Read The Photograph Online

Authors: Beverly Lewis

Tags: #FIC053000, #FIC042000, #FIC026000, #Amish—Fiction, #Sisters—Fiction

The Photograph

BOOK: The Photograph
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© 2015 by Beverly M. Lewis, Inc.

Published by Bethany House Publishers

11400 Hampshire Avenue South

Bloomington, Minnesota 55438

www.bethanyhouse.com

Bethany House Publishers is a division of

Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan

www
.
bakerpublishinggroup
.
com

Ebook edition created 2015

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—for example, electronic, photocopy, recording—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

ISBN 978-1-4412-2890-1

Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.

This story is a work of fiction. With the exception of recognized historical figures and events, all characters and events are the product of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Cover design by Dan Thornberg, Design Source Creative Services

Art direction by Paul Higdon

To
Carole Billingsley,
whose prayers and love
are twofold blessings.

Now and then, in this workaday world, things do happen in the delightful storybook fashion, and what a comfort that is.

—From
Little Women,
by Louisa May Alcott

Prologue

E
DEN
V
ALLEY
, 1980

T
RUTH
BE
TOLD
, I was taught never to feel sorry for myself.
“Nothin' helpful comes from pity,” Mamma
often said, expecting me and my siblings to be grateful and cheerful, no matter what came our way. I confess to missing her and
Dat
terribly as we continue life without them. Yet I've scarcely time to dwell on the past. My youngest sister, Lily, has caused me no small amount of concern since our widowed mother succumbed to pneumonia last winter.

I recall one of those frosty January days when I stepped into Mamma's bedroom and saw her standing with eighteen-year-old Lily near the sunlit window. Our mother was swathed all in white from head to foot and had somehow managed to pull herself up from her sickbed to don her best organdy
Kapp
, matted hair all
strubblich
beneath. She was talking quietly to Lily, her untied bathrobe hanging from her frail shoulders.

“Just look at those
critter tracks in the new snow.”
Mamma pointed out the window, then turned to face Lily, still not noticing
me.
“My dear girl, be ever so careful what tracks you
make, and where they might lead those who follow.”

It wasn't new, this sort of talk from our mother. But this time, Lily's lower lip quivered, and she looked with sad eyes through the windowpane, saying nary a word.

Little did she or any of us know that precious Mamma would leave this old world behind just three short weeks later. Leaving Lily for me to look after, trying diligently to keep her on the straight and narrow path.

———

Our older sister, Frona, had been fretting over Lily just as I was. She especially worried over what was to become of the three of us, since we were still unmarried and living in the farmhouse where we grew up, here in Lancaster County's Eden Valley. Living there on borrowed time, since our brother Menno had inherited the place from our parents.

“Tonight we'll have some answers,” Frona informed me after breakfast this mid-May morning. “I just hope we like what we hear.”

The youngest of our four older married brothers, Menno had worked the land there since Dat's passing, helping Mamma and then us to keep things going. While he was often around the farm, he didn't often set foot in the house, other than for the occasional noon meal, but he'd told Frona he was eager to drop by after supper for a talk. By the look of gloom on her face, I felt she needed assurance all would go well. “It's awful
gut
of Menno to check in on us, remember,” I replied.

“Ain't sure what's up,” Frona said, frowning again. “But I have my suspicions.”

“Well, I guess we'll know soon enough.” I set about making my delicious peanut butter balls, Menno's favorite, wanting to offer him some when he arrived.

I've learned in my twenty years that a person really has no idea how life's going to play out. Things often start out fine and then take a hard turn. Dat and Mamma, healthy as they seemed, left us in their prime.
Jah
, I knew firsthand that when hard times came, you needed something to cling to. In my parents' case, it was their trust in our heavenly Father. 'Twas the same for me.

Unfortunately, it wasn't true for pretty Lily. Mamma had always been her rock during such times, and without her around, Lily seemed lost. We all were, in our own way, just not nearly as openly, nor as desperately.

At night, when Lily curled her slender body next to mine as we huddled like spoons to keep warm in the bed we'd shared since childhood, I'd hear her talking to herself and crying softly. The words might have been prayers, but if so, they were nothing akin to the ones Mamma had taught us. Sometimes Lily could say the most senseless things, honestly, and I tried my best not to take them to heart.

“All the
fun in life is passin' me by,”
Lily had said soon after Mamma died.
“I work hard from sunup to
sundown, and for what? Just to start all over the
same way tomorrow.”

“But work can be fun,”
I reminded her.

“Maybe for you and Frona.”

I let it go, remembering what Mamma's lifelong friend Naomi Mast had once said:
“It's better not to ponder too much
what folks say when they're grieving.”

“Time to go an' greet your devoted patrons, Eva,” said Frona, trying to shoo me out the side door to my candy shop that morning. It was built onto one end of the house—all Dat's doing, although Mamma had been in agreement, back when I was only
twelve and already creating the kinds of tasty candies a person couldn't seem to stop thinking about.

“You've found
your calling, Eva,”
my father once said, beaming.
“And we
're the happy—and hungry—receivers!”

Even as a girl, I often lost track of time while creating new recipes, always trying to outdo myself with tantalizing confections to tempt the tongue. Some said my candies were like a riveting series of books—you couldn't wait to get your hands on the next one. And right quick, there were more orders for homemade fudge and crystal sticks than I had room for in our kitchen, large though it was. So my father had taken it on himself to build the sunny and welcoming candy shop, with its attached area for a small work kitchen. The very first time I stepped inside and looked around, I felt like I'd died and gone to Glory.

“For me, Dat?”
I'd said.

My father kissed my forehead.
“All for
you, little Eva.”

I smiled back at him, one of a thousand happy memories.

“You're daydreaming again.” Frona was staring at me, waving in front of my face. “You have customers!”

“Soon as I wash my hands,” I told her.

“Be sure to bring back the gossip, ya hear?”

“Why don't ya just come hear it for yourself?” I turned on my heel to head for the sink. “And while you're at it, you could help over there, too.”

Frona snapped her long white dish towel into the air. “I've plenty to do here, believe me. Anyway, I saw Dienners' boy out there in line.”

“Can't imagine why.”

Frona gave me a knowing grin.

I lathered up real good, then rinsed and dried my hands. It wasn't for her to know what was or wasn't in my heart for twenty-
year-old Alfred Dienner. After all, he was the first fellow to ask me to go riding, four years ago when I was but sixteen. Alfred was real nice and not bad looking, either, but he planned to farm, and I couldn't bear the thought of being a farmer's wife.

Stuck in a farmer's crowded kitchen
 . . .

“Best hurry,” Frona said, her eyes softening. “We need every cent to pay for new gardening tools.” Plain as a plate, my sister was also a worrywart.

I recalled the times Menno and our other brothers—Emmanuel, Stephen, and Rufus—had encouraged Frona to worry less and trust
Gott
more. “For goodness' sake, we'll be fine,” I told Frona. “I promise.”


You
promise?” Frona moved to the back door and looked out the window, dish towel hanging limply over her arm. The sun shone onto her smooth, round cheek. She looked as vexed as ever, despite her pretty green cape dress and matching apron, the hems nearly brushing her ankles.

“We've always managed to pay our bills on time.”

Frona blinked her gray-blue eyes at me behind her thick glasses. She'd taken it upon herself to wear Mamma's old pair, saying they helped her see everything she'd been missing. “
Puh!
I've never understood why you're so
hallich,
” Frona huffed, like being happy was something to be ashamed of. She leaned her plump self against the windowsill and glowered.

“Mamma loved watchin' the birds, remember? Our heavenly Father looks after even the lowly sparrow.”

Frona puffed her cheeks and blew air, then plodded over to the gas-powered fridge. Opening it, she merely stared inside. After a time, she made a sound clear down in the back of her throat and looked back at me. It was as if a gray shadow passed over her.

What's she so worried about?

While Frona was prone to fret, especially over the future, I
wasn't exactly immune to that sin. Dat frequently reminded us that problems were designed to strengthen our faith.
“In everything, give
thanks,”
he would say.

So, in memory of dear Dat, I was determined to count our blessings—family, friends, and fudge. Then and there, I chose to believe that whatever was on Frona's mind just now, I needn't think twice about. Our Father in heaven would take care of us. Besides, most things a person worries over never come to pass.

BOOK: The Photograph
13.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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