I forced a smile, even as Beth marched over to the radio.
She flipped the dial until it landed on her preferred station.
O, God, our help in ages past,
"Our hope in years to come..." Beth began to sing with the blaring notes from an organ.
I suppose the old hymns could soothe a restless soul, but not mine. They brought other memories I'd rather not recall. I rested the paper on my lap and watched Sunday's routine unfold. Eric, with Jenny in tow, strolled in and acknowledged me with a nod. Beth motioned for me to make room for them, before placing her Bible in its rightful spot on the rickety end table.
"Smells great," Eric said. "Roast beef?"
Beth nodded and stood over me, her hands placed on her thick waistline. "When did you check on it last?"
"Just before," I said. The answer didn't satisfy Beth and she took off into the kitchen.
Eric landed in the worn plaid armchair across from me. Jenny sank in the matching love seat, which immediately swallowed her.
"Eric!" Beth called from the kitchen. "Tell Laura how many came forward today."
I looked over at Eric, trying to express an interest, but he cleared his throat and said, "I'm sure you don't really care."
Jenny's long thin fingers twisted a strand of stringy brown hair. Barely above a whisper, she said, "Eric really inspires them."
"Well," Eric said, "I think half of them came up just to tell me again how sorry they were about Dad." He loosened his tie and tossed it on the arm of the chair. "That his shirt you're wearing?"
I touched the baggy, grey cotton button down and nodded.
"Everything'll be ready in a few minutes," Beth said, coming back into the living room. She plopped down next to me with a grunt. "Meanwhile, let's visit."
I knew what that meant. Beth had just come from Sunday service and was itching to let me know about the healing and praising that I missed, but I shifted to the edge of the couch, and said, "There is something I want to discuss with you. Actually, with all of you."
Ignoring me, Beth said, "You know, on the way home I was telling Eric...and Jenny, of course, how sad it was that you missed today's service. Deacon Don shared the most inspirational verses."
"I'm sure," I said, "but I wanted---"
Up from the grave he arose...
Beth joined in with the radio. "He arose! He arose!"
Eric cleared his throat, and said, "Laura, you had something to say?"
I sat up straighter and said, "Yeah."
"I know what it is," Jenny said, her eyes bright. "You sold another book!"
I smiled, but shook my head. "We're still waiting to hear from the publisher." It had been a couple of months ago when I gave my manuscript to Loren, my agent. I usually badger him to find out what's going on, but with Dad's recent death, Loren had been given a respite from me.
"What's the name of it again?" Jenny said.
I sighed, eager to get to my news, but replied, "The Pink Goose."
"The Pink Goose!" Beth said, abandoning the song. "That doesn't sound right. Wouldn't it be better if it had more of a, well, a spiritual title?" She gazed at me; her blue eyes so much like our mother's-eyes with a look that could stop you short if you let them. "I mean, wouldn't it be wonderful if it had a message for children? You could sell dozens at Christian bookstores and---"
"It does have a message, Beth, but more of a universal one."
Her jaw tightened. "You mean worldly, don't you?"
Eric jumped in. "So, is it your job? You did tell them that your father died, right?"
"My job's just fine," I said. "I mean, they still give me a hard time being the only female reporter there and all, but they're still giving me stories to cover."
"That must be so excit---," Jenny said, before glancing at Beth and stopping herself.
Beth lunged up and said, "Well, the potatoes won't mash themselves." She headed toward the kitchen.
"But we haven't talked yet!" I called.
"Can't it wait?" she said. "The table needs to be set and the meat sliced."
Dear Readers, Please let me know if you're interested in knowing more about the Sumner family and the news Laura is about to share.