Lily watched. Beth’s tears appeared as if on cue. She waved her arms in figure eights as she raised her voice towards Sarah and Ruth. Beth glared at Sarah.
“I won’t even respond to you, not after what you have orchestrated here. I should have known!”
“Beth, did you ask Ms. Rood to come here for this?” Sarah asked. “I’m sure she would like to know why she has been summoned.”
Lily feared perspiration was showing through her blouse. She stood silent.
“Well, Beth, what do you have to say to her?” Sarah continued.
“This must’ve been why you left home after high school, because you’re so hateful to people who are just trying to help!” Beth retorted.
“Beth, why will you not answer Sarah’s questions?” It was Ruth. Lily turned her eyes to read Ruth’s but Ruth was fixed on Beth.
“I’ll not stand for this. I’m supposed to be headmistress of Covenant. How can you two be so cruel? You come back to town just when I–…” Beth said.
“Yes?” Sarah said. “Just when you what?”
“O, forget it!” Beth shouted, and turned away. A storm of red blouse and the crash of tiny cymbals clanged against one another as she flung her arms above her head.
“Ms. Rood,” Sarah said, “I am sorry for what you have witnessed here. I hope this does not sully your image of our father. This is not his fault.”
“I am just confused,” Lily said. “I would not think this is the way your father would have wanted the school to handle things.”
“Exactly,” Sarah said. “The school has procedures in place for replacing leadership and faculty. This is partly why Ruth and I are here. Beth did not follow the procedures. Instead, she wanted to remake Covenant in a different image.”
“Different image? Aren’t we just talking about selecting a new headmaster? Image carries different meanings, does it not?” Lily asked.
“Again, you are right,” Sarah said. “But remaking the image is exactly what our little sister is about, Ms. Rood.”
“How much time have you spent with Beth?” Sarah asked.
“Minimal, really,” Lily said. “I see her here at work, of course. But I’ve been attending Beulah since moving here, and I have been in her Sunday school class.”
“Whose class,” Sarah asked.
“Tim is the teacher,” Lily said. “I was just saying Beth’s because…”
Lily looked at Sarah and saw her smiling kindly at her, almost pitying.
“It’s okay, Ms. Rood,” Sarah said. “That is what I mean. Beth’s a master manipulator. She presents everything—Covenant, Beulah, every story—with herself as the center. She is, as you probably teach your literature students, the protagonist.”
“I see,” Lily said. “But where do things stand with Nathanael…with Covenant, I mean?”
“I think he will discuss that with you soon,” Sarah said. “For now, I just hope we have not bruised our father’s legacy, or Covenant’s, by what you have witnessed.”
The image of the Cup-n-Saucer burst upon Lily’s imagination. She was still slated to meet Nathanael there in the morning.
“Okay then,” Lily said. “I guess we are through here for now.”
Suddenly Ruth spoke again. “This is not the first time we have come back due to our sister, Ms. Rood.”
“I see. Well, I should get back to my classroom. I have a bit left before my planning is over,” Lily said.
“Of course,” Sarah said.
Lily turned to go. She seemed to feel the tile floor tilt. Haze filled her mind as she walked away from the counselors’ offices and towards her classroom.
(To be continued)