The End of the Matter (Part one)

“Lily, where are you going?” Nathanael asked quietly.

“I forgot something. Will you excuse me?”

“You’re leaving—now? Just when class has started?”

“I’m sorry. I will explain later. I will be back.”

Nathanael looked back at Tim in an effort of maintaining decorum. Alice faced Beth and Desiree, who sat adjacent one another. Beth’s bracelets formed brass-colored columns of Slinkies up both wrists and forearms, black polish on the ends of the masculine hands, but her countenance had changed. When Lily crossed out of the room, Beth sat higher in her silver folding chair, appearing taller.

“I don’t understand,” Alice said.

“Perhaps she is returning to Rook,” Beth whispered contemptuously, but laughed loud enough for the others to hear. Alice looked at Desiree Dramal whose long legs coiled about desired objects, seeking warmth. Desiree did not speak.

“Desiree, what happened?” Alice asked. Desiree cut her eyes at Beth instead and smiled but did not answer Alice.

Nathanael looked at Tim and waited for him to resume teaching.

“You were saying, Alice, that trusting God involved trusting his nature, right?”

But Alice now thought only of Lily. She wanted to know where she had gone and why. She looked at Tim, at Nathanael, at Beth and Desiree. Lily’s scent hung in the classroom.

“Tim, we’ll move over up closer to you now, if that’s alright,” Desiree Dramal said, sliding onto the chair Lily had left.

Nathanael straightened his spine and pressed his Oxford shirt with his right hand inside his sport coat, as if he were suddenly cold. Desiree and Beth wound around him. Alice remained where she was, uncertain what to do or where to turn. For the first time, Nathanael seemed unsettled, like scales had turned.

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