For Lily, several days bled into lonely evenings. Dusk invariably found her heart heavy. Each passing February day’s light faded but her sorrows increased in counterpoint. Her thoughts turned upon her as opponents. She wrestled invisible foes during her dreams while she fought to rest. Beth’s visage plagued her mind–the fake black fingernails, the masculine hands, the ruined hair. Lily suffered when alone. When not teaching, she sought comfort in reading and at Beulah on weekends. She longed for Thomas McDavid to attend Beulah, but it did not appear he was active at Beulah or otherwise in a local church body.
When Sunday arrived, Lily rose as if she had slept upon stones rather than a bed. She ached in her hip and lower back. The gray in her hair, she believed, betrayed her melancholy. But Beulah promised Tim’s teaching Sunday school, seeing Donald, and perhaps Nathanael. She washed, dressed, and drove towards Beulah.
As she pulled into Beulah’s parking lot and exited her car, sunlight shone above and around Beulah’s steeple. She stepped from her car. “Christ,” she said.
“What’s that?” an elderly woman asked. It was Mrs. Ellen Aims.
“I’m sorry, what?” Lily asked.
“You said ‘Christ’ as you got out of your car. I’m sorry, but I saw you pull in and I was watching you. You remember me, right?”
“Yes, of course. I’m sorry,” Lily said, “but I did not realize I had said anything. How are you, Mrs. Aims?”
“It’s alright, dear. I talk to myself, too,” Mrs. Aims said.
“I was just thinking as I pulled in, and I saw the sun and steeple… I’m rambling. Sometimes I just see things, you know?”
“It’s really alright, dear. If you cannot say ‘Christ’ here, when can you?” Mrs. Aims said. “Would you care to walk in together?”
“I would love that. Thank you,” Lily said.
Ahead Lily could see Donald at the front door of the church, smiling at her and Mrs. Ellen Aims. Lily grinned to herself, thinking of the Jergens scent she’d soon inhale. She walked beside Mrs. Aims, looking towards Donald, as the sun fell upon them like a benediction.
(To be continued)