Planning period, Lily derided herself. The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps, she told herself. I am supposed to be able to use this time for my students, to grade papers, to call parents, to refine lessons on Great Expectations, to explore Shakespeare’s intimations of Hamlet’s mind, etc. Yet I am walking this hall at Beth’s behest. Mockery.
Lily heard Beth’s bracelets clink against one another before she entered the counselors’ offices. Beth turned at Lily’s entrance.
“Ms. Rood. Come in. I think you know my sisters,” Beth said.
“Somewhat, yes. Good morning. But may I ask what this is about?”
“Good morning, Lily. This is Ruth, our middle sister,” Sarah said.
“Lily Rood. I’m new to Covenant. Your father hired me. And . . . I am sorry for your loss . . . I teach English . . . but I am sorry, I forget myself. I am not sure exactly what to say here,” Lily said.
“It is alright, Ms. Rood,” Ruth said. “Nathanael and my sisters have told me about you. We are thankful you are at Covenant.”
“Thank you,” Lily said. Unsure whether to speak more, she waited.
“Ms. Rood,” Beth interjected, “after the disrespect you and others witnessed in my library this morning, I’m sure you, like many others, desire some explanations. I, too, would like one. This is why I asked you to come to my offices during your planning period.”
“Does that tell you anything, Ms. Rood?” asked Sarah.
“I’m sorry, but what are you asking?” Lily returned.
“Our baby sister here. Her tone. Her bringing you into her web. In short, it’s Beth’s method of operation, as always. Take charge, and when things don’t work out, play the victim,” Sarah said.
“How dare you speak of me that way? I cannot believe you’d libel me like that in front of someone,” Beth said.
“You do not even know Lily Rood. Dad hired her, and she has come to my Sunday school class at Beulah, and I’ve showed her around this community!” Beth continued.
“Exactly,” Sarah said. “Do you even listen to yourself, Beth? Your library. Your Sunday school class. You showed her around this community. Your counselors’ offices. Beth, have you ever considered that perhaps other people don’t find you as fascinating as you find yourself?”
“How dare you speak to me like that, Sarah? I remained here when you went off to school, met Aaron, law school, marriage, the whole thing. I remained as caretaker. When Dad launched Covenant, you were not here to help. Ruth was not here to help. She left as soon as she graduated, too, just as you had done. And it was me!” Beth continued. “I was the one who kept it all together.”
“Do you think perhaps you are leaving some things out?” Sarah asked sarcastically. “Or are you done playing the victim?”
“You think you’re so smart, Sarah. Lawyer lady come back to legislate her way at Covenant!” Beth continued. “You are so cruel.”
Turning to Lily, Beth said, “I am sorry you had to see this, Ms. Rood. Perhaps you can see now some of what I have suffered growing up with these two.” Beth’s mascara smeared at the corners of her brown eyes, where she’d begun to cry.
“Still at it, are you? Just like old times. When you are done playing the victim, perhaps you could familiarize yourself—and Lily here—with the truth,” Sarah said. “But probably not. Because the truth would not have you as the heroine, and that is what chafes you.”
“Is this the way you practice law?” Beth screamed. “So cold, distant, as if you are unaffected! No one here knows what I’ve done, how I’ve worked—slaved—, with Mom and Dad . . . and now he’s gone, and I have to . . .”
Lily watched the thickening of the mascara stream at the corners of Beth’s eyes. Lily began to sweat.
(To be continued)