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Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. —Ecclesiastes 11:9
Awakening to darkness, Katie, in a dreamy stupor, thought surely she was back in her bedroom at Hickory Hollow, that it was time to "rise 'n' shine," hurry into choring clothes, get out to the barn to help with the milking. But as she lay there listening, ears attuned for her father's call up the steps, she realized she was no longer a girl growing up in the Lapp home. She was a young married woman, curled up next to Dan, her sleeping husband.
Morning's pale light had not seeped under the bedroom curtains, where cotton fabric gently brushed against the windowsill. Not a sound was heard, not even the first peep-peepings of a family of birds who'd camped out in the maple tree just yards from their window, birds who'd waited longer than usual to fly south. This being market day, a number of horse-drawn buggies would surely be passing by the house, yet the road was still as night.
Must be nearly dawn, Katie thought, too weary to raise herself and peer over the blanketed mound that was her husband to see the exact time on the illuminated alarm clock.
Lying in the stillness, her drowsiness slowly lifting, she thought of Mam, who'd called the other day, sharing news of a recent visit with Mary Beiler. "She misses ya something awful, Katie. We all do." Mam sounded a bit sad and recounted her morning over at the Beilerhome. "Mary's got her hands full with John's children, no question 'bout that."
"They're her children now, too," Katie had said, hoping her friend had fallen in love by now with the red-cheeked youngsters.
"Jah ... but can you just imagine?" Mamma hadn't said much more, prob'ly catching herself, realizing that Katie, too, had cared deeply for the Beiler brood—three boys and two girls—having nearly become their stepmamma a while back.
"Is the youngest, Jacob, in first grade yet?" Katie had been especially fond of the bishop's mischievous blue-eyed boy.
"Jah, and he works so hard at school ... Mary tells me."
Hearing Mam talk up so 'bout Mary's stepchildren seemed ever so awkward. "That's not to say Jacob isn't schmaert—smart, really. Just got himself an active mind ... awful hard to keep his attention on book learnin' when he'd prob'ly rather be outside catching a frog down by the creek, you know."
They chatted about several upcoming quiltings, though Mam wasn't the one to bring up the subject. Katie had asked about one frolic after another. Seemed there were several more round the corner, too, and Mam, when pressed for more information, said she would be helpin' her daughters-in-law, Annie and Gracie, put up preserves and vegetables for the long winter.
Perking up her ears at the mention of Annie Fisher, Dan's sister, Katie said, "Oh, and how is Annie ... little Daniel, too?" Katie hadn't seen her oldest brother's wife and baby in ever such a long time.
Mam chuckled a bit. "Well, Daniel's growin' up fast, not much of a baby anymore. He's nearly two and all mixed up on his sleep schedule. Doesn't seem much interested in napping here lately ... puts the g in go, I should say. Annie says he's been getting up in the middle of the night, just a-wailing. Must be he's cutting his second molars."
Katie could hardly believe her ears. Elam and Annie's baby a toddler? Where had the time gone?
Mam asked how she and Daniel were getting along, and Katie caught her up a bit on their lives, telling of one church function after another, of Dan's and her playing their guitars at small home groups, and her weekly visits to shut-ins with another friend, Darlene Frey. She told Mam that Darlene lived not far from Hickory Hollow—to the east a bit—and that they'd had such "good fellowship" here lately. She didn't go too far with that, though. Didn't say just how close she felt to Darlene these days, them both seein' eye to eye on certain Scriptures and all.
Later in the conversation, Mam suggested Katie "drop by for a chat sometime," saying that Dat was agreeable to it, but only if the visit was kept short. Mamma's faltering manner made Katie wonder if her mother was hesitant about a face-to-~face meeting. And, too, it was clear that Dan wasn't invited. Not a'tall.
Katie, of course, didn't promise anything definite, saying she didn't know how soon she could visit them. She would talk things over with Dan first, wanted to get his opinion on the matter, whether or not he thought Katie oughta be singled out. Not that she was too timid to go alone, wasn't that. Dan just might think her parents were working on her, trying to get her "to see the light," according to the Old Ways.
Practicing hymns and gospel songs on their guitars, then leading worship at two different home groups during the past week had taken up much of her and Dan's time, so she hadn't shared Mam's phone call with him. But she would.
For now she plumped her pillow and lay quietly. Then, gently, she reached over and laid her hand on his shoulder, waiting for dawn's light ... and for the alarm clock. So strong was Dan, both physically and in the faith. She could lean on him if need be when things troubled her. He was her shelter in the one and only howling gale of her life, because he fully understood the pain of shunning. Dan was under the Bann, too, from the same bishop, the man she'd nearly married. How strange that her dearest friend, Mary, had become John Beiler's young bride. Well, she was right happy for them both. Truly, she was.
Still, she couldn't help but wonder if Mary would go on missing her and telling Mamma so, who in turn would relay the information to Katie. Was it an attempt to get to Katie, make her feel sorrowful for leaving? To make her regret abandoning her Amish roots for her newfound faith?
Sitting up, she pushed back the covers, swinging her legs over the side of the bed. Her feet groped about for slippers, and, finding them, she tiptoed across the room. At the window, she stood silently and parted the curtains, looking out. The dawn was as cold and gray as any she'd witnessed lately. An enormous cloud mass hovered over the horizon, blocking out the sun. No wonder the room had seemed so dark upon her first awakening.
She stared down at black tree trunks, mere etchings against a yellowing, now-dormant front lawn. In the distance, not a flicker of sunlight escaped from the gloom as the day began over wooded hills.
October Song by Beverly Lewis
Copyright © 2001, Beverly Lewis
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.