Lily reentered her classroom. She sat in her cheap metal swivel chair and gazed through the rectangle of window at the live oak outside. Mysteries hung in the boughs of her mind—what to make of Thomas’ comments about Beth and Beth’s replacement in the counselors’ offices, of Beth’s machinations and designs on Lily’s future with Covenant. Beth’s family, she thought, was inseparable from Covenant.
Suddenly there was a knock at her classroom door that startled Lily. It was the bookkeeper, Alice.
“Oh Lily, I am sorry to interrupt anything but there’s a message for you Mrs. Wilkins forgot to give you. I thought I’d just bring it down.”
“Yes, of course. Thanks, Alice.”
“You bet,” Alice replied.
Alice entered Lily’s classroom and handed her an envelope. Lily stood up from the metal chair and stared at the envelope. Alice had not turned to go.
“I’m sorry, Alice, but is that all?”
“I was just curious if you’d like to borrow my book on hearing from God.”
“Well, it may be some time before I could get to it,” Lily said. “I have my literature classes going on; those consume a large portion of time. Plus, in the afternoons, I help interested students who struggle with writing,” Lily said.
“I know you do, Lily. I remember Beth talking about how you had people in your classroom many times that…”
“I’m sorry but what are you suggesting, Alice?”
“Nothing at all. I was just saying that Beth—the counselor, Ms. Aims. Anyway, she mentioned several times to Mrs. Wilkins and us in the front office how you often had people in your classroom. That’s all, Lily. Did I say something? I’m sorry. I didn’t mean anything,” Alice said.
“It is fine, Alice. As I said, I help interested students who struggle with writing. And my peers are certainly welcome in my classroom, as I assume I am in theirs. Does that make sense?”
“Of course, Lily. I’m sorry. I just came to deliver a message you had missed, that’s all,” Alice said.
“I will be glad to read that book on hearing from God if you think it’s important,” Lily said.
“You bet, Lily,” Alice replied excitedly. “I’ll go get it, okay?”
Alice’s back disappeared from Lily’s classroom door. Lily stared at the envelope Alice had brought. Inside was a beige piece of stationery that had sullied to the color of dark orange the color of Beth’s ruined hair. B.A. was embossed at the top in black letters. In the middle of the piece of paper were four words: IT IS NOT FINISHED in all caps.
Lily swallowed and looked again through her rectangle of window. Winds stirred. Lily pined and watched the oak’s leaves bristle against each other in agitation as if a thunderstorm were forming.