“The hardest choice she ever had to make was between true religion and true love.”
Rose Gluck thought she had everything in life. Just out of high school, she spent her days working as a pioneer minister of her Jehovah’s Witness faith, going door-to-door teaching others about the Bible and the happifying future God had planned. She thought she knew what it meant to be happy, but things would change when Wyatt True shows up.
Drawn to the dashing young brother, Rose experiences feelings that she never knew existed. Meanwhile, despite his vow of singleness, Wyatt can’t but help to fall for the beautiful young sister. But the Presiding Overseer of the congregation has his own plans for Rose. Will Rose find eternal happiness?
The next morning Rose was dragging her feet getting ready for morning field service. She usually looked forward to Saturday service, but any joy had been sucked out. It would be her first time seeing the congregation after Jasper Green had publicly chastised her. How could she even face them, to make no mention of the Greens? She dreaded to think what would happen if she had to be in a car group with them like the last week.
As Rose listlessly pulled out a dress from her closet she glanced over to the secret box that held her mother’s things. Was she too quick to judge her mother for leaving the Truth? Rose never intended to look for trouble, but it sill had found her. Perhaps her mother too was misunderstood or the victim of circumstances beyond her control.
“Are you almost ready?” Rose’s grandmother called up to her.
“Yes, Grams!” Rose hastened to get ready, pulling on the dress. She couldn’t let her grandmother down. She had to show the congregation that she was still committed to Jehovah. Even if there was a slight chance that she could visit Brooklyn Bethel with Wyatt, Rose was determined not to ruin it.
When Rose arrived at the Kingdom Hall an hour later, she glanced over the cars in the parking lot. She felt weak inside when she glimpsed the Greens’s van parked right up front. The walk to the Kingdom Hall was torturous. How would the congregation treat her? She never appreciated how a disfellowshipped person like Daryl Jenkins might feel until that moment.
As she neared the door she observed that Clinton wasn’t there waiting for her. Rose had gotten so used to it that it was a welcomed surprise. Inside the Kingdom Hall, when Rose saw Clinton, he turned around walking the other direction, keeping an icy distance. Perhaps this wouldn’t be so bad after all.
Jasper Green made the arrangements for the morning placing Rose in his car group with his wife and Clinton. Rose could not disguise the worry that covered her face as she looked over at her grandmother. The old woman simply smiled and patted Rose gently on the knee, as if saying, you can do this. Rose wasn’t so certain, but she decided that if she would have any chance of convincing Jasper Green to give her the okay to go on the trip she would have to prove to him she was still an exemplary Christian.
As Jasper Green drove to their assigned territory there was no conversation. Rose looked over at Clinton who was turned looking toward the van window, even though it was covered with a shade. The chasm between them was immeasurable. Meanwhile, Rose busied herself by rearranging the contents of her book bag and reviewing her call address book.
At the territory, Jasper declared that he and Rose would work together, to which neither Betsy or Clinton protested. Rose meekly got out of the van and tried to steady her nerves. At the very least Jasper wouldn’t be able to yell at her while standing outside of someone’s door.
Walking down the sidewalk, Rose braced herself for the worst, but surprisingly Jasper didn’t tear into her. He just made the normal small talk asking her about what literature she was working with.
Rose knocked on the first door and was greeted by a frazzled woman balancing a screaming baby on her hip. “I’m sorry, I can see you are busy — ” Rose apologized, preparing to offer to call back another time.
However, Jasper cut her off. “My young friend Rose here has an important message she would like to share with you.”
The woman looked at Jasper and then at Rose expectantly while the baby continued to wail at full volume.
“I was — uh — just stopping by with the — uh — August first issue of the Watchtower — ” Rose nervously fumbled to pull the magazines out off her bag.
“Speak up Rose, she can’t hear you,” Jasper elevated his voice to be heard over the baby.
Rose looked at Jasper and then back at the woman. The woman rolled her eyes at Rose.
“The latest issue is about the last judgement. Have you ever wondered —“
“I’m not interested,” the woman said, cutting Rose off. The woman turned around to slam the door, but it bounced off of Jasper’s steel-toe shoe as he wedged it in the threshold. The woman froze with disbelief staring at Jasper’s foot.
“We have come here today with an important message that will save you and your child. You need to listen to this,” Jasper said, before turning back to Rose. “Go ahead and continue.”
Rose stammered through her presentation and then offered the magazine to the woman. The woman accepted it, the whole time staring down at Jasper’s foot in the threshold. The elder made no attempt to remove it.
“You’re probably wondering how our work is financed,” Jasper said. “Rose can explain that.”
Rose shrunk. She knew the only reason the woman had accepted the magazine was to get rid of her and now she must ask for money. “We accept voluntary donations,” Rose said weakly.
“I don’t have any money,” said the woman, holding the magazine out to Rose.
Rose was ready to accept the magazine and leave, but once again Jasper chimed in. “Oh no, that is yours since you’ll read it. Next week Rose can stop back by and see what you thought about it.” Jasper pulled his shoe back and the lady immediately shut the door with a sharp bang, followed by the clicks of the locks.
Jasper looked over at Rose, “Good job. We can call back on her next Saturday.”
Inside Rose shuddered, hoping that we didn’t mean that Jasper intended to work with her again the next Saturday as well.
If there was anything good about the rest of the block, it was that no one was home and Rose wasn’t subjected to having to talk to a disgruntled householder with Jasper’s size eleven shoved in the door. Between the houses Jasper continued to talk about everything but her and Clinton. His apparent lack of interest on the subject lured Rose into a false sense of comfort until she went to knock on the last house on the block.
“Where is your engagement ring?” Jasper asked.
Rose swallowed hard, recoiling her hand still clenched in a fist from knocking. “At home.”
“Does this mean you’ve made up your mind about Clinton?”
“I don’t know,” said Rose. “Maybe I should just serve Jehovah as a single sister right now.” She hoped to satisfy the elder by putting a spiritual slant to her cold feet.
“Don’t be silly Rose. That’s fine for a brother, but as a sister there is only so far in Jehovah’s organization that you can go without a husband.” Again no one answered the door and so the two walked back to the street corner while Jasper continued to lecture her. “Things can be really tough in the organization for a single sister. Really if you don’t keep this engagement I have a feeling that things are going to get really hard for you in the congregation. You’re grandmother already lost your mother, it would be a shame if she didn’t have you.” His cold words made for a less-than-veiled threat. Did he intend to disfellowship her?
As the two reached the end of the block, Jasper said that they would switch partners, placing Rose with Clinton. In doing so he didn’t suggest that the two couples work house over house, to keep Clinton and Rose in view, as he had the last Saturday. He probably didn’t mind them getting closer.
At the first door on the next block, Rose waited for Clinton to give some direction, but he was withdrawn. When he made no move to take the door, Rose stepped up and knocked. Because no one was home they moved to the next one where again Clinton made no effort to step forward. When Rose looked over at him, Clinton turned around to idly stare at a bird bath. He was never really enthusiastic when it came to the field ministry, but Rose couldn’t help but to feel that his disinterest was because of her.
“Clinton, did you want to try this one?” Rose encouraged, trying to sound chipper.
“Where is my ring?” asked Clinton cooly, turning back to her.
“I left it at home,” said Rose.
“I had to use the money I was saving up for a Neo Geo game system to buy it.”
“I had no idea.” It dawned on Rose that she didn’t appreciate the sacrifice that Clinton had made. Video games were his world; to hear that he had used his money to buy her a ring instead was touching in a strange way. “I can give you the ring back, maybe you can return it or sell it or something.”
“Or maybe I could keep it for a girl who will love me,” Clinton snapped at her.
Rose had no idea how to reply and so she turned to knock on the door. “I’ll take this one,” she said.
“I’m going to be appointed as an elder,” said Clinton. “No one is supposed to know until it is announced, but I just thought you should know.”
For the rest of the block, the two didn’t speak. Rose took all of the doors and talked at a couple of them, but was unable to place any literature. As they reached the end of the street, Jasper and Betsy had already finished and pulled up with their big van.
When they got into the van, Jasper immediately turned around and looked at Clinton and Rose expectantly. Clinton shook his head and hung it low. Jasper sneered at Rose. “Well I hope you are satisfied SISTER Gluck. Once word gets around that you are a little tease that does not keep promises, what brother will want you? You’ll be outside in the world just like your mother.” Jasper came unglued and continued to hurl insults at her, saying that she was going to die in Armageddon.
Rose looked over with pleading eyes toward Betsy, hoping that she might restrain her angry husband. However, Betsy, simply glared with a satisfied smile. With nowhere else to turn, Rose said a desperate, silent prayer to God asking that he would deliver her.
“Stop it!” a loud voice called out.
It took a second for Rose to register who dared to speak up.
“What did you say Clinton?” Jasper yelled.
“I said stop it. Rose is a good sister,” Clinton said firmly.
“Oh you think so,” said Jasper sarcastically as he reached down to unbuckle his seatbelt. Jasper was halfway out of his seat moving toward Clinton with his hand raised to strike when Betsy stopped him. Jasper swung his head back at Betsy, who looked up at him, fear filling her eyes. Jasper brushed her hand off and sat back down in the driver’s seat, quickly shifting the van into gear and spinning the wheels on the loose gravel as he pulled out. “Field service is over for the day,” he declared. “Rose when you say your prayers tonight you can explain to Jehovah how your disruption was more important than finding sheeplike ones. If we missed anyone today their lives are on you.”
Nothing more was said on the short drive back to the Kingdom Hall. When they arrived, Jasper didn’t bother to pull into the parking lot, but simply pulled up to the sidewalk for Rose to exit. As she stepped out of the van she looked back at Clinton, who gave her a small, reassuring smile.
Rose looked at her watch as the van pulled away. It was only eleven and still an hour before the rest of the car groups would be returning to the Kingdom Hall. She couldn’t go in because her Kingdom Hall key was on the station wagon key ring. Rose took a seat down on the front window ledge and waited. Locked outside — it described how she was feeling inside. She felt like an outsider to everything she had hoped for and believed in. Was Jasper right about her? Was she just like her mother? Had Jehovah turned his back on her?
Rose shook her head. It couldn’t be. God had answered her prayer in the van, when Clinton spoke up on her behalf. He must care about her. And so, Rose bowed her head and poured her heart out to God. She asked that she might find real happiness and though it would take a miracle, she prayed that Jehovah would make a way for her to go on the Bethel trip.