Lily awoke in the predawn. Mauve light bathed her bedroom walls and bed. She cherished early hours, especially sunrises, as if they declared messages. Her worn copy of Wuthering Heights had tumbled onto the bedroom floor beside the bed. Lily leaned over the side of her bed and retrieved the novel. She placed it on her nightstand beside the other books. She showered and dressed for Beulah. She brewed coffee and toasted an English muffin for breakfast. Finally she brushed her teeth and checked herself in her bathroom mirror again before driving to Beulah.
When she arrived at church, several cars were there. Deacons and elders, she assumed, came early to prep the classrooms and church grounds for Sunday’s services. The sun grew higher in eastern sky. Lily planned to sit in her car to gather her thoughts before going to Tim’s class. She opened her purse, retrieved her iPhone and checked her Bible app. She began to read. Suddenly the shadow of someone darkened her side of her small car, startling her. She looked up nervously from her car. Donald smiled down at her. Lily smiled and exhaled. She opened her car door and grabbed her phone.
“I hope I didn’t scare you, Miss Rood,” Donald said. “I saw you pull in and thought I’d be sure you were okay.”
“I won’t lie. You did scare me, but I’m glad it’s you,” Lily said.
“Hopefully coming to Beulah does not frighten prospects,” Donald said, smiling. “May I walk you in?”
“Yes, yes. Please. No, I enjoy Beulah very much, but I had some interesting encounters at Glim’s Wal-Mart. I’m skittish now.”
“Wal-Mart? Well, I’ve lived here before Wal-Mart came, and I went there as often before they came as I have since.”
Uncertain whether she understood Donald, Lily smiled and raised her eyebrows to signal him to continue.
“I’m a farmer, Miss Rood. Well, I was. Now my boys run it. For me, Wal-Mart signals a huge shift, one I’m not sure I’m fond of.”
“But you said you had an interesting encounter? I hope you were not in danger,” Donald said.
“I was accused by a couple of hitting their car door with my car door in the parking lot,” Lily said, “but I didn’t. I parked about as far away from the front as possible and this couple parked right beside me when there must’ve been four acres of parking lot they could have used.”
“Sounds like there’s more to this, Miss Rood. Perhaps we can continue over coffee this week with Thomas, if you have time,” Donald said. He opened the church doors for Lily and they both entered Beulah’s narthex.
“I’d welcome that, Donald. Thank you. I know where Tim’s class is, so I’ll go on alone. I’m good now.”
Donald extended his hand and Lily inhaled the Jergens.
“Is it okay with your wife if I hug you?” Lily asked.
“I’m old enough to be your father, dear. I don’t think there’s any danger of jealousy.”
When Lily turned towards Tim’s classroom down the corridor, she heard voices issuing from within. She checked her iPhone to confirm it was on silent mode and crossed into the class, looking for Tim and Nathanael.
“Lily!” Beth said. “Welcome back. So glad you came again. I’ve brought two of my oldest friends. You know Desiree and Alice, of course.”
(To be continued)