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Fiction By marienicole // 10/31/2007

The world was bare and brown. The crops had been gathered from the fields and the trees had lost their leaves. A boy of about sixteen stood observing the area. It was strangely quiet for an October day. All the wild animals were gone. “There must be a storm comin’,” he thought out loud. That explained the heavy stillness in the air. He grabbed some extra logs for the fire as he headed for the warm cabin. “It’s best to be prepared, ‘specially with the early frost this year.”

He stomped into the cabin, dropping the firewood on the floor with a loud clatter. As he piled the logs into the wood box he looked around the little cabin. It was sparsely furnished, with a bed in one corner and a stove in the other. The table was to the right of the door, circled by six wooden chairs. On the opposite wall was a ladder leading to the loft.
“Sara, set the table,” he reminded the little girl sitting by the bed. His five-year-old sister had been playing quietly with a kitten. He noticed then that Rebecca, not Elizabeth, was stirring the stew for supper.
“Where’s Elizabeth?” he asked.
Rebecca stared to reply, “She went to the well to git water, ‘cuz we needed some more for the stew, and anyway that’s her chore and …..”
“Where is Elizabeth?” he repeated, his voice full of concern. Rebecca continued without noticing the interruption.
Muttering about girls, he turned to little Sara. “Where is Elizabeth?” he anxiously inquired.
“She went to find the cow. Must’ve jumped the fence ‘gain,” came the quick reply.

His heart stopped beating, or so he thought. She knows better than to go out in this weather. Why would she try to find the cow by herself? Of course, he knew the answer. Elizabeth had always been impulsive. She would’ve been oblivious to the approaching storm in her hurry to find the animal. Why couldn’t she have thought first?
“Both of you listen to me,” he said, in a voice that was calm, but firm. “I need to go find Elizabeth. Keep the fire burning, Rebecca. Sara, listen to your sister. Most importantly, don’t leave the house for anything.”
He opened the door, but at the sight of the snow flurries shut it again. Hastily he grabbed his coat, a blanket, and a rope. Before he ran outside he said, “Keep the lamp lit in the window while I’m gone.”

The storm was really coming in now, fast and furious. Snow swirled around him, hiding everything in a veil of white. He heard the wind shrieking through the trees, but that was all. Even his own voice was lost as he called.
“Elizabeth, forget the cow. It’s too dangerous to be out here! Elizabeth!”

As he searched, he thought back to when Elizabeth was born. ‘Course he had wanted a brother, as every three year old boy would. His first reaction had been one of disappointment. But the baby smiled at him, winning his affection.
A few years later, however, his opinion of her had changed. She was always tagging behind him. “Me, too!” became her constant call. He was almost seven, all grown up and wanted nothing to do with any baby, especially not a girl!
A faint noise interrupted his musings. It sounded like a muffled cry. After walking a few steps, he brushed up against something. It was the cow completely covered in snow. His first desire was to leave the beast stranded in the storm. The cow was the reason he was out in this storm, after all. He fought this impulse, and slipped his rope through the cow’s halter.
It was hard to believe Ma and Pa had only left yesterday. For him it seemed much longer. They were going to town for supplies before winter set in. The four of them, Elizabeth, Rebecca, Sara, and him, were to stay home and mind the farm.
“Watch out for the others,” Ma had cautioned him. Pa said, “You’re the man of the house while I’m away.” They reminded the girls to do their chores and listen. Then with a ‘giddy-up’ from Pa and a snap of the reins they were gone.

He could not tell if he was making progress or just going in circles. His footprints were covered in snow as he walked. If not for the rope he would never be able to find the cabin again.
His thoughts were on Elizabeth as he struggled in the snow. Beth was a lot like him in appearance. They had the same dark brown eyes that revealed their feelings more clearly than words. Her shoulder length hair was chestnut brown, but not curly like his. Both of them had a single dimple, giving them an impish smile.
The smile fit Beth perfectly. She was cheerful and lighthearted all the time. Her enthusiasm often got her in trouble though. She thought about something afterwards, resulting in numerous scrapes. But her brother was always there to help her. But this time he might not be able to help her.

What had he done wrong? The girls had been inside fixing the meal. He went out to chop a few logs before supper. The cow was in the barnyard when he walked past. It should have been in the barn already, but he had decided to leave it till after the meal. It was his fault then. He could have prevented this. If Elizabeth was hurt he would never forgive himself. His earlier frustration was replaced by agonizing guilt.
What if he couldn’t find her? Had he done the right thing? Darkness had fallen now. If he didn’t go in soon he would freeze to death. But how could he leave her to die?
And what about Sara and Rebecca? Had they kept the fire going? Were they to freeze in the house? He tried to look for the light in the window, but he could see nothing through the snow. Tears filled his eyes as he prayed.

“God, please keep my sisters safe.” He repeated this simple, yet desperate plea over and over.
His prayer was interrupted when he tripped on a tree root. As he pushed himself up off the ground he heard a faint moan. Digging frantically, he uncovered Beth’s small body tinged with blue from the cold. He cradled her sleeping form in his arms, hoping, wishing, praying she would wake up. When he wrapped her in the blanket, her eyes fluttered open.
“Jonathan, I knew you’d find me,” she whispered. A moment later she drifted back to sleep.
The snow stopped falling as he shuffled his way back, following the rope. He tried not to worry about the girls as he slowly made progress. Half an hour after finding Elizabeth, he still had not reached the cabin. He stopped to rest for a minute, unsure of where he was in the darkness. As he rose from the ground, he noticed the smell of smoke. And then he saw it. The light was still shining in the window.

Comments

I like it!

I like the storyline, and the way you ended it with "The light was still shining in the window," was really good!

Kyleigh | Mon, 11/05/2007

Are you going to write more

Are you going to write more to this story?

Sarah | Mon, 11/12/2007

"Sometimes even to live is courage."
-Seneca

Blogging away!
busyscribbler.wordpress.com

Oh my goodness!

It's so touching! How do you come up with this stuff?!

Anonymous | Thu, 12/13/2007

WOW!

I'm very happy I read this story! Your descriptions are perfect! Keep wrighting!

Emily | Fri, 12/14/2007

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