Why Beth? Why do I attract busybodies? To teach, to find a few true friends here, Lily thought, and yet… When Lily exited the counselors’ offices, she caught her reflection again in the glass panes of the wrestling trophy cabinets. She saw streaks of gray in her otherwise brown hair, and her face pale. Trophies behind the glass captured athletes throwing opponents to the mat, gilded shapes of calf muscles and triceps swollen with blood. She felt mocked by the reflection. She now longed to be alone. She thought she would fail at teaching here, believing Beth to have cast suspicion over her character.
“Ms. Rood!” It was Nathanael. “Please let us continue our conversation from earlier, but not here.”
“Which one is that—the cryptic childhood of the Aims sisters, or the libel about me from your aunt?” Lily returned.
“Ms. Rood, please. May we agree that you’re owed some explanations, and an apology?”
“I came to teach here because your grandfather recruited me from Rook. I did not ask for the rest of this!” Lily said.
“Agreed. My grandfather was right to recruit you for Covenant. And no, you certainly did not ask for my aunt to plot against you. This is, I am ashamed to say, her custom,” Nathanael said.
“Custom—that’s what you call it. Why must she meddle in my life? What have I done to encourage her?” Lily asked.
“Nothing, Ms. Rood. That’s what she hates.”
“I don’t understand. I moved from Rook to teach at Covenant. I do my best here, just as I did there. I think my students, and most of my peers, agree I do a good job. Yet your aunt is determined to destroy me. Why? I cannot even escape her at church. She nests there, too,” Lily said.
“There are some people that cannot leave others alone, especially those by whom they feel threatened.”
“Threatened! I don’t want be a counselor, a headmistress, or anything but a teacher,” Lily said.
“She hates that, Ms. Rood. I know that hate is a strong word, but my Aunt Beth finds her joy only when working against what my grandfather wanted.”
“In short, a redeemed place where learning is modeled and passed on to the next generation,” Nathanael said.
“Holloa! What do we have here—our new leader with our literature aficionado?” Thomas McDavid had stepped into the hall from his classroom, and seen Lily and Nathanael.
“Just speaking with Ms. Rood, Thomas. Is all well?” Nathanael asked.
“Amicorum omnia communia,” Mr. McDavid said. “And we three are friends, yes?”
Lily smiled at Mr. McDavid. “Yes, Thomas,” Nathanael said, “of course.”
Mr. McDavid returned to his classroom, and Nathanael looked again at Lily. “Might we get together after this day ends?” Nathanael asked.
“I just want to be alone,” Lily said. “I don’t think I would be good company. Plus, I have several classes still to teach today. I’m just hoping to be able to focus on my students and point them to what we’ve been going through this year.”
“I’ve no doubt you will lead them well, Ms. Rood. My grandfather was a wise man, and he brought you here for a reason. He saw something in you.”
“Some days that something feels like a target,” Lily said.
(To be continued)