moment he punched her in the stomach and she folded onto the floor in the fetal position, clutching her injury and gasping for breath.

            “You’re a sinner, wife.  God would not be punishing me, because I am already in his favor.  He must be punishing you.  Never argue with me about this again.”  He paused, looking down at her.  “Ask for my forgiveness.”  She couldn’t get out the words, so he instead kicked her in the mid-section.  “Answer me!”

            Elizabeth was now sobbing, but she managed to whisper, “I will try harder, husband.  Please forgive me.”

            “As long as you will follow up on that promise, I will forgive you.  I’m a reasonable man, right?”

            “Yes, husband.”

            “However, you need to get back into God’s good graces.  You will not spend tonight with me in bed.  Instead you will remain knelt on the bedroom floor in prayer.  You will not fall asleep.  Am I understood?”

            “Yes, husband.”

            “I’m done with dinner.  You may clean up.”

            Elizabeth staggered to her feet, still clutching her stomach, and left the room as Benjamin settled down on the couch.

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