Theo forced herself to put her work aside on Sunday. She and Ann took Stacy and Bethany to church, then went out to eat after the morning service.
Church and Sunday dinner were part of their weekly ritual, and Theo found that the hours of worship and fellowship calmed her nerves and her fears. After spending several hours in the library on Saturday, she’d lain awake most of the night and worried that she wouldn’t get the book done on time, that it wouldn’t be any good, that Janet Fischer would discover her mistake and swear to hate the female Theo Russell until her dying day. But the pastor’s sermon took her mind off the book, the congregational singing lifted her spirits, and the words of her favorite Scripture kept circling through her mind: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Please, God, be the strength of my heart, she prayed, watching Stacy and Bethany exchange silly secrets at the table. Help me get this book done, and whatever challenges lie ahead, help me meet them.
Usually such a prayer brought her a sense of peace, but this time she felt an odd emptiness. She tried to shake off her melancholy, reminding herself that her enthusiasm for the project had not dimmed in the tedious reality of research. She knew that in this effort she would win or lose everything she had gambled in three years. If she sold the book, she would be a writer. If she failed, God would have dramatically shown her that she’d chosen the wrong field. She’d have no choice but to put Stacy in daycare and take a temporary job while she waited to see wait to see what else God had in mind for her future.
Maybe she should move to Jacksonville, to be near Janette and John. But Theo had grown up in the District, every childhood and high school memory centered on some marble national monument. Her parents—and Matt—were buried within ten miles of the hospital where she’d been born. Janette was the one who moved away, and John had a wealth of relatives in Florida. If she and Stacy uprooted and left everything to move to Jacksonville, they might be more a burden than a blessing.
“Wake up, Theo,” Ann called from across the table. The corners of her eyes crinkled as she smiled. “Your dinner’s getting cold, and seven ninety-five is a lot to pay for a plate of cold spaghetti.”
“Eat, Mama,” Stacy urged, screwing her precious face into an expression of pained concern.
Theo laughed and picked up her fork. “OK, OK,” she said, twirling the spaghetti, “I’m eating.”