I was nervous to post this and was prepared to just leave it on my stick drive for all time and never share it. I didn't want people to think I was shoving religion down their throats, but the Greene family is a religious one - no hiding that on the show - so Beth is a religious character and this idea was in my head and I just wanted to share it.
"All this took place to fulfill with the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will him Immanuel' – which means 'God with us'."
Beth Greene smiles as she looks at the twelve children sitting on the floor in front of her, ranging from ages four to six. They are all listening. She closes the book and rests it in her lap.
"Think about a time someone made a promise to you and kept that promise," Beth continues. "When we're all honest and keep our promises to one another, we feel closer to our friends and family. We feel good. We know we can trust them to do what they say and not disappoint us, and they know the same about us. That's how God wants us to trust him. God wants us to read the Bible and see all the ways he's kept his promises to us. Jesus fulfilled God's promise."
Beth pauses, smiling at them.
"So today, before we leave one another for another week, how about we make promise cards? We'll go back to our tables and on construction paper, we write down one promise. God promised to be with you. Think of a promise you can make to someone that will help that person. This promise can be to someone in your family or to a friend. I want you to write "Dear" and the person's name and your promise to them. How does that sound?"
"Yay!" Most of the kids eagerly agree and Beth laughs as they all stand up from the carpet and hurry back to their tables where Beth has already placed construction paper and buckets of markers on each one.
She shows them how to fold the construction paper like a card and then all of the kids get to work.
Beth smiles as she walks around the tables, keeping an eye on what the children are doing, sometimes reading the promises they are making.
Trevor is promising his best friend that he'll always share his box of Cracker Jacks with him. Natalie is promising her mommy that she promises to put her clothes into the hamper each night after she changes into her pajamas.
"I like that one, Natalie," Beth smiles at the little girl and the girl beams in response.
Millie Dixon is sitting in her usual chair at the end of the table and is bent over her piece of paper, the tip of her tongue stuck out at the corner of her mouth as if in deep thought.
Beth can't help, but stop and see what she is writing.
In green marker, in her childish scrawl, she has written "I promise to thank my uncle every week" and then has begun to decorate the rest of the card in things she can't identify.
"That's a wonderful promise to make, Millie," Beth says and Millie lifts her head to smile at her.
"Uncle Daryl takes me every Saturday to see my daddy and I don't thank him," Millie says. "I want to start thankin' him 'cause it's a really far drive, but he always takes me."
"I'm sure your uncle likes seeing your daddy, too," Beth thinks and Millie nods.
"They fight sometimes, but Uncle Daryl always takes me no matter what."
Beth keeps smiling and she nods.
It's a small Southern town and everyone knows that Millie Dixon's daddy, Merle Dixon, had been in prison for six years now – all of Millie's life, getting sentenced and locked up before she was even born – and her mom, Jenny, works all hours at the diner and Daryl Dixon, Merle's younger brother, has stepped into the role as father for his niece.
He's the one who drops her off for Sunday school each week and picks her up again.
"And what are these?" Beth asks, pointing to the various black objects drawn around her words.
"Motorcycles," Millie states, still smiling. "Uncle Daryl loves motorcycles."
Daryl Dixon definitely does love motorcycles.
He picks his niece up each week on one, rumbling into the back parking lot behind the church and waiting there idly. The other children, their parents are in service and they come to pick their children up before heading to their vehicles in the front lot, but in the two years Millie has been attending Sunday school with Beth, Daryl has never attended Sunday service.
Beth admits that sometimes, she'll stand in the back door and watch Millie go when her Uncle Daryl arrives and Beth tells herself that she is only making sure that Millie gets to him alright.
It's not because Daryl Dixon is a ridiculously handsome man in that way that people don't realize at first.
But Beth has always realized.
The first time she saw him, two years earlier when Millie was four and first stepped into her Sunday school classroom, her hand tucked into her uncle's, it felt like her heart had thrown up right then and there in her chest when her eyes met with his.
Millie had been a shy girl then, practically hiding behind Daryl's thigh and not letting go of his hand.
"'s was her mom's idea to sign her up," Daryl had felt the need to explain. "Jenny's the kind who believes in all this stuff."
Beth just looked at him and she then saw his ears turn pink.
"Not that there's anythin' wrong with believin' in it," he stuttered and Beth forgot about being a little insulted because he looked so apologetic right then. And completely adorable.
Can a man his age still be considered adorable?
"Anyway," Daryl continued and cleared his throat. "Her mom, Jenny, works every Sunday at the diner for the breakfast rush so I told her that I can drop and pick Millie up every week."
"That's very nice of you," Beth had finally been able to see, tearing her eyes away from Daryl's face – at his tanned skin and watery blue eyes and the tiniest scar over one of his eyebrows – and looked down to the little girl. Beth knelt down, bringing herself to Millie's eye. Millie looked like Beth knew her mom, Jenny, to look like: red hair and green eyes and just about as pale as Beth's own skin. "We're going to have so much fun, Millie. I promise. Do you like stickers?"
Millie hadn't said anything, but had nodded her head slowly.
Beth had smiled and turning behind her to take a sheet from off her desk, she then gently applied a sticker of a cross onto Millie's cheek and the girl had lifted her fingertips up to touch it and then had looked to Beth, smiling a small smile. Beth's smile had only grown.
Beth got back to her feet and looked to Daryl, his eyes already steady on her. She felt like he was studying her. He was definitely staring at her; like she was something he had to figure out.
Her heart decided to throw up a little bit more.
"She'll be fine," Beth had promised.
"Don't doubt that," he had said and then had bent down to scoop his niece up into his arms. "'member what we talked about?"
Millie had nodded, staring at her uncle, still touching the cross sticker on her cheek. "No cursin'."
"'s right," Daryl gave a nod and then gave her a kiss on her cheek – the one without the sticker – and Beth had pursed her lips together to keep from smiling as Daryl put Millie back down on her feet.
And Millie's been with her in Sunday school ever since. And except for the couple occasions when Jenny Dixon has been able to do drop-off and pickup with her daughter, it's always Daryl, waiting for his niece on that darn motorcycle of his, wearing jeans and if the weather permits, a tee-shirt that shows his muscular, tanned arms so nicely.
"Have a wonderful week, Millie," Beth smiles to her.
"Bye, Ms. Greene!" Millie gives her a happy smile and eager wave before she hurries down the steps and runs across the gravel lot to where Daryl is waiting for her.
He swings off the bike and Beth can't hear her clearly, but Millie is obviously explaining the promise card as she waves it for Daryl to take. And he does, opening it and reading what Millie has written. Daryl is quiet for a moment, staring down at the words, and he then looks to Millie. He picks the girl up and hugs her tightly and Beth has no idea what he whispers to her, but whatever it does, it makes Millie laugh.
Beth tells herself not to watch. She always seems to watch – every week – and every week, she is left standing there, feeling like perhaps she is the most pathetic person in the world.
Daryl helps Millie into the seat on the back of the motorcycle, buckling her in tight and then helping set the pink motorcycle helmet onto her head, securing that on as well. He then takes the card, folding it as carefully as he can before slipping it into the back pocket of his jeans.
He then turns his head and Beth is still standing in the doorway, looking at him.
She yells at herself, wondering why she hadn't gone back inside a minute earlier before he noticed her.
Daryl then gives her a slight head nod and Beth does her best to give him a smile even though her stomach is rolling all over and she can't get it to stop. And even after Daryl roars away, Beth finds that she can't leave the doorway, staring at the cloud of dust he's left behind.
White Hill, Georgia isn't some massive, booming metropolis. At the most, they have two-thousand people living there, but the White Hill Baptist Church has a fairly large congregation, serving the many people who live in the surrounding rural areas. Most people would think living in the absolute smackdab of nowhere wouldn't be a good thing. The Pastor of White Hill Baptist Church does not share that sentiment.
Beth graduates from University of Georgia with her degree in Primary Education, but even then, she has absolutely no idea what to do. Obviously, teach, but the question is where? Does she want to move away to somewhere new – somewhere out of Georgia – or does she want to move back to White Hill, where she's lived her whole life and the place she has missed so much over the past four years of being away?
Her sister, Maggie, doesn't understand the decision. Maggie – who got out of White Hill practically the second her high school diploma was in her fist.
Her boyfriend from college, Zach, doesn't understand the decision. Zach – who was so sweet, it was ridiculous, but who was also from Charlotte and could never imagine not living in a big city.
Her roommate for all four years of school, Amy, doesn't understand the decision. Amy – who was going to New York City to make it as a singer. And she was going to make it, damn it, and she had just thought that Beth would come with her.
Beth graduates and moves back to White Hill the next week – back into her old bedroom in the sprawling white Green family farmhouse that has been in the family for generations and her parents can't be happier. But as Beth unpacks her belongings, she tries to think of what she is going to do next.
Pastor Douglas is the one to approach her – though Beth thinks it might have been her daddy who had told the man to do so. White Hill Baptist is in desperate need of a new Youth Coordinator and would Beth be doing him the greatest favor by accepting the position?
"What happened to the old Youth Coordinator?" Beth asks though she already knows her answer.
"Went to Mardi Gras and decided not to come back," Pastor Douglas says – and that's all he says.
"Yes, I would love this job. Thank you, Pastor Douglas," she smiles gratefully and Pastor Douglas gives her that wide, warm grin of his before engulfing her in a hug.
And that's how Beth finds herself here now.
Sunday school teacher; leader of the various youth groups and all of the activities they do throughout the year; bible study for kids on Monday and Wednesday nights.
It's not exactly the kind of teaching she imagined herself doing and it's not some high-paying job, but she doesn't need much. She survived for four years of college on Ramen noodles and apples and she still lives at home. She really doesn't have expenses.
And really, it feels so good to be back home. In White Hill. On the farm. In the church.
For four years of college, she lived, doing what she thought she had to do because she's watched too many television shows and movies of kids in college and Beth thought she had to be just like them.
She has missed all of this and hadn't even admitted it to herself until she found herself back.
She's happy. She's content. There's not a single thing in her life that she actually needs and that makes her more blessed than so many other people.
Sometimes, she does get lonely. For someone who's not her parents or for someone not from the church.
Everyone gets lonely, she reminds herself. It comes and goes and it's nothing to dwell on. And her always watching Daryl Dixon – anticipating seeing him every Sunday – is just because she's lonely.
She knows it doesn't mean anything. How can it? He barely looks at her, let alone talks to her.
In college, Beth had always been so embarrassed for growing up so religious. None of the kids she hung around with were the same, so Beth hid that part of herself, almost feeling embarrassed for that. And it's one of the things she's still ashamed of to this day.
Daryl Dixon isn't religious. Not in the least. Beth knows that. But she's not going to hide the fact that she is. She's never going to hide anything about herself ever again.
Class has run a bit late this morning. They had read the passage of Noah and the Ark and that's always a tricky story to teach to children so young.
"Did Noah not care about the dinosaurs? Is that why dinosaurs aren't around anymore?"
"What'd they do with all of the poo?"
"Every animal? Every single animal? There's a billion different kinds of insects alone."
"What about the unicorns, Ms. Greene?"
Sunday service is finished and parents are crowded in the doorway to the classroom, listening and smiling and chuckling at how adorable their children are. Beth ends class as quickly as they can because some questions, she is never able to answer and sometimes, the kids want more than "faith" as an answer.
"Remember!" Beth calls out over the chatter. "The same God who decided that this world needs sunsets and sunrises and chocolate cake decided that this world needs you too!"
Beth says it after each class and the parents just absolutely love it and it always makes the kids smile.
"Bye, Ms. Greene!"
Beth turns just in time to see Millie running out the back door. "Bye, Millie!"
With the classroom empty now, Beth begins cleaning up from that morning's craft project.
Someone clears their throat and she jumps, startled, spinning towards the sound.
Daryl Dixon is standing in the back door and he visibly blushes and almost winces. "Sorry. I was tryin' to not scare you," he says.
"It's alright," Beth smiles and shakes her head even though her heart is still racing and she smooths her hands down her skirt, trying to stop feeling nervous. "Did Millie forget something?"
"Jenny and me got a favor to ask," Daryl says and he's looking as nervous as Beth is still feeling.
"Of course," she doesn't hesitate.
"So my brother, Millie's dad, Merle, he's locked up over in Georgia Correctional," Daryl begins.
Beth nods and doesn't interrupt.
"Sure you know that already. Stupid shit got locked up for cookin' up meth. Anyway," Daryl clears his throat and his eyes have been staring down at the carpet, but now he lifts them to look at her.
Beth wishes he hadn't done that.
She has always had crushes on appropriately aged males. Jimmy in high school and Zach in college. There is her life-long crush on Steve McQueen, but he's Steve McQueen and that crush is always going to be there. Besides some actor she was never going to meet – especially since Steve McQueen is dead – she's always liked boys who are around her age.
And that is another thing. Boys. Always boys because she's always been a girl. But now, she's an adult. Twenty-four years old and a young woman and she looks at Daryl Dixon and he is such a man and Beth has no idea how to act around him. What to say or what to do, she doesn't know and she wishes that she could call Maggie and ask her, but Maggie's in California right now and they just aren't as close as they used to be.
Beth knows they both agree – without either actually admitting it out loud – that they just don't have that much in common at all anymore. Saying it out loud just makes their distance too real.
"Merle's up for parole and his hearing is actually next Sunday. Jenny doesn't want Millie to come – just in case it doesn't go through – and Millie loves coming here, but we don't have a way of getting her here…"
"I can pick her up," Beth offers, hoping that that's what he's trying to get at. She doesn't want to assume.
Daryl looks pleasantly surprised though and somehow, the look just makes him even more handsome. Beth almost wants to scowl at that. The last thing this man needs is to look more handsome.
"You don't mind?" Daryl makes sure.
"Absolutely not," Beth says and gives him a little smile. "I'd be more than happy to do it."
"Me and Jenny can't thank you enough." Daryl reaches into his pocket and pulls out a crinkled piece of paper, taking one step closer to her for her to take it. She does. "Jenny's address. We're leavin' Sunday mornin' so Millie won't be on her own for that long. We'd jus' drop her off here beforehand, but we're leavin' too early… And actually, the girl's pretty good at takin' care of herself."
Beth smiles easier. "I believe that."
Daryl's lips twitch as if he wants to smile at that, too. "Thanks again, Ms. Greene. Millie talks 'bout your class all the time and I know me and her mom wouldn' want her to miss it."
"It's no problem, Mr. Dixon," Beth assures him. "I love having Millie in class and would hate for her to miss one, too."
Daryl looks at her for a moment and she can't read his expression at all so she has no idea what he's thinking when he looks at her. What does he see when he looks at her? Beth knows what she sees. She sees a man with his longish dark hair and the scruff on his chin, a few sprouts of grey, and his biceps and she feels like such a little girl in front of him with her dress and cardigan, tights and ballet flats.
"I just don' wanna inconvenience you or anythin'. I'd ask my girlfriend, but Millie… well, Millie don't like her all that much so I'm always keepin' em separated."
The word echoes in Beth's mind like a cymbal crash.
Daryl says something else – Beth thinks it's a parting – and then he turns and heads out the door again, but Beth seems unable to move, standing in the middle of her empty classroom.
Girlfriend. She repeats the word to herself, not able to stop herself from doing so; not able to stop the rush of complete and utter disappointment she feels. She tries to remind herself though. She doesn't even know him. There's absolutely no reason for her to feel disappointment that Daryl has a girlfriend. And feeling so just reminds her that she truly is pathetic and lonely and… pathetic.
Thank you very much for reading and please take a moment to comment. Not sure how long this one is going to be. I'm imagining a short story.