Sally slipped out from under the covers and padded over to the window. Thick, grey clouds filled the sky, but they hadn’t burst yet. Jeremy was already working outside in the field as the Allen boys fed the horses and cattle. In some ways she was grateful for their help. Without them, he would have had to work well past sundown. Farming was the hardest job anyone could do. She did realize that.
Thunder rolled over the countryside and she shuddered. Despite how much she had changed over the past year, storms still made her feel like a scared little girl. When the rain poured down, Jeremy ran toward the house as the Allen boys fled to the barn. She quickly washed up and got dressed then made her way out to the kitchen to greet him. His drenched hair fell over his eyes. At the sight of her, he wiped it away with his hands as he kicked off his boots. She found the gesture to be strangely attractive.
“I caught a chill out there and could use a hot coffee.”
She nodded and started to brew a fresh pot. Her mind rattled with conflicting thoughts. Then a loud thunder strike interrupted her ruminations.
“There seems to be more storms since they killed him,” she mused.
“Talking about that incident will not do anyone any good.”
“You want to pretend that it never happened.”
“I didn’t say that. I just mean that we should try to forget about them when we’re here.”
He was right behind her. Feeling warmer, she turned around to look him in the eyes.
“You can really stand to go to that church every Sunday for the rest of your life?”
“I know it’s hard, but there is nothing we can do to bring Michael back.”
She closed her eyes. “We could save someone else from being murdered. Think of Gabriel. Can we not tell the sheriff next time he is in town?”
“The sheriff is rarely here. He’s been led to believe everyone is peaceful and good. He wouldn’t believe us if we told him.”
Would she really be stuck there for the rest of her life?
“Oh my God I can’t believe this is my life!” cried Sally. “Why can’t we just leave?”
Jeremy reached over and gently squeezed her shoulder. She knew it was suicide to make a run for it without a plan. She knew that no farmer in his right mind would abandon his farm unless a full army was marching straight for it. Even then, she wondered if Jeremy would die along with it. He didn’t seem capable of doing any other sort of work.
“Right here, right now, there is nothing we can do,” said Jeremy. “I’ve already told you this. There is no good in dwelling on what has passed.”
He didn’t seem to be concerned with the fact that another tragedy could happen at any time.
“My thoughts have been quite Gothic as of late. It would do me some good to keep busy doing something else.”
He shook his head with a disappointed expression.
“You’ll have your work cut out for you soon enough. Give it another year or two.”
He eyed her up and down and she crossed her arms. She knew that he wanted to consummate their marriage soon. The days of him thinking of her as a little girl were long gone. Once she gave herself to him, there would be no going back. She would eventually become a mother and that would bind her to the farm forever.
Her hand went to her flat stomach and she wondered how on earth she would be able to stand childbearing, let alone child rearing.
“You’re quiet,” said Jeremy.
She suppressed the urge to shudder.
“I was thinking.”
“I won’t tell your father,” he said with a wink.
“That was very poor humour.”
“So was your quip about them murdering us for being late at church.”
She rolled her eyes. “I was being serious. They might.”
She sat down at the table with him. He gave her a look that she had never seen before. It must have been aggravating to be her husband some days.
“Thank you again for talking to Papa about Jacob,” she said, gripping her warm cup with both hands.
“I did it for Michael. And for you.”
She sighed. “What are we going to do?”
“There isn’t much we can do, like I said.”
She bit her lip as he looked at her intently. He was thinking of something. Then the family servant knocked on the door.
“That’s my cue to start the laundry,” she said with a sigh.
“I still owe you that picnic.”
She downed the rest of her hot drink and gave him a sidelong glance.
He took a swig of his coffee and they both walked outside. With him back in the barn, Sally and her maid washed the clothes in a big tub outside. The drizzle dampened their own clothes and hair as they worked.
“What a horrid day for laundry,” said Sally.
“You’re a deacon’s daughter, not a princess,” said the older woman with a smirk. “It’s gotta get done.”
The woman was stoic just like the deacons, which made her company less than agreeable, but Sally was grateful for the help. They worked extra quick and brought the wet laundry inside to hang dry on an indoor line by the fire.
With the maid gone, Sally started another painting in her room. She dabbed black paint in the center of the paper. It was time to paint something different than the sky. She painted two sets of eyes – Jacob’s hazel eyes and Michael’s brown eyes. Then she decided that she would finish the rest of it the next morning. Recreating their eyes made her feel something other than grief. It made her feel a sense of connection with the two people who haunted her the most.
“You wanna live
In the past
You’ll do anything
To make your pain last”
– The Past by Korn
Would you like to read the whole story? Sally is currently on sale for just 99 cents until the end of today (Sunday, Oct 23 2022). It’s also free on Kindle Unlimited! If you prefer print books, it is $18.99 for the paperback! You can purchase Sally here.
Thank you for reading today. ❤