“Why can’t you just forget about it?”
“I’m trying. I’m trying to forget it ever happened.”
His eyes were dark, though whether from anger or pain she couldn’t tell. She knew he wanted to forget about it, but burying it wasn’t helping. She didn’t know what would.
“I’d like to forget, too. I would. But I can’t. Every night, I dream about it.” She looked down at the red checkered table-cloth, biting her lip. If she cried, it would only make things worse for him.
“Maybe be you ought to get counseling.”
She wondered if he realized how dispassionate he sounded, how uninvolved. Was this just her problem? Didn’t it concern him as well? He was going to be her husband in a few months. Shouldn’t he care about what she was feeling? What was he really telling her? She searched his face, hurt and confused.
“Maybe we both need counseling.”
“Maybe we need time.”
“Yes. I’m angry. I’d like to kill the guy. I think about what I’d like to do if I ever got my hands on him. Is that what you wanted to hear, Dynah? Sits nice with my chosen vocation, doesn’t it? It tears me up every time I think about what was taken. So if you don’t mind, I’d rather not have this topic as dinner conversation.” He tossed his napkin on the table.
Snatching up the check, he looked at it, dropped it on the table, dug for his wallet, and extracted a twenty-dollar bill.
“Let’s get out of here. It doesn’t look like you’re interested in eating anything.” He tossed the money on the table and slid out of the booth.
She didn’t say anything on the drive back to campus. What could she say that would change anything? Ethan didn’t tell her what was wrong, but she felt it. She saw it in his eyes sometimes, though he tried to hide it from her and from himself.
She was defiled.
Ethan pulled into a parking space near the dorm and shut off the engine. Gripping the steering wheel, he sighed heavily.
“I’m sorry, Dynah. I don’t like to think about it, let alone talk about it.” He looked at her bleakly. “It wasn’t your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong. We’ll just have to live with it.”
“Live with it.” The words reverberated in her mind. Live with it. Leave with it. We’ll have to live with the monstrous reality of what happened? It will grow like a living, breathing thing between us, a crouching beast waiting to devour…..
“Oh, Ethan, I wish you’d hold me and tell me everything will be all right.”
He reached out then and drew her close, but she felt the difference. His touch was tentative, almost impersonal. “Will thing ever be the way they were?” She didn’t have to look up at him to feel his withdrawal.
“If God wants them to be.”
His words were like a blow. Dynah drew back and looked up at his stunned. “You think God was punishing me for something. You think he allowed it to happen because he wanted to teach me a lesson.”
“I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not. We’ve always agreed there’s a lesson in everything. Look, I don’t know why things like this happen. Why are there wars? Why do people in Third World countries starve? I can’t pretend to understand the mind of God. All I do know is God has a reason for everything he does.”
Dynah looked at him, sick at heart. Ethan had always been so certain he knew what God wanted. God wanted her to come to NLC. God wanted her to be his wife. Had all that changed?
Turning away, she opened the door abruptly and got out.
“Dynah, wait a minute!” Ethan got out the other side. “Dynah, don’t be like this!”
She ran up the steps and went inside the dorm before he could close his door and follow. Several girls were just coming out of the elevator when she reached it and ducked inside. She punched the button for the third floor.
Thankfully, Janet was out on another date, and she could be alone to think, to feel. She put her purse on her desk and dank down, head in her hands.
She remembered the violence of the Old Testament. It was filled with stories of adversity, slavery, and deliverance. The Israelites had wandered in the desert. Even after they entered the Promised Land, things hadn’t gone smoothly. There had been wars, death, tragedy. The people were stubborn and rebellious.
Prophets cried out for repentance. Israel turned away over and over again. God’s people wouldn’t listen. They wouldn’t trust and obey. They were stiff-necked and headstrong. And God punished them in order to turn them back.
Oh, God, I trusted you. I’ve obeyed.
All men sin and fall short of the glory of God.
She tried to think how she had displeased the Lord. She loved him. Sometimes she thought she was born adoring him. As far back as she could remember, Jesus had been real to her. He was the Bridgroom, the Holy One, her Savior and Lord. She had been raised to feel secure and safe and protected in his love.
She had been taught that his loving hand was in everything. In everything.
Are you in this, Lord? Are you?
God is the potter. I am the clay.
She could see her smiling and saying, “God is molding you into the beautiful woman he wants you to be.”
Oh, God, why have you crushed me? Why have you cast me into the pit? Aren’t acts of violence wrought in retribution?
Oh, Jesus, what did I do to displease you? Was it because I was too proud of Ethan? Was I too happy about marrying him? Was it because I didn’t spend enough time with poor Mr. Packard? Was I rude to that man in the white station wagon? Haven’t I prayed enough? Have I loved Ethan more than you? Is that why you’ve out this wall between us? Oh, Jesus, what did I do wrong? Oh, Jesus, Jesus…..
The telephone rang. She knew it was Ethan and didn’t answer.