“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, March 18, 2013

Chapter Twenty-Three, Part Two

          Without noticing it, she had arrived at the cottage.  Silently, she walked through the front door.  For a moment, she had managed to convince herself that Benjamin was out.  That idea disappeared fast when he came storming into the room.

            “Where have you been?  The bell signaling the birth rang over an hour ago,” Benjamin said.

            She pushed past him, answering, “We had to bless the baby and find out the name and pray.”

            “Sandra stopped by.  You are required to attend a seminar tonight with a group of the new Level Fours,” Benjamin said.  Elizabeth walked into the bedroom and picked up her tote bag that she used to carry her Rose Bible and notebook, but she also threw in her journal and scarves.  “I am not your secretary, wife!”

            He stormed into the bedroom after her, grabbed her by the shoulders, and whipped her around to face him.  Elizabeth pushed against his chest and tried to twist out of his grip, but he just squeezed harder.

            “I have to go to seminar!” she cried.

            “You don’t have to go right away.  If you’re doing your husband’s bidding, you’ll be excused from the beginning of it.  Now you’re probably going to be at the church for most of the night, so you will get into bed now and we will try to get you pregnant,” Benjamin ordered.

            “No,” Elizabeth said.

            “Excuse me?  You will do as I say!”


            “Wife, get into bed!”  Benjamin pushed her onto the bed then, and tried to pin her down.

            “Get off me!” Elizabeth yelled and kneed him in the groin.  He recoiled and in that moment of weakness, Elizabeth rolled off the bed, grabbed her bag, and escaped to the next room.  Benjamin recovered quickly and caught up to her, grabbing her wrist and twisting her around again.

            “Ask for my forgiveness!” he yelled at her, twisting her wrist in his hands.


            “I’ll break your wrist, woman, don’t think I won’t!”

            Elizabeth felt her wrist start to crack, but she bit Benjamin on the hand and he released again.  “I don’t have to listen to you!” she yelled.  “I never have to listen to you again!  You don’t own me and you should feel absolutely ashamed by how you treat women!”

            “How dare you speak to me that way!” Benjamin yelled, and reached to grab her once more.  “I’m your husband!”

            Elizabeth ducked away from him and said, “Not anymore.”  With that, she took the wedding ring off her finger, threw it to the ground, grabbed her bag, and rushed out of the cottage, slamming the front door.

            Her adrenaline kept her going all the way into the atrium of the church.  She found Sandra, Jacqueline, Morgan, and Delia standing amongst the crowd and she approached them as quickly as her legs would let her.

            Elizabeth!” Sandra called, waving her over.  She spotted her charge’s face.  “What’s wrong?”

            It was only then that Elizabeth realized she was crying.  She wasn’t sure if this was from fear or relief, but she watched Jacqueline and Morgan look at her in surprise.  She didn’t know if they could guess what she had done or what she was about to do, but she didn’t let herself think on it.  She focused her attention on Sandra.

            “I left Benjamin.  I’m done,” announced Elizabeth.

            Sandra’s jaw dropped, Delia just stared, and the other two looked at each other, trying to decide if Elizabeth was doing what they thought.

            “Elizabeth, that is a terrible sin.  You vowed to stay by his side until death!  Unless you’re an angel speaking to me from the other side, you’re not dead,” Sandra said.  “You’ll need to pray for hours to make up for this.  You will go back to Benjamin immediately and do whatever he wants you to do without so much as a word against him.  You will announce your sin to the church.  Even that may not be enough.”  She reached out and took Elizabeth’s hand, trying to lead her away.

            Elizabeth pulled her arm out of Sandra’s grasp.  “Didn’t you hear me?  I’m done.”

            “No, you’re not,” Sandra argued.  “You’re not done with your marriage until God takes one of you to Heaven.”

            “I’m not just talking about my marriage!  I’m talking about all of this!  I’m done with feeling sad and doing whatever everyone else tells me to.  I’m done with the lack of sleep and the praying until the early hours of the morning.  I’m done with you and this church.  I’m done.”  To make her point, she pulled the dark yellow scarf off her head and pressed it into Sandra’s hand.


            “I’m done too,” Jacqueline spoke up and handed her scarf to Delia.

            “Me too.  I’m done,” Morgan agreed and also gave Delia her scarf.

            “You can’t do this!” Delia cried.

            “Delia, shut up!” Jacqueline ordered.  “Morgan and I stayed for Elizabeth.  If she’s done, we’re done.  This place isn’t worth the crap.”

            Sandra just stared at Elizabeth’s scarf and didn’t say anything.  Jacqueline, Elizabeth, and Morgan clasped hands and walked out of the church together, heads held high.

            “You’re all going to Hell!” Delia screamed after them.

            Not one of them turned back.  They walked forward into the outside world that they had now rejoined.


            After dropping off Morgan at her own home, Jackie and Liz walked through the front door of the McLancy house, arms linked.  Liz took a deep breath as she looked around the front hallway.  She hadn’t realized how much she missed this place.  Jackie left her there and wandered into the kitchen, where the family was eating dinner.  Liz was taking in every detail of the entrance, but she could hear the startled rumblings of the voices of her family.  After a few minutes, she turned slowly toward the hallway that led to the family room and saw every member of her family standing there staring at her.  She stopped gazing around and stared back at them.  The silence continued for several seconds before her mother rushed forward and pulled her into a tear-filled hug.  The rest of the family quickly followed suit, sobbing and hugging Liz and Jackie.

            “So you left?” Mom asked, wiping tears from her eyes.  “You both really left?  We have our daughters back?”

            Liz and Jackie looked at each other and then nodded.  “We both left,” Liz confirmed.

            “You’re both idiots, you know that right?” Eva asked.  “We told you to leave a million times and you’re both idiots.”

            Liz couldn’t find anything to say against her younger sister, so she just pulled a surprised Eva into a tight hug instead.


            None of them asked about what had happened to Liz’s wrist when she had wrapped it.  None of them asked what had happened to her in the colony, what had caused her to leave.  None of them asked a single question about the cult their oldest sisters had joined.  Liz guessed their parents had ordered that the siblings let the two girls tell them when they were ready.  She guessed their parents had ordered that each sibling let the two girls settle back into a normal routine.  Liz was grateful for this.

            As they sat together in the family room, watching some movie on television, finally acting like a real family for the first time in months, the phone rang.  After some argument, Eva stomped off to answer it and then came back and threw the family room phone at Liz’s head.

            “Why is the stupid phone always for you?!” she cried.

            Liz rolled her eyes and picked up the receiver.  “Hello?”

            Elizabeth, you can’t leave.”

            “Sandra?”  The room got dead quiet and everyone looked at Liz.

            “You can’t leave.  You just can’t.”

            “I already left.  I told you…I’m done.”

            Elizabeth, you’re like the little sister I never had.  I can’t go to Heaven while you go to Hell,” Sandra begged.

            “Who says I’m going to Hell?  Pastor Simon?  Guess what, Sandra.  He’s not God.”

            Elizabeth, please, you’re making a terrible mistake.  Please come back.”

            Liz dropped her voice to a whisper.  “I’m sorry, Sandra, but I can’t.  I can never come back, not after what you people put me through.  I’m never setting foot near the colony again.  I just can’t.”  Liz hung up the phone before Sandra could protest.  The phone rang again a moment later, but Liz shook her head and put it aside.  No one else answered it.

            She curled her knees up to her chest and leaned against Jackie.  Part of her felt like she was nearing a panic attack, even though she was relieved to be free.

            “This isn’t going to be easy, is it?” Liz whispered.

            Jackie wrapped an arm around her sister.  “No.  I don’t think it is.”

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