“I wonder what time Chris left for his trip.” Ma said, almost to herself as she and Priscilla kicked up the road dust.
Priscilla held tightly to the basket she carried filled with bread, butter and jam. She normally would be swinging the basket back and forth, perhaps singing a song or taking a few skips. This morning felt different, however.
She couldn’t quite shake off the last conversation she’d had with her sister.
Priscilla insisted they head out as early as possible on that Tuesday morning. Considering the condition Hanna was in and the fact she had been so down, leaving her by herself didn’t seem like a good idea.
“I just hope Hanna is all right.” Priscilla said, in thought, but heard it escape her lips.
“What do you mean?” Ma asked with concern.
Priscilla looked at her ma, wanting to spill out the talk she and Hanna had only two nights prior. Was she making a fuss over nothing? Had it, indeed, only been the pregnancy?
Was Hanna just foreseeing how much she was going to miss Chris while he was away on his trip?
Priscilla had never been with child, she had never been in love, she didn’t know all the emotions that accompanied those milestones in life. Perhaps she was simply overreacting.
“Oh, nothing.” She piped up. “I just hope she’s not missing Chris too much.”
She grabbed her ma’s hand and gave her feet a quick skip as they neared the home Chris and Hanna had built together.
The early morning sun struggled to crest over the tree line in the East but blazed forward enough to illuminate the side of the barn and house. Linens still hung from the line, gently swaying in the breeze. The crow of the rooster and bustling of the chickens were heard coming from behind the barn. Trudy, the goat, was bellowing out her morning bleat.
“She sounds eager to get out of that barn.” Ma said as they made their way up the front porch steps. “I’ll help Hanna get the morning going. Why don’t you let Trudy out until Mason can get here to tend to the chores. He was almost done milking when we left, so he should be right behind us.”
Ma lightly rapped on the door then turned the knob, entering the home. “Hanna...”
Priscilla had already made it halfway across the yard. She reached the barn door. “I’m coming Trudy, hold your horses...” She said as she moved the large door. Trudy bounded up to her but then passed her, romping into the sunlit yard.
“...horses?” Priscilla said out loud as she laid her eyes upon Gus and Gertie. Both of the dark brown creatures stood patiently in their stalls.
How could Chris have made a trip to Branson without either of his horses? She wondered. Maybe he didn’t go after all.
Priscilla left the barn door open to allow the fresh August morning air to reach the horses and sprang up to the house. She anticipated seeing her ma, Chris and Hanna, laughing and conversing over their morning coffee. She couldn’t wait to see the light in Hanna’s eyes that her husband decided not to go or to postpone the trip until she was feeling better.
To her disappointment, she entered a dark, dingy room which stood desolate. The stove was cold and looked lonely. The curtains that covered the windows had gone untouched and even though the heat of the day was starting to set in, it felt cold inside. Every step she took over the new floorboards, creaked and moaned as she made her way to the bedroom. Her ma was standing near the bed with a wrinkle in her brow. The bed was messed but stood empty. There was no stench of oil, telling her the lamp hadn’t even been lit.
“Maybe she’s in the outhouse?” Priscilla offered.
“Perhaps you’re right. I’ll go see if she’s well.” Ma said as she made her way back toward the side door.
Priscilla took the edge of the quilt and began straightening it on the bed. She slid each curtain to allow the brightness of the day to enter the room. She made her way out to the main room, opening those curtains and both doors to allow a soft breeze to flow through. It warmed and freshened the room almost immediately.
She arranged a few small logs into the stove and struck a match to get a fire going for the coffee. Chris and Hanna had only been in the house for a few short months and had yet to put in a water pump. Priscilla grabbed the coffee pot and headed toward the door to fill it at the well when her mother rushed back in.
“She’s not there.” She said with a bit of urgency. “She’s gone!”
**I do not own any rights to the cover photo. Book cover is a sample only**