Read Almost Amish Online

Authors: Kathryn Cushman

Tags: #FIC042000, #FIC026000, #Self-realization in women—Fiction, #Amish—Fiction, #Tennessee—Fiction

Almost Amish (8 page)

BOOK: Almost Amish
2.74Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Joe turned to look at it. “Oh, that’s Hannah’s. She’s somewhere in the middle, maybe ten. Anytime I pull up and she’s around, she comes running out to say hi—I give her a grape soda from time to time.” He grinned. “She likes those a lot.”

Kendra continued to fire question after question about the family and then, after glancing quickly over her shoulder, said, “Can we see that woodshop now?”

“Okay.” Joe set the basket back on the shelf. “Everyone follow me, and watch your step.”

Julie was the last to enter the woodshop, turning in time to see one of the men shooting footage of the little store they’d just been in. She looked around for the other and saw him on the front porch, this time taking still photos.

Julie entered and found the space too tight to do anything other than stand behind the group. The heat of the day combined with the tightness of the quarters and the thick smell of freshly sawed cedar made the air even heavier. The group was looking at a crib and a king-sized bed frame, both made by the family who lived in the house. Sawdust covered the floor and a good bit of the workbench as well.

“Okay, let’s make our way back to the buggy. There are lots more things to see.”

Julie was the first out the door, but she waited for Kendra to exit. “Kendra, your cameramen were out here shooting, in spite of the fact that they were asked not to.”

“Were they? I didn’t notice.” Kendra continued walking, so Julie hurried to catch up. “I know that you know they were. I saw you distracting Joe. These people have asked that no photographs be made.”

“They won’t even know about it. We’re being very discreet, and I specifically said to focus on the setting. The shed, the house. Not the people. What’s it going to hurt?”

“It hurts because, aside from these people’s beliefs, you told Joe you wouldn’t do it.”

“They won’t know about it, and he won’t know about it. Right?”

In spite of the heat of the day, a chill ran the length of Julie’s spine. She knew a warning when she heard one. If Kendra was willing to lie so openly about this, what else was she capable of?

Chapter 8

Susan looked at all the Amish homes, their front porches neat as a pin. This level of perfection would be no small task for them to attain and maintain.

“They’re adding onto that one.” Joe pointed ahead. “She’s got another baby on the way, so they’re adding a couple of bedrooms upstairs, and they just put in a new outhouse on that end. See how it’s disguised so it almost looks like part of the house?”

“Outhouse?” Kendra leaned toward the building as if trying to determine whether or not Joe was telling the truth. “I thought Amish had a modified version of indoor plumbing.”

Joe laughed then and clucked at the horse to go faster. “Different groups have different rules. The ones we got down here—they’re called Swartzentruber Amish—are a lot less modern. They don’t have all those configurations to get water into their house. It’s all hand-pumped outside and hand-carried into the house. I think some of the ones up north use refrigerators and such, powered by propane. Here they don’t. They use iceboxes. And coolers. You’ll see that when we stop at one of the houses down the way where the girls make candy to sell.”

“Where do they get the ice?” Julie asked.

“They buy ice from the local stores. But, for the most part, they pretty much eat their food fresh or can it.”

“That’d be an interesting challenge,” Kendra mumbled, more to herself than anyone else. “Tough, but doable.” She looked toward Susan. “I hadn’t considered a week without indoor plumbing. That would be extremely interesting, wouldn’t it? Not only the aspect of a modern family having to use an outhouse, but also having to bring their bath water in from the well and heat it. Hmm . . .”

No way!
” Whitney leaned forward. “That was part of our deal in coming here: no outhouses.”

“Are you sure about that?” Kendra cocked her head to the side and looked at Whitney. “I’ll have to pull out my contract and see what it says. I’m not sure I remember that part.”

“Well, I do.” Whitney’s head was directly between Julie and Susan now, she was leaning so far forward. “No Amish clothes except for one week—you’ve already broken that part of our deal as far as I’m concerned—Brian gets to have his telescopes, and no outhouses. Those were the three conditions that the three of us”—she nodded her head back toward Angie and Brian—“agreed to.”

Kendra shrugged. “As I said, I’ll have to pull out my contract as a reminder.”

Susan tried to remain calm, but it was growing harder. Whitney’s teenage attitude had the potential of ruining everything if she kept pushing Kendra like she had for the first twenty-four hours. Maybe they needed to have a little chat about tact.


They climbed back into the tour buggy and started on toward the next place. Julie turned toward Susan. “Doesn’t it feel a little . . . weird to you? To be going up to these people’s homes like it’s a tourist attraction or something?”

Susan tilted her head in thought. “Maybe a little, but they obviously welcome guests or else they wouldn’t have the little stores set up in front of their homes.”

There was truth in that, Julie knew. “You’re right. Maybe it’s just because we’re not exactly the typical person who stops to buy molasses from them. I mean, the whole reason we’re in this area—this part of the country, for that matter—is to pretend to be them. It’s like we’re exploiting their way of life for our own gain.”

“Bah.” Kendra shook her head. “It’s no different than a professional athlete or a movie star. People want to know all about them because they’re curious. Those who can offer a true glimpse into their lives do, perhaps, profit from it, but I wouldn’t exactly call it exploitation.”

“That’s different, though.” Julie tried to make herself see it from Kendra’s perspective, but couldn’t quite do it. “Professional athletes and movie stars thrust themselves into the public eye. If people watch them, or exploit them, well, they’ve more or less asked for it. But the Amish definitely don’t put themselves in the spotlight.”

“Look at what they wear—look at their mode of transportation. They want to be different. They may not
people to notice them, but by refusing to fit in, what do they expect? Like teenagers who dye their hair pink, or do the gothic look. They may say they just want to be accepted for who they are and left to live their life, but everything about them tells a different story. They want the attention.”

“So if this subset of religious culture,” Brian offered, “is all about drawing attention to themselves, then the most extreme in their society must do something especially noteworthy. Are there any gothic Amish, do you think?”

The others just stared at him, though Julie couldn’t help but smile at his quirky sense of humor.

He shrugged, all freckle-faced innocence. “I’m just saying . . .”

“Well, in one novel I read before we came here, there was an Amish guy in it who was . . . well, he wasn’t gothic . . . but he did always wear a black shirt. He was sort of dark and dangerous. And mysterious.” Angie’s voice took on a dreamy tone.

Whitney gave her cousin a little shove on the shoulder. “So
why you spent so much time getting ready this morning. I thought it was because you wanted to look good for the TV cameras. I didn’t know you were on the hunt for an Amish bad boy.” She giggled. “It all makes perfect sense to me now.”

“That’s not at all what I’m doing.” Angie’s answer came quick, but the burst of deep red color in her face told Julie there might be more than a little truth to this. Besides, she’d read the same novel, and for a teenage girl, he’d been a character worth blushing over.


When they finally returned to their home that afternoon, Julie had a renewed sense of respect and wonder for the Amish people. She’d seen beautiful quilts and immaculate farms, smelled some amazing fruit pies and yeasty rolls, and watched the few Amish they’d seen go humbly about their work. What quiet dignity they all showed.

As they pulled up, a couple of crew members came out to meet the cars. Kendra climbed out and said, “Chris, we bought several containers of molasses today. Would you take them into the farmhouse kitchen for me? Make sure you Greek the labels. We’ll be using them later in the week.”

“Greek the labels?” Julie asked.

“Remove any kind of brand name or other identifying trademark so they are not shown on camera. We’ve done that with all your supplies, if you’ve noticed.”

“The Amish have trademarks?” Brian shook his head. “Here, I’ll help carry that.” Brian moved around to join Chris at the back of the car.

“Me too.”

“And me!”

Whitney and Angie hurried to join them, and Julie smiled at how thoughtful and well-mannered the kids were. As they headed toward the house, she couldn’t help but notice Angie, walking a few steps behind, her attention clearly focused on Chris . . . who wore a black T-shirt and jeans. Julie thought back to the conversation from the tour, and a niggle of worry crept in. She hoped her niece would not romanticize Chris into the character from the book she had just read—a person Chris certainly was not.

Chris reached the door first. He pulled back the screen door, then pushed the other door open, backing up to hold the screen door for the others. Brian and Whitney each went through, offering a quick “Thanks.” When Angie walked through, there was no denying the prolonged eye contact between the two of them. “Thank you.”

“I’m not allowed to talk to you, but you’re more than welcome.” He grinned the kind of grin that would melt most seventeen-year-olds. From the sound of Angie’s giggles, Julie surmised she was among them. She turned to see how Susan was reacting to all this, and saw that she and Kendra were in deep conversation, not even looking this direction. Just as well. Susan had enough to worry about right now. Julie would make certain to keep a close watch on the situation.

Chapter 9

“So tomorrow we will be in to shoot footage of the farmhouse for the first ‘after’ shot for our before-and-after segment,” Kendra announced as she entered the living room.

They’d been back for just an hour or so, and Susan had immersed herself in cleaning. She’d expected Kendra to be done for the day and whirled when she heard her voice. “Tomorrow! I thought we had another week for that.” Immediately, all the things they hadn’t yet done clattered through her mind. “You still haven’t gotten us a washing machine. Remember? I asked about it a couple of days ago, and we need it for the curtains, so of course we need more time.”

“Oh, I’m glad you reminded me about that. Your brand-new washer arrived today, but we haven’t brought it up to the house yet. It’s quite an . . .
piece of equipment.” She smiled outright.

Susan had studied enough about Amish people to know that it would be a gas-powered machine of some sort, and that there would be a clothesline instead of a dryer. “I can’t wait to see it.”

“Hmm . . . yes. I’m looking forward to that, too.” Kendra pulled her iPhone out her back pocket. “I’ll call Gary and ask him to bring it over for you. Have you met Gary?”

Susan thought back through the photographers, cameramen, production assistants, and others whom she’d encountered over the last few days. Gary didn’t ring a bell. “I don’t think so.”

“Gary Macko. He’s your handyman.”


“Yes. Obviously the Amish women have their husbands’ skill sets to help them out. Since you’re single”—Susan flinched at the words—“and Julie’s husband will only be here for the occasional long weekend, we knew we’d need someone to lend a hand. There are some things it just isn’t practical for you to do. We want you to stretch your comfort zone a bit during this experience; we don’t want you cutting off limbs. He’ll make certain everything else is done properly.”

“Okay, sounds good.” And it did. What a relief it would be to have someone share a little of the burden. Someone else who could help make certain things were done correctly.

“Oh, and by the way, the first challenge is scheduled for day after tomorrow.”

BOOK: Almost Amish
2.74Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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