“Lily” (Part four)

Lily tried to listen. She wanted others to comment about Jacob’s wrestling match with the angel, but all Lily could see was Beth’s black nails at the end of the masculine hands. Beth maimgresnipulated each ring on her fingers. She’d not remove them; she’d turn them round and round on each hideous finger, as if planning. Still, no one else spoke after Beth. Her words were shadows that darkened the atmosphere. Other than her ruined rust-colored hair, Beth was a tower of darkness, adorned with golden ornaments.

“I must seem so odd,” Lily thought, “here from Rook, a teacher from another state, and everyone seems to know each other here. Please, Lord, send me a friend.”

“Well,” Tim addressed the class, “Jacob was of course used greatly by God, as Beth said. He is renamed, in fact. God gives him a new identity. Jacob is Israel soon hereafter, a deceiver become struggler, and father of twelve sons, a man through whom God will continue to keep his promise to bless those whose trust is in him.”

“That’s exactly right, Tim,” Beth said. “I remember when Dad started Covenant School. He told Mom and us girls how God had called him to plant a school with godly counselors–and teachers, too, who would guide kids in the right direction. We ended up selling our big farm out Highway 91, and we moved into town and began Covenant. It was like we all had a new identity—like Jacob did! Right, Tim?”

Lily turned to water in her metal chair. She would not have been surprised to see Beulah’s custodian enter the Sunday school classroom door to mop her up—drop by drop. Beth was the headmaster’s daughter. Beth, the rusty-haired word factory. Beth, a tower of hot air and dark shadows; a counselor sure to plunge students into ruin, and Lily into unemployment.

(To be continued)

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