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Mark 10

And He arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto Him again; and, as He was wont, He taught them again.

And the Pharisees came to Him, and asked Him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting Him.

And He answered and said unto them, “What did Moses command you?”

And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.

And Jesus answered and said unto them, “For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.

“But from the beginning of the creation God ‘MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE.

“‘FOR THIS CAUSE SHALL A MAN LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND CLEAVE TO HIS WIFE;

“‘AND THEY TWAIN SHALL BE ONE FLESH’: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.

“What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.”

And in the house His disciples asked Him again of the same matter.

And He saith unto them, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.

“And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.”

And they brought young children to Him, that He should touch them: and His disciples rebuked those that brought them.

But when Jesus saw it, He was much displeased, and said unto them, “Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

“Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”

And He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them.

And when He was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to Him, and asked Him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

And Jesus said unto him, “Why callest thou Me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

“Thou knowest the commandments, ‘DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT KILL, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, Defraud not, HONOUR THY FATHER AND MOTHER.’ ”

And he answered and said unto Him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.

Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”

And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto His disciples, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!”

And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, “Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?

And Jesus looking upon them saith, “With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.”

Then Peter began to say unto Him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed Thee.

And Jesus answered and said, “Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My sake, and the gospel’s,

“But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

“But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.”

And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And He took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto Him,

Saying, “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles:

“And they shall mock Him, and shall scourge Him, and shall spit upon Him, and shall kill Him: and the third day He shall rise again.”

And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto Him, saying, Master, we would that Thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.

And He said unto them, “What would ye that I should do for you?”

They said unto Him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on Thy right hand, and the other on Thy left hand, in Thy glory.

But Jesus said unto them, “Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”

And they said unto Him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, “Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:

“But to sit on My right hand and on My left hand is not Mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.”

And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John.

But Jesus called them to Him, and saith unto them, “Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.

“But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:

“And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.

“For even the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

And they came to Jericho: and as He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.

And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; He calleth thee.

And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, “What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?” The blind man said unto Him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.

And Jesus said unto him, “Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole [Or, saved thee].” And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way (Mark 10: 1-52).

Nocturne’s Reaping® : Intermezzo

Chapter 9

Takara was very eager to start Monday’s class, so she could find out when the next outing would be. Unfortunately, Miss Harrington logged on to the class site five minutes late. And when she did log on, she went straight to work. Takara’s heart was beating quickly. It was hard for her to calm down enough to focus on the lesson. She breathed, attempting to inhale and exhale as slowly as possible. After all, this information could turn out to be useful on the next field trip. Perhaps, she could even get her work done early during the field trip; that way she could sneak off and mail her letter.

Still, she couldn’t seem to stop herself from looking at the clock more than once as the session progressed. Time was ticking by, and the teacher’s lesson wasn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Takara sat back in her chair and clenched her teeth after the class time expired. A moment after that, she heard the teacher announce that class was over for the day. The teacher then made some comment about needing to be somewhere.

Takara leaned forward; she felt panic-stricken.

“What about the next field trip?” Takara wondered.

When Takara saw the images of the other students looking around, she realized that she had said that out loud. Takara froze. She was horrified when she noticed that Miss Harrington looked flustered.

“I’m sor—”

“We’ll deal with that later.” Miss Harrington said quickly before abruptly logging off. One by one the other students seemed to follow suit. Takara stared into space. She had messed up again. Why did everything have to be so complicated? She looked down and placed her hand on her forehead.

“Are you all right?” Takara heard a voice ask softly.

She looked up startled. She blinked a few times then realized that the voice was coming from one of her classmates online. It was that boy that seemed to know her.

“Yes. Thank—thank you.” Takara stammered.

She looked off to the side and tried to think of something else to say.

“No problem.” the boy noted.

Takara looked back at his picture and smiled slightly.

“Are you from Grove Academy?” Takara found herself asking.

“Oh, yeah. Right.”

“And your name is Kenji, right?”

“Yeah. And yours is Takara.”

Takara smiled again. She felt herself relax a little.

“Thank you for what you said before.” Takara told him. “It’s as though I don’t know what to say anymore.”

Takara bit her lip slightly. She worried she was admitting that she wasn’t normal like everyone else, and that he would reject her because of it.

“Yeah, I hear you. I feel that way all the time with my parents.”

Kenji grinned; then, so did Takara. Something about Kenji seemed to put her at ease.

“I didn’t mean to offend the teacher.” Takara lamented.

“Yeah, who knows what that was about. I bet everyone was thinking the same thing you were only no one but you had the nerve to ask. I mean, if all we end up doing is sitting around talking about our weekly reading assignments — that could get pretty boring.”

“Yes.” Takara admitted. “I suppose you’re right.”

She smiled again; then, she sighed. Suddenly, someone began to open her bedroom door. The person paused when the door was about an inch open. Takara heard the person’s voice and recognized it as Patty’s. Patty seemed to be talking to someone in the hall. Takara panicked as she remembered where she was and under what circumstances.

“Takara?” Kenji uttered, recalling her attention.

Takara bit her lip again as she turned from the hallway toward the computer screen.

“I have to go now.” Takara returned sullenly.

“Sure.”

“It’s not like …”

“Hey, I get it. Don’t worry.”

Kenji smiled. Takara managed to smile as well. Then, she swallowed as she reached forward and pressed the button to turn off the computer. Turning off the computer had been a hard thing to do. Kenji was so genuine; it felt as though he was a lifeline for her. She was sure he and her father would have gotten along. They had a similar sense of humor. Takara managed to smile slightly. Then, she prepared herself to handle the inevitable onslaught of negativity and disapproval.

“I thought you’d have been off by now.” Patty remarked in an accusatory tone.

Takara decided to just look at her without saying anything. After all, she couldn’t afford to tell her the truth, and yet she also didn’t want to lie. Eventually, Patty went about her business. Still, Takara could tell the precedent had been set. It was seemingly okay for the others here to be rude to her. And Takara couldn’t help but wonder how they would react if they found out about the question she had asked Miss Harrington. Chances were Takara could expect a poor response. Well, at least she had one possible friend now. She just had to find a way to maintain that connection.

 

***

 

It didn’t take all that long before the fear that Takara felt after her run-in with Mr. Tyler to begin to fade. And it was strange to think of it, but Takara found herself waiting for the sun to go down again. It was as though a tension would finally release. True, she couldn’t spend too much time walking the halls; Patty always came for her at around the same time in the early morning hours without fail. There would be too many questions if she slept in too late. Yet, these few hours free from the microscope of scrutiny were freeing. Part of her felt there could possibly be a camera installed in the halls, but Takara didn’t see one. And if there were one there, she’d just be seen wandering around. And, after all, she didn’t go toward anything with locks on it anymore. Still, there was always a chance they would tell her to stop or restrict her freedom further by possibly locking her in her room. But she couldn’t think of that. She needed these excursions to stay sane, so she took them. The consequences, should they come, were a problem for another day. But why should they come? She wasn’t harming anyone with her walks. And with every other step she took, she could feel her father’s key securely placed within her shoe.

Fortunately, no one said a thing about Takara’s question to Miss Harrington … day after day. Takara was glad. And certainly, soon enough, the class would have another field trip, and she would be able to contact her mother — only it didn’t happen.

For some reason, Miss Harrington never brought up the subject, and Takara was too afraid to ask again. She figured she’d been fortunate there had been no repercussions the last time she ventured to ask, and she didn’t want to risk a backlash now. Still, every day this sliver of panic began to grow inside of Takara. It was hard for her not to become despondent. Then, finally, someone else apparently could not stand the strain any longer and came out with the question Takara had uttered weeks earlier.

“Miss Harrington?”

“Yes, Erik?”

“When are we going to go back to the Virtual Reality Gaming Complex?”

Once again, there was silence. At least now Takara knew Miss Harrington’s negative reaction when Takara had asked about the arcade previously hadn’t been personal. And yet, Miss Harrington had seemed so excited about the virtual reality arcade in the beginning. Could it be that the large robot had scared her this much? Was she having trouble leaving her house? Actually, why would she think any one place would be safer than another? As far as Takara knew from the conversations she had heard the other students having before class, there was no new information about the cause or reason for the incident. Who knew how long it would be before there were answers?

“I guess we’ll have to do that again, won’t we?” Miss Harrington murmured.

Again there was silence. Takara got the feeling the rest of the students were in agreement with the teacher’s statement. While no one jumped in to say “yes,” no one seemed to disagree with her either. Then again, maybe Takara was the only one who felt pressure to make Miss Harrington feel better. Miss Harrington sighed.

“Okay. I have to check into something.” Miss Harrington looked down. “I’ll give you the date next time.”

When Miss Harrington logged off, Takara could hear some of the other students groan before logging off as well.

It had become part of her normal routine for Takara to linger on after the class ended for a few minutes. Kenji would as well. Takara ended up having to abruptly log off not long after when Patty would enter the room. The first time it happened, Takara worried what Kenji’s reaction would be. Would he think her odd or even mean? The next time she spoke with him, he didn’t even bring it up. And then, when it happened over and over again, he didn’t question it. If he wondered what was going on, it certainly didn’t bother him enough to ask. Takara appreciated how normal he was with her. Nothing seemed to particularly faze him. And it made Takara feel comfortable. Not to mention, it gave her something other than her nighttime walks to look forward to in her everyday routine.

“So, how are you today?” Kenji asked with a smile on his face.

At first, Takara began to smile; then, seconds later, her smile broke. She considered. She could hear him breathe into the microphone. She looked up at his image.

“Sounds as though we might get another chance to go to the arcade. Then again, it’s not as though we couldn’t go anytime we wanted to, right?” he asked.

Takara looked off to the side. Her brow furrowed slightly. Then, she thought of something. At that moment, she thought about things not as a captive at the Institute but as an ordinary school girl — anxious about not being prepared for an assignment. She let her guard down as a result.

“Do you think other people will have that advantage?” she asked him. “Do you think going in on our own time is expected as part of the course?”

Kenji considered for a moment. Something appeared to be troubling him.

“I mean, is that why we haven’t had a Friday field trip since?”

“No.” Kenji stated. “Just … can you wait a second … I have notes from the first class.”

“All right.” Takara then realized that she didn’t have much time to wait. She was concerned that she would have to log off quickly while Kenji was reviewing his notes.

“Kenji …”

“Hang on just a second, Takara.”

Takara turned an anxious glance toward the door. She could hear heels clapping in the hallway.

“And … no, there’s nothing like that!” Kenji declared.

“Thanks. I’ve got to go.”

“I know.” he acknowledged.

Takara’s screen went blank. Kenji just stared at his screen. He found his heart was beating faster. It was as though he and Takara had just pulled off some sort of life and death mission rather than simply exchanging information for a course. As Kenji’s heart rate returned to normal, a sense of foreboding overcame him. He had been concerned that something strange was happening around Takara; now, he was positive of it. There was something troubling going on with her living situation. For the first time in the string of times she’d had to log off suddenly, he was able to actually feel her fear. No, something was definitely wrong. The problem was Kenji had no clue what to do about it.

“Kenji, breakfast is ready!” his mother called out.

Kenji wished he could tell his parents his concerns, but what could they do? Somehow, he guessed it was more than they’d be capable of handling. And what was more, he felt as though they could be in danger if they tried. Kenji bit his lip. No, he’d have to give this one some thought on his own — at least until he was able to see Takara again.

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2019

Nocturne’s Reaping® : Intermezzo

Chapter 8

“I’m here!” Kenji announced upon his arrival. He took off his shoes near the door and placed his bag on a hook. He did these things without being asked to. The fact was that his parents were more likely to leave their things strewn about than he was. It was kind of an odd experience growing up after he realized his parents were … unique. Other parents had rules, but his didn’t seem to have any. Kenji could have taken advantage of that, but they were his parents and he loved them — even if they did embarrass him every chance they got.

“Kenji! We’re in here!” his mother announced.

Kenji walked into the living room and saw his parents watching the news coverage of that large robot.

“Wow!” his father noted.

The news coverage went off.

“Oh, no!” Kenji’s mom exclaimed. “We forgot to make Kenji a copy!”

“No worries.” his dad responded. “It will be on again in a half hour.”

Kenji’s mom sighed in relief.

“Wait a minute! You were in that neighborhood weren’t you, Kenji?” his mom asked suddenly.

Kenji was shocked by this sudden concern.

“Yes, I was.” he answered.

“Lucky!” his dad cried out. “Good thing we allowed you to miss your other school, so you could attend that trip, huh? Not every parent would have done that! Come, sit here and tell us about it. Was it as big as it was on the TV?”

Kenji sighed then did as his parents requested. Kenji ended up having to retell the tale a couple of times. Then, Kenji asked, “Did they find out where it came from?”

“No.” his father responded slowly. “It hid somewhere it seems.”

“More likely whoever owns it called it back.” Kenji pointed out.

“I wonder whether it was controlled remotely or was programmed to do that.” his mom mentioned.

“Well, whichever it is, I doubt the person responsible will come forward. Can you imagine the fines? Then again, you’d have to have deep pockets to build something like that.” his father added.

“Well, either way, it’s time to eat.” his mother concluded. “We waited for you, Kenji.”

“Thank you.” Kenji replied with a smile.

After dinner Kenji logged on to his computer and went to the course group page. There, they were still talking about their experience on the bus with the robot. The topic held some interest for him. Yet, it was something else that seemed to be attracting most of his thoughts these days. His eyes caught sight of Takara’s name almost instantly. She seemed to be logged on, and yet she didn’t say anything. The window which should have housed her picture was also blank. Kenji leaned his face on his hand. He wondered how long it would be until he saw her again.

 

***

 

Takara hadn’t wanted to ask the question. She sat there staring at the screen hoping somebody else would, but they never did. It was disappointing that there didn’t appear to be any new information on what had happened with the robot after it passed by the bus. Still, if Takara had learned anything from her recent past it was to bide her time and to not take unnecessary risks. The information simply wasn’t important enough for her to risk her interest in it getting back to Mr. Tyler. She logged off.

As Takara lay on her bed, she heard the last of the staff shuffle around the halls. Patty came by a lot less frequently now. She mainly came just to give Takara her medication and food. Takara had to admit on difficult days she wondered whether she should even take her medication. But it always looked like the same medication she had taken at the hospital, so she took it. As the lights dimmed out in the hall, Takara knew that the employees had left the wing. Takara breathed a sigh of relief. Usually, Takara tried to sleep at this time. That night, however, Takara was too alert to sleep. Takara slid to the edge of her bed and considered.

Takara hadn’t tried to enter her father’s office since she found the door locked. Maybe it was the fact that she’d been given the opportunity to leave the Institute, but she found herself more empowered than before. She slipped her feet onto the floor and went to the door.

A pervasive silence filled the passageways. Slowly, Takara tried the knob. Then, she slipped out into the hall. Only the dim security lights were on. Takara carefully shut her door. She held her breath and listened. She walked forward, careful of each footfall. Takara paused at her father’s office door. She reached out and touched the knob; then, she hesitated. It was probably still locked, she told herself. How Takara wished she had taken all of his papers from his room when she had had the chance! She felt almost certain that some of those papers contained information about the robot. She decided she might as well try the door since she was there. She really didn’t believe anything would come of it. She told herself that, though it would be a disappointment that she couldn’t get into the office, her decision to leave her room needn’t be in vain. She could always go down to the atrium and sit for a while. Perhaps, she could even get the TV to turn on and watch some coverage of the robot.

Takara was shocked when the door slid open. She froze; her brow furrowed. How could this be? Why would Mr. Tyler leave the room unlocked? Was there some way he could be monitoring the room? Takara turned on the light switch and peered inside the room trying to see whether she could see a camera pointed at her. There was nothing obvious she could see. Still, how could this not be a trap? Unless … could Mr. Tyler have come back to the room and forgotten to lock the door? Regardless, how could Takara miss this opportunity? She released the doorknob quickly and stepped inside. She then secured the door behind her.

Everything in the room seemed just as it had the last time she was there, and yet there was a feeling in the air as though the room had somehow been violated. Then again, maybe it was just Takara’s imagination. Takara stepped toward her father’s desk. She placed her hands on the leather of his chair and felt it with her hands. She smiled to herself when she remembered the time she had first been capable of reaching the top of the chair — with a little help from her father at least. Takara’s eyes began to water, and then the tears started to flow. Takara quickly wiped them from her eyes. As she looked down, she noticed something was amiss. There was a scratch around the lock on the desk drawer. Takara placed her finger on the metal of the lock, feeling the subtle grooves as her finger passed by them. It was almost as though Takara doubted her own senses. No one had ever accused her of being out of touch with reality, but still no one around here now exactly trusted her either. It was as though she had internalized their criticism to such an extent that she could almost hear what they would say. What was she doing in her father’s office? What was she up to? What trouble was she trying to cause?

Still, what was real about this whole situation was staring her right in the face. Yes, someone may be up to something, but it wasn’t her. Someone had broken into her father’s desk and possibly that was why the door to the room had been left open. Whatever had been deemed important in here was already gone … Takara froze at that thought. Moments later, she pulled at the drawer. Takara remembered how her father used to stuff things he was working on into this drawer. Once whatever it was had been completed, it would be filed in the official files of the company. Takara could remember clearly that right before the New Year’s Eve party the drawer had been nearly overflowing with papers. At that moment, as Takara stared down in disbelief, she found there was nothing left.

Takara felt weak. She took a few steps backward then sat in her father’s chair. At least the chair was still here, she thought. She looked toward the door, the door she saw Mr. Tyler enter the last time she was here. He never did say why he came in here that day. It wasn’t to find her; that’s for sure. The look of shock on his face when he saw her here was telling. No, he never did say why he came, but now it seemed obvious what the reason had been. Takara concluded that she wouldn’t have to wonder anymore.

Takara did find something in the room that had been overlooked. Her father had left a key to his main office in one boot he had. When questioned about his choice of location for the key, he would laugh and say, “It would be the last place anyone would look since who would want to root around in a crusty old boot?” Still, despite having to do just that, Takara felt relieved when she successfully pulled out the key. Far away at that moment, farther down the hall, Takara could hear something that sounded like a door slamming shut. Takara instantly went for the lights. She hesitated as she considered whether or not to remain in the room. Seconds later, she concluded that staying here was too much of a risk. After all, it was probably Mr. Tyler, and this was the place he headed for the last time.

Takara opened the door as quickly yet carefully as possible. Still, she didn’t feel she had the time to make it down the long hallway without being seen, so she dashed straight across the hall and into the bathroom. The bathroom was like the one she used to have at school. It was built that way before the Institute decided to convert this wing into Takara’s father’s living quarters. The bathroom had more than one stall and more than one sink. There was one shower off in the corner of the room; that had been added later. Takara and her father had made plans to redesign the bathroom, but they never got around to it.

Takara decided to head for one of those stalls now. There was no window in the room, and Takara feared turning on the light. So, the room remained dark, and she had to go by memory as well as feel to find her way to the stall.

She finally found a stall then hid behind its door. Takara believed she would just need to wait it out. She could hear the door across the hall open and then close soon after. Takara could then hear the footsteps recede. Only Takara thought something seemed odd about it somehow; Takara stepped outside of the confines of the stall and closer to the door. She strained to hear something outside. She didn’t sense anyone was on the other side of the door. Yet, when she suddenly heard her name being called she shivered. It dawned on her where he was. He had gone to her room to look for her. Perhaps, he had heard her walking or seen the office light shine from underneath the door while he was still down the hall. Either way, he was now calling out to her in a taunting way.

Takara froze. If she let him find her hiding, it would be worse. Then again, she thought of where she was. A plan formed in her mind; it could work if she had the courage to pull it off. She couldn’t let Mr. Tyler think she’d been hiding; she knew that much. Slowly, Takara reached out toward where she knew the light switch was. It was a risk to turn the light on as Mr. Tyler could have noticed the light was off before; still, it was necessary to turn on the light for the illusion to work. Takara then pulled the bathroom door open without hesitation. Instantly, she came face to face with Mr. Tyler.

Takara fought the urge to shrink away; instead, she just uttered, “Yes?”

She could see Mr. Tyler appear to relax. Apparently, he hadn’t noticed the light suddenly come on from underneath the bathroom door.

Mr. Tyler just looked at her for a moment; then, he looked between her and her father’s office door. It occurred to Takara that he had some knowledge that she had breached the doorway to the office. Yet, apparently, he seemed to have no proof she had actually been in there. It was almost as though he was trying to figure out whether Takara could have triggered the alarm — or whatever it was that had alerted him — by simply going to the bathroom across the hall. Takara just waited while he considered. She was afraid if she spoke he would react negatively. Just as she had hoped, he became less and less agitated as time passed.

“Shouldn’t you be in bed?” he finally asked her.

Takara considered. What was the right way to answer that?

“Yes?” she stammered.

Mr. Tyler seemed pleased that she was taking her cue from him. Then again, seconds later he became annoyed.

“Well, get there!” he barked.

Takara was relieved and quickly headed toward her room. It seemed unlikely Mr. Tyler would suddenly find fault with her departure given he had ordered it. And then, when she got back to her room, she found she had never been more relieved than when she felt the door click and was able to lock the door behind her. As happy as she was to be temporarily out of that situation, the whole experience unnerved her. The level of animosity Mr. Tyler seemed to have towards her had become obvious. Takara’s eyes shifted.

Why did he hate her so much? She found she didn’t want to be at the Institute anymore. If she were given a decent alternative, she would take it. She didn’t want to be dependent on this person who clearly couldn’t stand her. She didn’t see how this situation could possibly be tenable for the next five years until she was able to legally leave it. She just had to get word to her mother … she just had to. Of course, she had to once again block any nagging thoughts as to why no one had mentioned contacting her mother for her. At first, she had waited for someone to bring the subject up; she had assumed someone around here eventually would. While it stood to reason that there would be custody and estate issues to work out, they would have had to have figured out she had a mother by now. However, things had changed since then. Takara no longer had any trust in anyone around the Institute and felt as though mentioning her mother now would just tip them off to the fact she was planning to make contact.

Of course, the letter to her mother wasn’t the only thing she’d have to hide now — now there was her father’s key. She found she had mixed feelings about having it. After all, this was another way she could get into trouble. Yet, if Takara found she needed her father’s key for some reason at least now she had it. Takara looked at the key in the moonlight and wondered whether it would turn out to be worth the risk. She could always destroy the letter and then rewrite it when the opportunity presented itself. That would carry its own risk, but even still it could be done. But this key … she couldn’t just rip it up. Takara decided to do what her father had done. She went to her bedside and felt for her shoes. Since her shoes were smaller than his boots, Takara decided to do more to hide the key. She pulled at the insole of one shoe and slipped the key under it. There was a chance she’d get some sort of blister from placing the key there, but Takara was determined not to let any discomfort show.

One thing was for sure; there was no going back to her father’s office again. In fact, Takara, at least for that night, was afraid to even go down to the bathroom.

When Takara awoke the next morning, she could hear construction noise in the hall. It woke her up fairly early in the morning. Takara sat up, feeling annoyed; still, she knew she wasn’t allowed to be annoyed. So, Takara carefully crept out into the hall. There, she was surprised to find maintenance workers adding locks to her father’s office door — on the weekend no less. One of the men then came forward and handed off a key to Mr. Tyler, who was standing off to the side. Mr. Tyler looked at Takara squarely from afar; he seemed to be watching for a reaction. Takara was determined not to give him one … or at least as little of one as possible. She tried to look uninterested as she returned to her room. Well, at least at this point they weren’t locking her in her room. Takara sat on her bed and waited anxiously. Maybe Mr. Tyler would, in fact, restrict her to her room. That would require her to have an escort on hand all day every day to let her out when needed. She couldn’t be forced to stay in her room forever, she told herself. Surely that would be more than Mr. Tyler was willing to do just to keep her contained. Fortunately, the sounds of the men stopped, and she heard no footsteps approaching her room either. Takara lay on her bed and sighed. Things could in fact get worse, she concluded. How far would Mr. Tyler take things?

As time passed, Takara got to wondering whether there were any announcements about the next field trip. She couldn’t wait until she got out again and had the chance to contact her mother. Unfortunately, when she reached her class page she found there were no announcements. She logged off. She had a feeling it was going to be a long day. Takara spent most of that day reading. It allowed her to look busy. She hoped anyone who came into her room would leave her alone. Fortunately, Patty was her only visitor, and she was as unfriendly as she had been. Right after Patty left the room, Takara stared at the ceiling and imagined being far away with her mother. She just had to reach her … she just had to.

It was strange, but Takara felt a certain relief when the night descended. All the noise was gone, and she could pretend the wing was hers again. She opened the door to her room and peered out. Ironically, the locked door had empowered her. It was almost a license to go anywhere other than her father’s office. That room was clearly off-limits, so anywhere that wasn’t locked was fair game; it felt like tacit permission. That night Takara decided to walk around the halls then visit the atrium again. She knew she had to get physically stronger, so when an opportunity to further her escape came she could seize upon it.

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2019

Exodus 8

And the LORD spake unto Moses, “Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, ‘Thus saith the LORD, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.

“And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs:

“And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneadingtroughs:

“And the frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants.” ’ ”

And the LORD spake unto Moses, “Say unto Aaron, ‘Stretch forth thine hand with thy rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt.’ ”

And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt.

And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt.

Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Intreat the LORD, that He may take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may do sacrifice unto the LORD.

And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Glory over me: when shall I intreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, to destroy the frogs from thee and thy houses, that they may remain in the river only?

And he said, To morrow. And he said, Be it according to thy word: that thou mayest know that there is none like unto the LORD our God.

And the frogs shall depart from thee, and from thy houses, and from thy servants, and from thy people; they shall remain in the river only.

And Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh: and Moses cried unto the LORD because of the frogs which He had brought against Pharaoh.

And the LORD did according to the word of Moses; and the frogs died out of the houses, out of the villages, and out of the fields.

And they gathered them together upon heaps: and the land stank.

But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.

And the LORD said unto Moses, “Say unto Aaron, ‘Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the land, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.’ ”

And they did so; for Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and it became lice in man, and in beast; all the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt.

And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: so there were lice upon man, and upon beast.

Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.

And the LORD said unto Moses, “Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, ‘Thus saith the LORD, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.

“‘“Else, if thou wilt not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon there are.

“‘“And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth.

“‘“And I will put a division between My people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be.” ’ ”

And the LORD did so; and there came a grievous swarm of flies into the house of Pharaoh, and into his servants’ houses, and into all the land of Egypt: the land was corrupted by reason of the swarm of flies.

And Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land.

And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God: lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us?

We will go three days’ journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to the LORD our God, as He shall command us.

And Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away: intreat for me.

And Moses said, Behold, I go out from thee, and I will intreat the LORD that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, to morrow: but let not Pharaoh deal deceitfully any more in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the LORD.

And Moses went out from Pharaoh, and intreated the LORD.

And the LORD did according to the word of Moses; and He removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; there remained not one.

And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go (Exodus 8: 1-32).

Isaiah 21

The burden of the desert of the sea. As whirlwinds in the south pass through; so it cometh from the desert, from a terrible land.

A grievous vision is declared unto me; the treacherous dealer dealeth treacherously, and the spoiler spoileth. Go up, O Elam: besiege, O Media; all the sighing thereof have I made to cease.

Therefore are my loins filled with pain: pangs have taken hold upon me, as the pangs of a woman that travaileth: I was bowed down at the hearing of it; I was dismayed at the seeing of it.

My heart panted, fearfulness affrighted me: the night of my pleasure hath He turned into fear unto me.

Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield.

For thus hath the Lord said unto me, “Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.”

And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; and he hearkened diligently with much heed:

And he cried, A lion [Or, cried as a lion]: My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights:

And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods He hath broken unto the ground.

O my threshing, and the corn of my floor: that which I have heard of the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have I declared unto you.

The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?

The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come.

The burden upon Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye travelling companies of Dedanim.

The inhabitants of the land of Tema brought [Or, bring ye] water to him that was thirsty, they prevented with their bread him that fled.

For they fled from [Or, for fear] the swords, from the drawn sword, and from the bent bow, and from the grievousness of war.

For thus hath the Lord said unto me, “Within a year, according to the years of a hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall fail:

“And the residue of the number of archers, the mighty men of the children of Kedar, shall be diminished: for the LORD God of Israel hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 21: 1-17)

Mark 9

And He said unto them, “Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.”

And after six days Jesus taketh with Him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and He was transfigured before them.

And His raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.

And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.

And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid.

And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son: hear Him.”

And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves.

And as they came down from the mountain, He charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of Man were risen from the dead.

And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean.

And they asked Him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come?

And He answered and told them, “Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of Man, that He must suffer many things, and be set at nought.

“But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.”

And when He came to His disciples, He saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them.

And straightway all the people, when they beheld Him, were greatly amazed, and running to Him saluted Him.

And He asked the scribes, “What question ye with them?”

And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto Thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit;

And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him [Or, dasheth him]: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to Thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.

He answereth him, and saith, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto Me.”

And they brought him unto Him: and when he saw Him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.

And He asked his father, “How long is it ago since this came unto him?” And he said, Of a child.

And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if Thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.

Jesus said unto him, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”

And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.

When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, “Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.”

And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead.

But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.

And when He was come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, Why could not we cast him out?

And He said unto them, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.”

And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and He would not that any man should know it.

For He taught His disciples, and said unto them, “The Son of Man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill Him; and after that He is killed, He shall rise the third day.”

But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask Him.

And He came to Capernaum: and being in the house He asked them, “What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?”

But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.

And He sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, “If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.”

And He took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when He had taken him in His arms, He said unto them,

“Whosoever shall receive one of such children in My name, receiveth Me: and whosoever shall receive Me, receiveth not Me, but Him that sent Me.”

And John answered Him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.

But Jesus said, “Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in My name, that can lightly speak evil of Me.

“For he that is not against us is on our part.

“For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in My name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.

“And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in Me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.

“And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

“Where ‘THEIR WORM DIETH NOT, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.’

“And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

“Where ‘THEIR WORM DIETH NOT, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.’

“And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:

“Where ‘THEIR WORM DIETH NOT, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.’

“For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.

“Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.” (Mark 9: 1-50)

Mark 8

In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples unto Him, and saith unto them,

“I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with Me three days, and have nothing to eat:

“And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far.”

And His disciples answered Him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?

And He asked them, “How many loaves have ye?” And they said, Seven.

And He commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and He took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to His disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people.

And they had a few small fishes: and He blessed, and commanded to set them also before them.

So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets.

And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and He sent them away.

And straightway He entered into a ship with His disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha.

And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with Him, seeking of Him a sign from heaven, tempting Him.

And He sighed deeply in His spirit, and saith, “Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.”

And He left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side.

Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf.

And He charged them, saying, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.”

And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread.

And when Jesus knew it, He saith unto them, “Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened?

“Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?

“When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up?” They say unto Him, Twelve.

“And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up?” And they said, Seven.

And He said unto them, “How is it that ye do not understand?”

And He cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto Him, and besought Him to touch him.

And He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when He had spit on his eyes, and put His hands upon him, He asked him if he saw ought.

And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.

After that He put His hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.

And He sent him away to his house, saying, “Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.”

And Jesus went out, and His disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way He asked His disciples, saying unto them, “Whom do men say that I am?”

And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets.

And He saith unto them, “But whom say ye that I am?” And Peter answereth and saith unto Him, Thou art the Christ.

And He charged them that they should tell no man of Him.

And He began to teach them, that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

And He spake that saying openly. And Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him.

But when He had turned about and looked on His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get thee behind Me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.”

And when He had called the people unto Him with His disciples also, He said unto them, “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

“Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

“Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8: 1-38)