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Authors: WANDA E. BRUNSTETTER

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BOOK: the STRUGGLE
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Hannah stood at the kitchen sink, hands shaking and eyes brimming with tears. She could hardly believe her husband was making them move to Kentucky. She couldn’t stand the thought of leaving her family—especially Mom. Hannah and her mother had always been close, but Timothy was jealous of the time they spent together. He wanted her all to himself—that’s why he’d decided they should move to Kentucky. She wished she could convince Timothy to change his mind, but he wouldn’t budge.

She sniffed and swiped at the tears running down her cheeks. “It’s not fair! I shouldn’t be forced to move from my home that I love to a place I’m sure I will hate! I can’t believe my own husband is putting me through this!”

Hannah jumped when the back door banged shut. She grabbed a dish towel and quickly dried her tears. If it was Timothy, she couldn’t let him know she’d been crying. It would only cause another disagreement like the one they’d had earlier this morning, and they sure didn’t need any more of those. Timothy didn’t like it when she cried and had often accused her of using her tears to get what she wanted.

When Hannah was sure all traces of tears were gone, she turned and was surprised to see her mother standing near the kitchen table. Hannah breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh Mom, it’s you. I’m so glad it’s not Timothy.”

“Are you okay? Your eyes look red and puffy.” Mom’s pale blue eyes revealed the depth of her concern.

Hannah swallowed a couple of times, unsure of her voice. “I…I don’t want to move. Just the thought of it makes me feel ill. I want to stay right here in Lancaster County.”

Mom stepped up to Hannah and gathered her into her arms. “I wish you didn’t have to move, either, but Timothy’s your husband, which means your place is with him.” She gently patted Hannah’s back. “Your daed and I will miss you, but we’ll come to visit as soon as you get settled in.”

“But that probably won’t be for some time.” Hannah nearly choked on the sob rising in her throat. “We’ll be staying with Timothy’s brother Samuel until we get a place of our own, and I–I’m not sure how that’s going to work out.”

“I understand your concerns. From what you’ve told me, Samuel has a lot on his hands, having four
kinner
to raise and all. He’ll no doubt appreciate your help.”

Hannah stiffened. “Do you think Samuel will expect me to watch the children while he’s at work?”

“Maybe. It would mean he wouldn’t have to pay anyone else to watch them—unless, of course, he decides to pay you.”

“It’s my understanding that Esther Beiler’s been watching them, but I suppose that could change with me living there.”

Mom pulled out a chair at the table and took a seat. “You’ll just have to wait and see, but hopefully it’ll all work out.”

Hannah wasn’t sure about that. She hadn’t planned on taking care of four more children. “Moving to a strange place and being around people she isn’t used to seeing will be difficult for Mindy. My little girl is going to need my attention more than ever.”

“That’s true. It will be an adjustment. But Mindy’s young, and I’m sure she’ll quickly adapt to her new surroundings,” Mom said.

Hannah sighed. She didn’t think anything about their move to Kentucky would work, and to be honest, she hoped it wouldn’t, because if things went badly, Timothy might see the light and move back to Pennsylvania where they belonged.

C
HAPTER
2

Lexington, Kentucky

H
annah shifted on the seat, trying to find a comfortable position. After tearful good-byes to their families last night, she, Timothy, and Mindy had left home at four this morning and spent the last ten hours on the road. The few hours of sleep Hannah had managed to get while riding in Charles Thomas’s van had done little to relieve her fatigue and nothing to soften the pain of leaving Pennsylvania.

Why couldn’t Timothy understand the closeness she and Mom felt? Didn’t he care about anyone’s needs but his own? When they’d first gotten married, he’d said he loved her and wanted to spend the rest of his life making her happy. Apparently he’d lied about that. Maybe he’d told her what she wanted to hear so she would agree to marry him. He probably only wanted a wife to cook, clean, and give him children, because he sure didn’t seem to care about her wants or needs—or for that matter, what was important to her. Hannah’s inner voice told her this wasn’t true, but somehow it just felt better to think so.

She glanced at her precious daughter sleeping peacefully in the car seat beside her. Mindy resembled Hannah’s mother in some ways. She had the same blond hair and pale blue eyes, but she had her daddy’s nose and her mama’s mouth. If they had more children, Hannah wondered what they would look like. Oh, how she wished for another baby. A little brother or sister for Mindy would be so nice. She thought about the miscarriage she’d had last year and wished once more that the baby had lived.

Seems like I never get what I want
, Hannah thought bitterly.
Makes me wonder why I even bother to pray
.

Hannah’s inner voice told her again that she shouldn’t feel this way. Looking at Mindy, she knew how blessed she was to have such a special little girl.

She glanced toward the front of the van where Timothy sat talking to their driver. It made her feel sick to hear the excitement in Timothy’s voice as he told Charles about the phone call he’d had with his twin brother, Titus, last night. Titus was married to Suzanne now, and Samuel and Esther would probably be married soon, as well. Both Samuel and Titus were happy living in Kentucky, but Hannah was certain she would never be happy there.

Hannah leaned her head against the window and closed her eyes as the need for sleep overtook her. She wished she could wake up and discover that this was all just a bad dream and find herself home in her own bed. But of course, that was just wishful thinking. At least for now, sleep was her only means to escape the dread that kept mounting the closer they got to their destination.

Timothy glanced at the backseat and was pleased to see that his wife and daughter were both sound asleep. They’d pushed hard all day, only stopping to get gas, eat, and take bathroom breaks. If all went well, they should be in Pembroke by this evening.

A sense of excitement welled in Timothy’s soul. It would be good to see his brothers again, and he could hardly wait to start a new life in Kentucky, where he’d been told that land was cheaper and more abundant. Since their house in Pennsylvania had already sold, he had the money to begin building a home. The problem would be finding the time to build it, since he’d only be able to work on it when he wasn’t painting with Samuel. Of course, it might be better if he could find a home that had already been built—maybe a place that needed some work and he could fix up in his spare time. Well, he’d decide about that once he’d had a chance to look around.

“How are you holding up?” Charles asked, running his fingers through his slightly thinning gray hair, while glancing over at Timothy. “Do you need to take a break?”

“Naw, I’m fine. Just anxious to get there is all.”

Charles nodded. “I’m sure. It’s been a long day, but we’re making good time. According to my GPS, we should be in Pembroke by six-thirty or so, barring anything unforeseen.”

“That sounds good. If I can borrow your cell phone, I’ll call and leave a message for Samuel so he knows what time to expect us.”

“Sure, no problem.” Charles handed Timothy his phone.

Timothy dialed Samuel’s number and was surprised when a young boy answered the phone. He hadn’t expected anyone to be in the phone shanty.

“Hello. Who’s this?” he asked.

“It’s Leon. Who’s this, and who are ya callin’ for?”

“It’s your uncle Timothy, and I’m calling to let your daed know that we’re in Kentucky and should be at your place around six thirty.”

“Oh, good. Should I tell Esther to have supper ready then?”

“Is Esther there now?”

“Jah.
Daadi’s
still at work, and Esther’s here with me, Marla, Penny, and Jared.”

“Okay, will you let your daed know when he gets home from work what time to expect us? Oh, and if Esther doesn’t mind holding supper till we get there, we’d surely appreciate it. It’ll save us some time if we don’t have to stop and eat somewhere.”

“Sure, no problem. I’ll tell ’em both what you said.”


Danki
, Leon. See you soon.” Timothy hung up and put the phone back in the tray. “I think Esther will have supper waiting for us when we get there,” he said to Charles. “So we shouldn’t have to stop again except if you need gas or someone needs a bathroom break.”

“Sounds good. Nothing like a good home-cooked meal to look forward to. Would you mind letting the other drivers know?”

“Don’t mind a’tall.” Timothy called each of their drivers, who were transporting his family’s belongings, then settled back and closed his eyes. If he slept awhile, the time would pass more quickly.

Just think
, he told himself,
in a few more hours, I’ll be sitting in my brother’s kitchen, sharing a meal and catching up on all his news. Sure hope I get to see Titus and Suzanne this evening, too. I can’t wait to find out how they’re doing
.

C
HAPTER
3

Pembroke, Kentucky

W
e’re here, Hannah! Better wake Mindy up so we can greet Samuel and his family.”

Hannah’s eyes snapped open, and she bolted upright in her seat. The moment she’d been dreading was finally here. She could see by his expression that Timothy was excited. Too bad she didn’t share his enthusiasm.

Hannah fiddled with her head covering to be sure it was on straight then gently nudged her rosy-cheeked daughter’s arm. “Wake up, Mindy,” she said softly, so as not to frighten the child. Ever since Mindy had been a baby, she’d been a hard sleeper, and if she was awakened too abruptly, she either cried or became grumpy. It was better if she was allowed the freedom to wake up on her own, but right now that wasn’t possible.

“Let’s get out and stretch our legs before we go inside.” Timothy had the van door open before Hannah could even unbuckle the seat belt holding Mindy in her car seat. They’d no more than stepped out of the van when Samuel rushed out the door to greet them. “It’s mighty good to see you, brother!” he said, giving Timothy a big bear hug.

“It’s good to see you, too.” Timothy’s smile stretched ear to ear as he pounded Samuel’s back.

“It’s nice to see you, as well,” Samuel said, turning to Hannah and giving her a quick hug. “How was your trip?”

“It was long, and I’m stiff and tired.” Hannah knew her voice sounded strained, and probably a bit testy, but she couldn’t help it. She didn’t want to be here, and there was no point in pretending she did. Life was perfect back home in Pennsylvania—at least, she thought so.

Samuel nodded with a look of understanding. “I remember how tired the Kinner and I felt when we got here last year.” He smiled at Mindy and reached his hand out to her, but she quickly hid behind Hannah.

“She’s a little shy—especially since she hasn’t seen you in a while,” Timothy said. “I think she just needs some time to get reacquainted.”

Woof! Woof!
A black lab bounded out of the barn and headed straight for Mindy. When Mindy screamed, Timothy quickly scooped her into his arms.

“Sorry about that.” Samuel grabbed the dog’s collar. “Lucky gets excited when he sees someone new to play with,” he said.

Hannah frowned. “Mindy’s too little to play with a dog that big. She’s obviously afraid of it.”

“I’ll put the dog away. Come on, boy.” Samuel led the dog back to the barn.

I don’t think our daughter wants to be here any more than I do
, Hannah thought.
Why can’t you see that, Timothy? Why couldn’t we have stayed in Pennsylvania? How can you expect Mindy or me to like it here? I’ll never consider Kentucky my home
.

Samuel had just returned from the barn when his four children rushed out of the house, followed by a pretty, young Amish woman with dark hair and milk-chocolate-brown eyes.

“Esther, you remember Timothy when he came for Titus and Suzanne’s wedding, and I’d like you to meet his wife, Hannah, and their daughter, Mindy,” Samuel said. It was obvious from his smiling face that he loved her deeply.

Esther smiled warmly and gave Hannah a hug.

“It’s nice to meet you,” Hannah said, forcing a smile.

“It’s real good to see you again,” Timothy said, shaking Esther’s hand.

Samuel smiled down at his children. “So what do you think, Timothy? Have the kinner grown much since you last saw ’em?”

Timothy nodded. “They sure have. I hardly recognize Leon, he’s gotten so tall, and when I called earlier, I didn’t realize at first it was him on the phone. And would you look at Marla, Penny, and Jared? They’ve all grown a lot, too!”

Charles stepped out of the van, and Timothy introduced him to Samuel and Esther.

BOOK: the STRUGGLE
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