On the late afternoon of the day of the spring equinox celebration, Deborah sat on the women’s side of the meeting house with the Healers. The hardness of the stone bench made her wish for a cushion. She shifted so she could see the open wooden doors. Would her twin arrive in time? Would he join those who had been his childhood friends?
Ruth sat with the Sensitives. Deborah saw her friend’s ashen skin and the way she bit her lower lip. Deborah wished they sat together for courage and reassurance. The roiling meotions in of the gathered people must responsible for Ruth’s tensions.
She turned from the door and glanced at the platform where the Singers and Elders sat. She spotted Gabriel with the Singers and Paul on a chair beside the eleven older men. In the center of the stage the Seat of Judgment stood beneath the round glass window.
Where was her brother? He had to arrive. There were few reasons any man, woman or child could be absent from one of the four ceremonies. Punishments were always meted out. A night in the stocks could be ordered or banishment with a stoning was also possible.
Paul had vowed they would leave the community without her twin. Could they survive without someone used to living away from the village and their sheltered houses? Her fingers tightened into fists as a frission of fear walked her spine. What if Paul had been mistaken? What if an accident had prevented David’s arrival?
Deborah turned her head toward the door. Her gaze met the icy blue stare of Paul’s older brother. In that instant she saw lust and anger. Her gut lurched. He would be glad if her brother failed to arrive. Elder Jeremiah’s older son had hated David and would have used his position as Teacher to somehow undermine the testing process.
The first peal of the summoning bell rang loud. David, where are you? She tried to reach him on the long unused connection of their childhood. She failed.
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