Today was the day.
I was so excited!
Mom and Dad had been working on a super-secret project, but told me that today, March 25, was a very special day. They told me I didn’t need to bring anything, that everything I needed would be at our destination.
I sat in the back of the car, smiling as we passed the houses of my friends. One of my very best friends, Eve, was playing hopscotch in her driveway. I tried to roll down my window, but Dad hit the lock button and said, “Not now, daughter.”
With a harrumph, I turned back in my seat and watched quietly. My parents didn’t even have the radio on!
Still, nothing could stop the excitement at learning what this surprise was.
I loved surprises!
The car ride was really long though, and any time I asked if we were almost there, I was told that good girls stayed quiet. My mom didn’t do much talking, and my dad kept mumbling.
Almost like he was talking in riddles.
Finally, the car slowed down as we neared a big block wall with a huge iron gate. The gate slowly swung open when the front of the car nearly touched it. I watched out the back window as the gate slowly shut behind us, locking us into this strange fortress.
“Where are we?” I asked, but now, no one answered.
“Be quiet!” His words were terse; far rougher than he’d ever used before.
I swallowed hard and sat back in my seat.
Dad drove the car in front of a long white house. It had to be the longest house I’d ever seen.
He put the car in park and took out the keys, but before getting out, turned to the back and toward me.
“Okay, daughter. This is our new home. This is going to be the most wonderful place of your life, for today is the day that Gabriel told the Virgin Mary that she would become the mother of Jesus Christ. It is a wonderful day of new beginnings.”
I frowned. I knew who Gabriel was because of Sunday school, but what did any of that have to do with any of this?
“You will now only ever refer to me as Father Nathan.” I frowned. His name was Peter! “You may refer to your mother as Mother. No dad,” he said the name as if it tasted sour, “or mom… And you will now be known as Sister Mercy.”
But my name is Delilah! I couldn’t get the words out though, as Dad continued to talk.
“It’s a beautiful name, dear daughter. You are the daughter of God, and everyone who walks in through our gates and joins our mission will know that you are the protected one.”
“But what ab—”
Dad’s hand reached back and slapped me across the face before I even realized he was doing it. “You must never speak out of turn! Do you understand me?”
Tears filling my eyes, I was afraid to speak, so all I did was nod, otherwise frozen in place.
“’Yes, Father,’ you say.”
Sniffling, I nodded again. “O-okay. Y-yes, F-father.”
“Good girl.” His smile was demonic as he turned to squeeze Mom’s leg. “Let’s see our new home.”
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