As soon as Lily passed over the threshold of the library’s metal door, she heard Beth’s voice. And there were other women’s voices, too. Composed voices, dissimilar, measured. The voices came from the counselors’ offices on the right side of the corridor leading to Lily’s classroom. Lily walked slowly and lighter than normal, alone towards her classroom. She hoped to evade negative fallout from Donald’s announcement about Nathanael assuming the role of Covenant’s headmaster.
When Lily passed the counselors’ offices, she turned her head and eyes to the right and looked in without slowing her pace. A wash of red blouse, the tinny clinking of Beth’s bracelets sliding back and forth on her forearms. Sarah and Ruth stood around Beth, listening.
“What do you mean I didn’t receive the unanimous votes required? I have been at Covenant for several years now. Where have you two been?” Beth implored.
Neither Sarah nor Ruth spoke now, convinced Beth was not ready for the answer.
“Sarah, you left town nearly before your diploma was even in your hand. Off to college you went, then law school, with almost no communication between you, Mom, and Daddy” Beth said.
Sarah gazed into her baby sister’s eyes with pity and in silence for the moment.
“Sure, you were smarter than the rest of us. But you graduated college, went to law school and married, and years went by before you, Mom, and Daddy ever addressed the past,” Beth continued. “And I remained here to pick up the pieces that you left through your silent ways. And here you are again, back with your same means. And once again, things have blown up. Why do you think that just because you’re book-smart, you can reappear into our lives and legislate things?
“I am the daughter that remained in town. I am the daughter that works at Covenant. I am the daughter who has counseled these kids that come through these halls. And I am the one who should lead this school.”
Sarah stood speechless but unintimidated. Beth turned her burning eyes towards Ruth.
“And you! You think you can reenter our town just because Daddy died. And then you vote against my taking over here? I am the one who stayed on the farm after you and Sarah left. Like Sarah, you think you can return, and act as if nothing happened. But things have happened. Daddy left farming, and we began Covenant,” Beth shouted.
“Are you through?” Ruth asked.
“Here you go again, Ruth. You think you’re so clever, just like Sarah. But I’m the daughter who has stayed with our parents. I’m the one who will take care of our mother now,” Beth continued. “And you two will just go about your lives away from here after we get this all straightened out.
“I know Daddy would want me to run this school, not his grandson, who is not old or tough enough to handle it,” Beth said.
Sarah and Ruth stood looking at Beth and then at each other in silence, waiting for the proper time.
When Lily touched the silver knob of her classroom door, she opened it slowly, not wanting the Aims daughters to know she had heard anything.
(To be continued)