Sealy slowly maneuvered her car down Elm Street.
"I wonder if this is a good idea?" Lately, she talked to herself a lot. Sealy's grip on the steering wheel tightened as a familiar truck came into view. "Why is Tanya here?" she muttered.
Sealy pulled her car over to the curb. Old-fashioned street lights illuminated the cobblestone walk leading to Pastor Tom's front door. She recognized her nemesis standing in the shadows, arms flailing with animation as she spewed venomous lies to the Pastor.
She considered her options. "I'm sure he won't listen to me now. I knew this was a waste of time. I'll just drive back to the library. It's open late on Thursdays." Her mind made up, Sealy continued down Elm Street toward town.
Back at the library, Sealy avoided Kelly Sue Crofton's curious glance. She ignored Madeline Stoddard's angry stare and shrugged off the resulting whispers. Seeking comfort among the history books, she leafed through a leather-bound volume of presidential speeches. The events of the day crowded Sealy's mind, making it impossible to focus on the book. She glanced up just in time to see Kelly Sue peeking around the corner.
Sealy's face flushed with anger. Hot tears stung her eyes. "Why would Tanya lie about me? What did I do to deserve this? I don't know which is worse -- Tanya's lies or the people who believe her lies."
Before long, Sealy gave up trying to read and left the library. The aroma of fresh-baked pastries lured her down the street toward Cooper's Cafe. Her mouth watered in anticipation of warm buttery pie crust stuffed with a mixture of cinnamon apples, raisins and pecans.
Sealy entered the cafe. A menu propped next to the door listed Thursday night's dinner special -- country fried steak served with mashed potatoes, brown gravy, hot rolls, and sweet tea -- only $5.99!
"Hi Sealy," Cooper called from the kitchen window. "Sure didn't expect to see you tonight. Last I heard you were leaving town."
Sealy frowned. "Who told you I was leaving town?"
Mrs. Thompson tossed a twenty-dollar bill on the counter, uttered something unintelligible, and quickly ushered her children out the door.
"Oh, I guess that answers my question." Sealy found an empty seat at the end of the counter. "Hey Cooper," Sealy quizzed, "do you think men gossip more than women?"
Cooper chuckled, "I hear it from all sides -- men, women, boys and girls -- seems to me that everyone's got something juicy to share."
Sealy pretended to scan the menu. "Do you believe everything you hear?"
Cooper placed a steaming plate of food in front of Sealy. "What are you talking about?"
Sealy forced a weak smile. "Come on, Cooper. Don't pretend like you haven't heard the chatter. Maybe I should leave town, go someplace where nobody knows me."
Cooper stopped wiping the counter. He sensed Sealy's pain. "You know, it's always better to confront lies with truth. Don't let another person's weakness ruin your life. Tanya's lies only have as much power as you give to them. If I were you, I would stop hiding and bring everything out into the open."
Sealy rolled her eyes. "If I tried to have a conversation with Tanya it would get real ugly. Anyway, she'd just twist my words into another round of gossip. I can't win for losing when it comes to her."
Cooper laughed. "Tanya may be a master at spinning lies, but you have a personal relationship with truth. You have nothing to fear."
Sealy considered his words. "Well, it's getting late. I'd better go now. Thanks for listening, Cooper. I'll give your suggestion some thought."
Sealy left the cafe, but did not walk toward her car. Instead, she crossed the street. She slipped into the sanctuary and sat in a back pew. Cooper's words resonated with her spirit. She bowed her head did a little talking of her own, but this time she talked to the Lord.
"Lord, it's me, Sealy. Did you know ..."
But I tell you that everyone will have to give account
on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.
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