Trish came home while her mother was sleeping off her cold. Very quietly, she took the coat from the closet where it was stored and stuffed it into a duffel bag. When the zipper wouldn’t close around the bulk, she sat on it and squeezed it shut. Very quietly she slipped out the front door to a waiting taxi. A few minutes later she was at the bus station with a key in her hand. The coat was in a deposit box and she breathed a sigh of relief. The taxi dropped her a few blocks from the Sunoco station and she walked the rest of the way.
There they were, waiting for her. She swallowed hard and put the shoulder strap of her purse across her body. The train case, the only piece of luggage she could find in the storage space aside of the upstairs rooms, contained a few pieces of clothing, paper and pencil, and an envelope, and her good luck charm, a shriveled rabbit’s foot. She felt out of breath but at the same time she knew in her heart she had made the right decision.
They hugged her with an enthusiasm that transferred to her. She found herself smiling in relief of their acceptance. “Della,” she said. “I promise I won’t be a bother. Are you sure the Brother will take me in?”
“It’s how all of us came to the temple. He welcomes all.”
Nevin clapped her on the back and relieved her of the case. “The van will soon pick us up. We were afraid you weren’t coming. I got so nervous,” he laughed self-consciously. When he had hugged her, she felt his thin body press against her and immediately worried that he was sick.
“I had an errand to run first. It was just something I had to do.” She didn’t want to explain. “I’m nervous, too,” she tried to laugh, but wishing he was all right.
“You will soon feel at peace, knowing you will be saved by the Brother. Then you will truly be one of us. You will; be a child of the Light.” Della’s face glowed while she spoke.
For a moment Trish had the desire to run home. Home was where her life was miserable. She resisted that urge and got into the truck when it came to pick them up.
“I’m Dorcas.” Spoke up a blond, fragile looking girl in the seat behind her. “Have you been saved?” she asked, running her fingers through Trish’s long hair. “A shame he won’t let you keep that. Vanity is a sin, you know.”
“I believe in God, if that’s what you mean.” Trish was embarrassed. She didn’t think having long hair meant she was vain. She felt just the opposite.
“I can always tell when someone hasn’t been saved. They look so into themselves, so unhappy.” Dorcas didn’t look at Trish. She kept nibbling on an apple.
Trish was beginning to dislike the girl she had never even met. How could Dorcas possibly tell about her? She wasn’t wearing a sign. How many people are really happy, anyway?
Della took her hand. “Don’t be offended. My friend is usually right. She can pick unhappy people out of a crowd. That’s what makes her so good at this. We have such a wonderful fulfilled life, we just want to share our happiness in salvation with everyone. Her young face was filled with such rapture.
Trish turned again to look at Dorcas. She saw the same expression on her face. She wondered if someday she would have that look of perfect peace. As they drove, she watched for a mail box. When one finally came up she took an envelope from her purse and asked the driver to stop while she mailed a letter to a friend.