Today, Veronica reflects on all that has happened in the last day.
Veronica Wakes to Find Her Daughter Asleep
The next morning is Sunday. We’ve slept in Reverend Steadman’s own home. His wife and two children all slept together in the same bed, and Reverend Steadman slept on the floor just so that Amy could sleep in their bed. I tried to lie down next to her but as soon as she felt my body settling down next to her she jumped with a start and screamed in terror. I stroked her head then lay down on the floor next to her. The Reverend ’s wife was kind enough to give us piles of wool blankets to sleep on. Funny thing is by the looks of their supplies I don’t reckon we are the first strangers to wander into town and sleep on their floor. The night was long. So many hours of Amy waking to fight away invisible enemies that attacked her in her sleep. How can so much have happened to her in just a few weeks? Then, next to me my husband, who the doctor bandaged up, is moaning in his sleep. We are a sorry trio that awakes to Reverend Steadman’s wife’s sweet trill voice speaking to the children by the hearth. She offers me a steaming cup of black coffee and I take it in both hands and sit down at a chair by the hearth. I let Amy and William sleep, while I sit still and drink coffee and gather my thoughts and worry into a gossamer ball.
Reverend Steadman has already left the house by the time I wake up, no doubt to prepare his 9 AM sermon while his wife is left busy tending their small children: a five year old girl and a nine year old boy. The boy is already outside chopping wood while the young girl sits at the hearth playing with her handmade doll. How long ago was it when Amy and her brother played like this at my skirts? Oh, Joe. His memory comes back to me like a cold breeze. I haven’t thought about him in so long I feel guilty. It was another life and it feels so far away.
I startle to William’s voice. He is by my side, his face an awful discoloration of blue and red. One eye still swollen shut. Pain etched into his jaw. But, he is awake, and standing, which by comparison is a huge improvement. Mrs. Steadman sees him standing next to me and also offers him a steaming cup of coffee. He gingerly squats on the floor next to me without saying a word.
After a while he asks, “How is she?” Nodding over in Amy’s direction.
“She’s sleeping, and she’s back with us.” I say. I’ve already told him about how we went back. How Reverend Steadman had gotten the man, Ben, to stand down and let him gather Amy from the attic where she was locked up. He had just looked at me relieved as the doctor gave him the medicine that put him to sleep.
When Amy sits bolt up in bed we both startle. She is screaming, but soon realizes she isn’t in danger.
“Ma, Pa, I’m so sorry.” Is all she says, tears falling from her eyes. “I’m so very sorry.”
We rush over to her and hold her in our arms begging her to stop crying, to not worry. Telling her there is no way she could have known that the people who advertised the job were crooks.
“You are safe now Amy.” We both say to her. And we all cry.