Put the past behind you.
In nose-biting pre-dawn cold, Ray's rap sounded. Out front waited a new wagon. Abby buttoned her wool coat and bonnet, doubled Papa's traveling blanket over her arm with her parasol, and crossed the threshold for the last time. Ray hoisted her trunk as she clambered into the buckboard.
He was no gentleman-no surprise to that. Through hushed streets, past Annabelle's house, the silent empty clapboard church, and beyond the new train depot, memories flitted one by one. With each, her heaviness lifted, and out in the countryside west of town, each squeaky turn of the wheels breathed hope.
In rhythm with the creaking wheels, words circled through her mind like poetry-Now we are wed... no longer alone... heading west.
A fog immersed her. Not an endearing word from him, nor even a kindly touch of his hand.
A sudden light spangled the heavens as if to show that sunshine still reigned.
Abby sank to a fallen log-the glow rimmed the clouds in an ethereal aura. Crimson became rose, yellows transformed to gold, and periwinkle caressed deep purple.
"Could I have been befuddled all this time?"
The scripture Fred read at supper filtered back.
The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee."
The day's warmth still hovered, and with it, a sense that all was well. The sky flamed for several more minutes.
This beauty and my love for you are one.
She hugged the message close. "Perhaps, after all, I am loved."