…stories and poetry to touch, teach, & turn the heart toward truth.

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Story of Hope, Chapter 8

Monica stormed out of the house, so mad she couldn't even cry. She nearly broadsided a young man in a tie riding a sturdy farm horse. In a less severe circumstance, she might have been tempted to laugh at his appearance.

In a lesser circumstance, she might have recognized him from the stand at the market. Right now, though, all she could think about was how mad she was, how bad she had it, and how much she wanted something terrible to happen to that man in the house behind her.

She stormed down three streets before she even began to think about where she was traveling. Her subconscious was navigating for her, though, because she was already half way to Mrs. Townsend's house, and that was exactly where she intended to go–and stay.

Monica could return for her belongings tomorrow, but right now she just needed to get as far away from Oliver Swarth as possible. She had little way of knowing what the future would hold, but regardless, she was fairly certain things were over between she and the man she once vowed to love forever. God help her.

Nina had enjoyed herself this day more than she had in weeks, maybe even months, but she knew nonetheless that it was time to go home and return to reality. The quilt would still be waiting for her next week, and Anna had already promised to work on some stitching each night to help quicken the project along. From the looks of things so far, it would be a real treasure for Anna's sister and her baby. Nina smiled as she considered it.

Her eyes drifted as she walked through the rising shadows of the city streets, able to catch just the tips of the cotton candy clouds glowing in the brilliant hues of the setting sun. A longing came over her then for a world much different from her own. This had been occurring more and more recently, and she couldn't quite place what was causing it to originate, or what it meant. She longed for freedom. She longed for security, the kind that she only was able to glimpse when wrapped tightly in her father's arms. She longed to feel loved–not to just know that she was loved somewhere deep inside, but to truly feel it throughout her entire being. She wanted peace in this world, and quite frankly, that troubled her. She truthfully didn't know how or where she would ever find it.

Jamin looked at the darkening sky and decided, with much downheartedness, that it was time to give up and go home. No one knew a girl by the name of Nina, and he couldn't believe that he'd never inquired about her last name or her parents' names. He'd been stupid to try to find her, he decided. What made him think she would want to see him, if she hadn't even told him her name?

Chiding himself for what was unlikely to be the last time, he gave Cowboy a nudge and started back for the farm. At least he would be done suffering the stares of these snooty city folk snickering at the country boy in suit and tie riding a farm horse around town. Folks could certainly be cruel.

A lone figure walked leisurely down the sidewalk to his right, and his heart skipped a beat. He recognized that cloak! Could it really be her right here in front of him?

He gingerly called out her name, and she paused, turned, and looked up at him with her sky blues eyes shining in the twilight.

She looked stunned to see him, but smiled shyly and breathed a soft, “Hello.”

“Hello, Nina.” Jamin replied almost just as softly. He was more than a little stunned that after coming all this way, he had no idea what to say to her. This was not how he'd expected to find her.

“What brings you to town?” Nina asked. She looked at him with a broad, genuine smile now, and he knew she was glad to see him. His heart seemed to jump a little.

“Actually,” he felt himself blushing, “I came to see you.” He sounded foolish when he came out and said it, but it was the truth.

Somehow, her smile grew even more. “Really?” she asked.

He laughed now, grateful for the slight break in tension. “Yeah, it sounds crazy doesn't it?”

“A little,” Nina replied, “but I'm glad you did. I was just thinking my day couldn't get much better, and then there you were!”

Now Jamin was smiling. “Where are you going?”

“Oh, I'm on my way home from my friend, Anna's, house. We are making a quilt for her sister's new baby, well it's not born yet, but…well, anyway…yeah. I'm just going home. Were you really looking for me? How did you plan to find me?”

“Well, I was just about to give up when I saw you.” Jamin explained. “It was a crazy thought riding around town asking people if they knew a girl named Nina, but I just really missed you. I had a free evening, so I thought I'd give it a try. Now that the harvest is over, I won't be at the market anymore, and I couldn't stand the thought of not seeing you again until next spring. You're a hard girl to find, though, you know! I was starting to think you didn't want me to find you–I mean, that maybe you didn't feel the same way about me, that I feel about you.”

His confidence was waning again, as his old insecurities came rushing back, but Nina's voice broke into his thoughts. “Would you think I was wierd if I told you that I think about you all the time? I didn't think I would see you again either, and I really didn't like the thought of that.”

Jamin was off Cowboy and holding Nina's hands in his before either of them realized it. “Well, I sure am glad I finally found you.”



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Story of Hope, Chapter 7

Nina loved to sew. Since she was a little girl and was learning for the first time how to line her pointy little needle up with where it needed to go in a huge piece of fresh fabric, she found herself readily consumed in the dreaming and stitching required for constructing a true masterpiece. The thing Nina loved most about sewing was that she could become truly lost in the process and forget everything else in her world–no worries as long as that needle was making its way properly through the seams.

Today, Nina’s friend, Ann, was working alongside her. Together they were making a surprise swaddling quilt for Ann’s eldest sister, Martha, who was expecting a baby in less than two months. Anyone less resolved than the two of them might have considered the task too ambitious, knowing the time limit and extent of detail they planned to put into the project. Nina and Ann, on the other hand, were not only confident of their abilities, they were altogether resolved! Martha’s baby, they reasoned, deserved no less than the best, and that was exactly what they planned to deliver.

As Nina stitched into the soft yellow cloth, she found herself dreaming about Jamin–something she did more than she would ever admit to anyone. She was wondering what he might be doing at that moment. Was he thinking about her? When would she be able to speak with him again?

She was still disappointed that she hadn’t seen him in nearly two weeks. She couldn’t help but worry if he was alright, and she’d kicked herself repeatedly for not speaking with his uncle last week at the market. If she hadn’t been so busy feeling sorry for herself, she might not feel so stuck right now!

If only there was a way to speak to Jamin without having to travel all the way out to wherever he lived. Before she knew it, she found herself dreaming of a world where one could fly into the sky like a bird and go wherever it pleased them. She imagined a world where one could write a letter, and no sooner were the words on paper than they were popping up in front of the person for whom they were intended.

Nina could hardly imagine such a thought, but in her dreams she longed for a world where life was only that much easier. Maybe someday, she thought. With a sigh, she turned her attention to Ann’s needlework, and asked her what she thought Martha’s baby would be like.

Monica sat down, and finally looked Olly in the eyes. The guardedness fell from her eyes, and was replaced by a darkness he had never before seen in her.

“Last month, things reached an all time low for us here.” she began. “We needed money, and I didn’t know what to do…” She paused, and looked down at her hands as tears filled her eyes. Olly felt a sense of dread inching its way into his thoughts as he weighed the possibilities of where this story could go.

“I didn’t know what to do,” she stressed again, “but when I was on my way to the market one day, I noticed some men outside the pub eyeing me the way men do, and it gave me a crazy idea that I thought might work.” She met his eyes again, begging for mercy. “So, the next night I snuck out after Nina went to bed and found some men on the other side of town who were willing to…” she choked on her own words now, and began to cry, looking dejected and alone–lost.

When the dots connected in his mind, Olly felt his heart sink. “How many times?” he dared to ask.

Monica looked almost relieved to have the truth out, though the hardness of her features was still present. She was only sitting about five feet from him, but the distance between them felt like it could span an ocean. Her reply came back flat and cold, “Five times. The fifth time Nina followed me, and I didn’t know it. She found out. We haven’t spoken a word to each other since.

The truth was finally out, and it bit deeply with heartbreaking pain. Behind it followed the questions.

How could she sell her body? Of all the ways she could have hurt him, how could she do something so shameful as to sell herself? And how could she do this to Nina!

The words exploded from him before he even thought about measuring his emotions. “Were you trying to hurt me? What did I ever do to deserve this kind of betrayal? Did you forget I still existed?”

She shot back, just as explosively, “What was I supposed to do? We didn’t have enough money, Olly! You left me alone with our daughter and we literally didn’t have any money. It was all gone. What choice did I have? What else could I have done? I was alone and desperate, with no better job prospects, and somehow it made sense at the beginning. I just thought…”

“You thought what?” He let it all go now, “You thought you would ruin my life the way you’ve convinced yourself that I have ruined yours? Well guess what, Monica, you ruined a lot more than you could have dreamed. You’ve ruined your own life, you’ve ruined our relationship, and worst of all you’ve ruined your relationship with the daughter you always dreamed of. Monica, that girl has put up with a lot from you over the years, but this time was more than just a mistake. You have shattered her! I have never seen a young lady so broken in my life.”

“Well I’m sure you’ve seen your fair share of broken young ladies over the years! How dare you speak to me like this and expect me not to know that you’ve been sleeping around on all over the world?” Monica was ready for an all out vocal brawl, but Olly ignored her prod.

“I’m talking about our daughter right now. Don’t come at me with your jabs, just because you’re on the spot. Nina is strong, but I think you might have outdone yourself with her this time. I’m a grown man. I can take care of myself. I’ll get over it. I’ve made my own mistakes, I’ll admit, but that’s not what we’re talking about, Monica. The question you need to ask yourself is, ‘What are you going to do about Nina?’ She’s going to carry this around with her for the rest of her life, and the way she deals with it can be helped or worsened by you. That girl needs a mom, and right now she doesn’t have one. Do you want her to grow up the way you did? Are you willing to let her become a lonely, sorry mess like you, or are you going to do something about it?”

He’d gone too far, and he knew it. Monica stood up and walked out of the house. Olly didn’t see her for two weeks after that.