Lily’s Adam’s apple transformed into a cantaloupe, she believed. Suddenly she felt unable to swallow. Beth’s voice crashed inside Lily’s ears and the ruined hair appeared garish gold under the Sunday school room’s fluorescent lights.
“Good morning, Alice. It’s nice to see you,” Lily said.
“You bet!” Alice said smiling.
Lily turned next to greet Desiree Dramal but was interrupted.
“Looks like someone finally got to a classroom before you,” Beth said. “I came early with two of my oldest friends.”
Lily smiled in silence at Beth.
“Ms. Rood, have you been visiting Beulah long?” Desiree Dramal asked.
“Since moving to Glim, yes,” Lily said. “And you?” Lily longed to elude being the subject of public conversation.
Desiree shifted one long leg six inches behind her as if she were coiling to strike. “Not exactly, Ms. Rood. My family and I are members of Beulah but we don’t feel obligated to attend as if that were more pleasing to God. We know better.”
Lily felt the cantaloupe in her throat again. Is it possible, she wondered, for Beth Aims and Desiree Dramal to be more loathsome? Did evil replicate more than good?
“Lily, welcome back. I’m glad to see you have met some more new friends.” Tim had seen Lily enter and disappear into the den of Beth, Desiree, and Alice.
“Thank you, Tim. I was eager to hear you teach again,” ignoring the part about new friends.
“We’ll be in Ruth again, okay. Anyway, I’ll let you ladies continue. Just wanted to welcome you back.” Tim walked back over towards his stool and lectern. Lily glimpsed Nathanael sitting where he had sat before when his parents came. Nathanael sat sipping coffee in equipoise and resumed a subdued conversation with Tim. Nathanael looked at Lily and smiled and said “Good morning” silently with his lips.
“Lily, sit here by Beth, Desiree, and me,” Alice said. “I saved a seat for you.”
“Thank you, Alice, but I was sitting over there this morning,” nodding in the direction of Tim and Nathanael.
“It’s okay, Alice. Not to worry,” Beth said. “We’ll see Ms. Rood soon enough.”
“You bet, Lily,” Alice said.
Lily walked over towards Nathanael and sat next to him with one seat empty between them, opened her Bible app again on her phone, and felt stares upon her. When she looked over towards Alice in hopes she had not hurt her feelings, Desiree Dramal had her right leg twisted around her left one like wild ivy vines around a tree. Lily felt the cantaloupe in her throat.
“Good morning, everyone,” Tim said, settling onto his stool behind a black music stand serving as a lectern. “What an impressive group we have this morning.” Lily felt her throat muscles begin to relax when the sound of metallic bracelets filled the air.
“Tim, I wanted everyone to see two of my dearest friends—Desiree and Alice. Please make them feel welcome,” Beth interjected.
Lily’s cantaloupe pushed against the walls of her throat as Nathanael touched her on the shoulder.
“Good morning, Ms. Rood. Glim treating you well so far?”
(To be continued)