The Writer's Corner
Chapter 14 - The Fight
Written by Michelle Palmer
Laura McCain turned back and looked toward the house she had
lived in for the past eight years. Her eyes again filled up with
tears. Her brother Abe stopped walking when he realized she was
no longer beside him. Gently sitting his two sons on the ground,
he turned and walked back to Laura. Without saying a word, he
crouched down behind her and looked toward the house. Emily
stood in the doorway looking toward them.
“I can’t do it, Abe,” Laura sniffed as she shook her head. “I
just can’t leave them!”
Abe’s heart went out to her. He heard the hesitation in her
voice. He turned and looked at his wife. “Honey, take the boys
on up to the house. We’ll be there soon.” Julie nodded and
worked at coaxing all four of her sons home. Abe sat down behind
Laura quietly as she continued to stare at the house. He watched
Emily turn and walk inside, closing the door behind her. “Come
Laura didn’t budge. Abraham reached up and pulled her down to
sit on his lap. “When we were talking earlier, we all decided
this was best.” Abe lifted a hand and began wiping his sister’s
tears with his thumbs. “We even explained why this way was
“Abe…” Laura swallowed. “I won’t be bad! I promise! I’ll be a
big help to Emily and I’ll…”
“Laura…” Abe pressed a finger to her lips to hush her. “You are
NOT being punished! I don’t want you to think you are being
punished.” He spoke to her in a soothing voice as she continued
to cry softly.
“Emily don’t want me because…” Laura started.
“No, honey.” Abe shook his head. “Emily does want you! She wants
you to live with her very, very much.” Abe cleared his throat.
“I know this is hard for an eight year old girl to understand
but…your sister is only 18 years old. She’s still trying to
learn and grow herself and now she has the burden of taking care
of our mother. You, Laura Rose, have a lot of growing to do.
Emily would spend all her time worrying…because that’s what a
woman does…She’d worry about what you’re doing outside when she
can’t see you..she’d worry about your eating properly, getting
you to school, seeing that your chores are done…She doesn’t need
all that worry, honey.” Abe brushed Laura’s hair back from her
face and smiled tenderly at her. “It’s not your fault…it’s just
the way we were made.”
“But Peter and Tiffany…” Laura started.
Abe shook his head. “Peter isn’t much older – twenty-one years
old…He’s just learning how to be a man. He and Tiffany just had
a baby. They have never been parents before, so it’s going to be
quite an adjustment…Again, this is nobody’s fault, but it’s just
the way it is.”
Laura stared down toward the house. “I just…” She stopped and
turned to look at her brother. “It’s not that I don’t love ya,
Abe shook his head. “I understand, honey. But…” Abraham lowered
his head. “I’m sorry you have to go through this, Laura Rose.
Julie and I will try to understand. We’ll be patient and help
you make this adjustment.”
“Can I…go see Mama tonight?”
“We’ll see, honey. Julie and I will take you down there. We’ll
let you stay for a spell, but its best we make your visits
“Abe?” Abe raised his eyebrows. “Mama is going to die…ain’t
Abe’s eyes filled up with tears. “Ye…yes, honey. I’m afraid so.”
“Very soon. Remember, she’s my Ma too. My heart’s really sad as
well. This is so hard…for me…” Abe allowed his tears to fall so
Laura could see that he was really hurt over what was happening.
Laura reached up and brushed one of his tears away. “I think
Julie’s worried about you. Can we go…” Abe swallowed as he said
the word. “…home now and show her you’ll be okay?” Laura nodded.
Abe stood and carried her toward her new home.
When they walked inside, Julie looked up from the table where
she was changing David’s diaper. She paused in her task. Laura
stood in the doorway and looked up at Abe who winked and nodded.
“You know…” Laura started as she walked inside. “I know how ta
Julie smiled as she straightened up. She smiled at Laura. “I
know. You’ve shown me.”
“And…” Laura lowered her head. “I even know how ta wash clothes.
Mama…” Laura stopped. She burst into tears and ran to Julie.
Julie stooped down and welcomed the little girl in her arms.
They cried together while Abe went to finish the diaper change.
Julie kissed Laura then laid her hands on Laura’s cheeks and
looked into her eyes. “I’m so sorry, Laura. I’m sorry for the
pain you have to go through. I can’t take it away but…” Julie
slid her hands down onto Laura’s shoulders. “…I’ll try to be
here so we can talk.”
Laura looked up at Abe. “How ‘bout Abe? Will you be here for him
“Of course…” Julie swallowed. “Of course I will. I’ll help you
both.” She looked at the bag by the door. “Would you like to
take your clothes in the bedroom? I bet Abe can hang some pegs
on the wall.”
The house was built with just two bedrooms. Abe and Julie had
talked about building a third during her last pregnancy, but a
chain of events never allowed the plan to materialize.
Currently, the triplets were still using their over-sized
cradles to sleep while Charlie slept in a big boy bed. A second
bed was in there for those times Laura had to stay over. Now it
would be her bed.
Abraham and Laura worked until lunch time rearranging the things
for her part of the bedroom. After blessing was said, Laura
asked her brother about her own room. Abe shot Julie a look as
he shifted uncomfortable in his chair. “Well…” He swallowed his
stew as he tried to put his thought into words. “We’ll have to
see, honey. Since the locusts destroyed our crops, things are
going to be tight and…”
“But Julie said we could!” Laura cried out.
“Laura, don’t raise your voice to me!” Abe ordered. He cleared
his throat. “Julie and I haven’t talked about it. I…”
“Abe…” Abe looked toward Julie. “Uh…can we discuss this later?”
She looked toward Laura. Abe nodded, knowing she wanted to
‘discuss’ it with him, and he had a pretty good idea of where
the discussion was going to lead. “I was hoping, Laura, that you
could help me with laundry this afternoon. Then if Abe can kill
a chicken, you can help me clean it and I’ll fix fried chicken
“Then we can go check on Ma?” Laura asked hopefully.
Julie looked toward Abe. “Uh…we’ll see,” Abe mumbled as he went
back to his stew.
As it turned out, Peter stopped by just as they were finishing
supper to let Abe and Julie know that their mother was having a
bad night. She was awake and in a great deal of pain. They had
the doctor there trying to make her comfortable. Laura heard
some of the conversation and demanded to go see her mother
immediately. “Laura…” Peter bent down in front of her. “Mother
wouldn’t want you to see her when she’s hurting so badly. She
won’t even let me or Emily in the room. The doctor’s there and
won’t leave until she’s asleep. Maybe tomorrow.”
The news upset Laura very much. Julie asked Laura to help her
with the dishes, but Laura just sat in her chair with her head
propped up in her hands. “Laura, Julie asked you to help her
with the dishes.”
Laura defiantly narrowed her eyes at Abe. “NO!” she shouted.
Abe grew angry and started to stand from his chair, but Julie
put a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t, Abe.” Julie turned and
looked at Laura. “Now, I know you are hurting, Laura. We are all
hurting and we have to help each other out. By saying no, you’re
not only hurting yourself...you are also hurting your
brother…and me…very much.” Julie held out a dirty plate to her.
“Now…come help me in the kitchen.”
Laura stared at the plate then she looked up at Abe. “Fine.” She
followed Julie to the kitchen and silently pouted as she helped
with the dishes.
After the dishes, Abe and Julie worked at putting the boys down
for the night. It was early, but they had had a long day. Laura
sat at the table, still pouting, and looking through a picture
book. “I think you should turn in as well,” Julie suggested as
she came out of the bedroom.
“I don’t have to go to bed until 8:30!” Laura said. She looked
at the clock on the mantle. “It’s only 7:00.”
Abe took a deep breath. Julie put a warning hand on his arm
again, but he shook his head. “Now, let’s get one thing
straight, young lady!” Abe bent down in front of her. “You are
hurting like the rest of us. But I’M in charge here and you will
follow MY rules. One of those rules is to go to bed when we tell
you to. The next time you talk back, you WILL be punished.” Abe
stood up and pointed toward the bedroom. “Now, get ready to go
to bed. When you’re ready, we’ll come in and kiss you
Laura stood as hot, angry tears burned her face. “Alright. I’ll
get ready for bed and I’ll GO to bed, but I don’t want you to
kiss me goodnight! My Mama kisses me goodnight! Emily kisses me
goodnight! But NOT you!” She cried as she ran to the bedroom and
slammed the door. Julie jumped when she heard one of the boys
start to cry.
Julie stared at the door. She turned and glared at Abe. “Was
that really necessary, Abe?” she asked in a calm voice.
“Julie, she has to understand…”
“YOUR in charge? YOUR rules?” Julie repeated his words to Laura.
“Since when was I not included in these decisions?”
“Julie…” Abe started.
“I’ll take care of it, Abe. You…go bed down the stock!” Julie’s
voice was angry when she spoke to him. Abraham quickly walked
out the door.
When Julie walked into the bedroom, Laura kept her back turned
while she changed into her nightgown. Julie patted Sammy’s back
until he went back to sleep. Then she went to sit on Laura’s
bed. Laura stood, her back still turned to Julie. “Sit.”
Laura obeyed and sat down beside her. “Honey, I’m not your
enemy. I want to be your friend. I want to help you through
“Abe’s being so mean!” Laura declared.
“Abe…” Julie sighed. “…he’s being Abe. He doesn’t mean to be
mean but…he’s right. You live in our home now. You have to live
by our rules, and you can’t use your mother or sister to lash
out at us when things don’t go your way.”
“He wouldn’t let me see my Mama!” Laura declared.
“Because she’s in a lot of pain. She doesn’t want you to see her
that way.” Julie waited for Laura to nod in understanding.
“Okay. Now let’s get under the covers.” Julie put the covers
over Laura. She started to bend down and kiss her but remembered
Laura’s words from earlier. “Good night, Laura.” But Laura said
nothing. Her eyes were closed.
Julie went out to work on sewing a torn shirt of Charlie’s. She
knew this adjustment wouldn’t be easy for any of them, but it
was one that would have to be made. It was quite some time
before Abe came back inside. She didn’t look up at him as he
hung his hat on the peg and put his gun belt on its peg for the
night. “Can’t believe how hot it still is out there.” Abe turned
and looked at Julie, but Julie continued sewing. Abe walked over
to the stove and poured himself a cup of coffee.
He went to sit at the desk. “Got another bill from the General
Store. I reckon I’ll have to pay that one first.” He still got
no response. “I think the hat you bought for that wedding will
set us back for quite some time.” He tried to tease, but his
voice didn’t quite go that way.
From behind him, he heard Julie drop her sewing and stand up.
Without saying a word, she stomped across the room and slammed
the door to their bedroom. Abe jammed his pen down and stared at
the desk. He knew Julie believed he’d done something wrong, and
in time Julie would surely tell him what it was. It wasn’t often
she gave him the silent treatment…in fact, when she thought he
was in the wrong she was really vocal about it. He’d prefer that
way from her not saying anything at all.
Abe tried to concentrate on doing the books. He put a hand to
his head, unsure of where the needed money was going to come
from. Things were going to be mighty tight until they brought in
next year’s crops, he knew that. He hesitated spending the money
his father had saved up, and he hesitated spending Lucas’s
money. His father had been proud, and Abraham was turning out to
be the same way. It was his nature…
Abe stood and stretched. He looked toward his bedroom, knowing
he would have to face Julie sooner or later. Finally, he blew
out the lantern and made his way to the bedroom to see if he
could find out just what he had apparently done wrong.
Julie wasn’t in bed, but was standing at the window staring out
into the darkness. “Thought you’d be in bed,” Abe said as he sat
down to take his boots off.
“She’s got to have her own room, Abe…” Julie said quietly.
Abe’s hands froze on his boot. “What?”
Julie turned around. “I said she’s got to have her own room.”
“I know, and she will. But not now,” Abe answered in a
“Abe…” Julie walked towards him as she motioned toward the
bedroom door. “You can’t expect her to sleep in a room with four
other little boys! She’s eight years old and…”
Abe felt his temper flaring. He closed his eyes as he slowly
stood up. “It will have to wait, Julie.” His voice held warning.
Every McCain brother had that warning voice, and most people
knew to heed it.
But Julie wasn’t most people.
“It can’t wait, Abe!” Julie’s voice rose a bit as she glared at
“Julie…” Abe’s voice rose considerably. He took a deep breath
and turned from her, trying to calm his voice down. But when he
turned, his face was red and his eyes flashed. “I was just
sitting out there at my desk trying to figure out how to put
food on my family’s table…how to feed my wife and children…and
YOU are angry with me because I can’t build Laura a bedroom?”
“Can’t?” Julie asked as she took another step toward him. “Or
“Can’t!” Abe planted his hands on his hips as he continued to
glare at her. “There is no money!”
“What are you talking about???” Julie shouted. “You have money
in the bank! Your father set money aside and Luke…”
“I don’t want to spend that money!” Abraham hollered. “I think
we can make it through if…”
“Abe, stop yelling. You’ll wake the children,” Julie said in a
“What the BLAZES is this???” Abe hurried toward the bedroom
door. “My mother is up there dying and you are yelling at me
about giving Laura her own bedroom?” Abe punched the door with
his fist, causing Julie to jump. “How can I focus on anything
else when Ma is dying? I’m going to have to bury my mother
soon…I’m having to take in my sister…that’s ANOTHER mouth I have
to feed! And yet you want her to have her own ROOM?”
Abe started pacing the floor. “Abe, there are some things you
“I’ve NEVER had my own room! Growing up, I shared my room with
my brothers! First there was Jeremiah, then Peter, and finally
Luke! I never complained when each new brother moved right in!
Emily and Laura never complained and…”
“You aren’t listening to me, Abe! You aren’t hearing what I’m
saying!” Julie turned from him and wiped at her face. She turned
back around and looked her husband in the eye. “And another
thing…you have GOT to be easy with her! She’s acting out because
she’s confused and hurting and…”
“What’s that got to do with having her own bedroom???”
“You were too hard on her tonight! You can’t expect-“
“Look Julie, I’m doing the best I can. I don’t know what you
expect me to do!” Julie turned from him and went to the bed.
“What are you doing now?”
“I’m going to sleep!” Julie snapped as she pulled back the
“We’re talking!” Abe argued.
“No Abe!” Julie sat down on the bed. “You’re yelling! You are
not listening!” She laid down. “Goodnight!”
Abraham stomped over to the bed and stared as she turned her
back to him. How had things suddenly gotten so out of control?
As quietness came over their bedroom once again, his angry words
echoed in his head. He remembered back to after his father died
and how bad he had gotten. But now, the pressure seemed much
greater. Abraham slowly sat down on the side of the bed and put
his head in his hands. “Maybe tomorrow we can talk about this
like two rational adults. Maybe I can get you to understand…”
Abe started in a calm voice.
“I said goodnight,” Julie’s muffled voice answered. Abe quickly
undressed and slipped under the covers. He turned on his side
away from her, but never went to sleep.
Outside their bedroom door, a little girl had listened to most
of the conversation. She cried, realizing she was the reason
they were fighting. She was a burden to her brother. God was so
When Julie woke up the next morning, Abe was gone. She hadn’t
slept very well and knew Abe hadn’t slept either. But she had
nothing to say that wouldn’t provoke more angry words between
them. As she got up from the bed and started dressing, she wept.
She didn’t only weep because she and Abe were at odds; she was
mostly weeping for the pain Abe and Laura were feeling. She knew
Ruth’s death would be a big blow to the family.
Julie walked toward the door. She paused and tried to force the
anger she felt down. Then she opened the door.
Laura was in the bedroom helping Abe get the boys dressed.
“Morning,” Abe greeted her shortly. Julie merely nodded her head
and went to start breakfast. She saw sadness in Laura’s eyes.
The sadness was deeper and more intense this morning then it had
been the night before and she wondered what had caused it.
Perhaps Laura was beginning to realize that her mother really
Julie fixed breakfast while Abe went to do his morning chores
and Laura entertained the boys. Abe said a very short prayer
before they ate. After breakfast, Laura helped with the dishes
without saying a word. Julie suspected she knew why Laura had
been so willing. After the last dish was in the cupboard, Laura
turned and announced, “Well…I’m ready.”
Abe paused at cleaning his gun and looked up at his sister.
“Ready? For what?” he asked.
“Well…” Laura turned to look at Julie. “You said I could go see
Ma this morning.”
“Laura, I..” Abe started.
But Julie jumped in before he could get any further. “I think
you should.” Julie wiped her hands on her apron. “I’ve got lots
of chores around for you to help me with this afternoon, but
while you’re there see if you can do anything for Emily, ya
“Thanks!” Laura ran toward the front door. “I will!”
Abraham slowly stood from his chair as Julie went to boil some
water to wash the floors. “Abe, I’d appreciate you setting the
play pen out in the shade for the boys this morning. I want to
get this floor scrubbed.”
“Why did you do that?” Abe asked suddenly as he stood right
behind her. His voice held anger.
“THAT…tell Laura she could go see Mother…Why, Julie?”
Julie paused and closed her eyes. “Because, Abe, her mother is
DYING. Laura is feeling so many emotions and…”
“You just undermined my authority, you know. You made me look
like a FOOL in front of the children!”
“I did no such thing!” Julie declared. “I just…”
“You did! I was answering and you just jumped right in with
your…” Abraham stopped.
“I broke in because you were about to deny your sister
permission to go see you Mother!” Julie declared. “That little
girl needs to see her mother! She has to come to terms with
what’s happened – even if it means sitting by her bedside
holding her hand! Laura is a confused little girl about to lose
her mother and I…”
“Mama!” Charlie cried. Julie bent down and picked Charlie up.
“Now, if you will please set up the playpen outside…”
No more words were spoken between the couple. Abraham went to
get the supplies to start working on the fence around their yard
while Julie went back inside to clean the floor. The triplets
played while Abraham kept an eye on them. Only a couple hours
later, Laura came over the hill with Peter. She was crying and
clinging to her brother. Abraham took out his kerchief and wiped
the sweat from his neck as they approached.
“Margaret will be here this afternoon. Emily said you can send
Laura back down then. She can stay the afternoon.”
Abraham nodded as he looked down at Laura. “Alright.” He could
tell Laura was sad. “You want to talk about it?”
“No sir,” Laura answered. She walked toward the house. Abe
watched her go.
“Something wrong with her,” Peter stated.
“Yes.” Abe nodded. “Her mother’s dying. She suddenly has a new
home…One day things were fine and the next her world was turned
“It’s more than that. She doesn’t think anybody wants her.”
“We talked about that yesterday!” Abe declared. “I thought we
had it all settled.”
Peter narrowed his eyes as he looked at his brother.
“Something’s wrong with you. What is it?”
“No,” Abraham sighed. “Nothing’s wrong. I…” He sighed and shook
his head. “McCain’s can never hide things from each other. We
know each other too well.” Abe lowered his head. “Our mother’s
dying…I’m trying to figure out how to get us through this next
year…and…” Abe looked toward the house. “Julie and I had a big
fight last night.”
“Well…let’s just say that there was a thick sheet of ice on my
bed last night.”
“Oh yeah!” Abe answered.
“Separate sides of the bed and never in the tween shall meet?”
“Mmmm….” Peter sighed and shook his head. “Care to tell me what
“Not right now.” Abe turned and looked toward the house. “Let’s
just say it’s about Laura.” Peter opened his mouth to speak.
“…not about her living here, but about other things, and about
“I see.” Peter looked at the holes Abe was digging. “Looks like
you could use some help.”
“I told Laura she could help me.”
“Alright. I best get back to my family.” He patted Abe on the
shoulder. “Hang in there. Things will get tougher before they
Julie stood in the doorway. “Abe, Laura’s fixing sandwiches. Can
you get Charlie washed up so we can eat? We’ll eat outside.”
Abe obeyed. The conversation during lunch was stiff. Anyone
there would know Abe and Julie were at odds. Laura helped Abe
with the fence until Margaret came by to get her. Abe watched
her leave with Margaret before continuing his work.
Abe came inside for a drink of water. Julie was just exiting the
bedroom from laying the boys down for their nap. She gathered up
laundry and went to fill up her laundry tubs. Abe worked,
glancing over at her every now and then. But neither spoke. So
much had been said last night. Neither Julie nor Abe knew how to
make things right. So they went throughout their afternoon
without mentioning their fight.
The boys’ woke and came to play outside while Julie started
supper. Abe stopped his fencing to play with them for a bit.
Supper was ready but Laura wasn’t back yet. “I think I should go
get her,” Abe stated as he looked towards the main farm.
“I’m sure she’s fine,” Julie mumbled from the kitchen.
“She shouldn’t be down there so much. It’s not good for her.”
“And you know what’s best for her, I’m sure…” Julie mumbled as
she continued to prepare supper.
“Let’s not start!” Abe shouted suddenly. “I think enough has
been said on the matter!”
“Abe, this morning I wasn’t trying to undermine your authority!
I was trying to help Laura!”
“You shouldn’t have spoken out of turn!” Abe snapped. “I was
handling the situation just fine!”
“Just fine? Abe, you were trying to keep her from your mother!
Abe whirled around and glared at Julie once again. “I know she’s
dying! My mother is leaving me! She’s leaving Laura! She’s
leaving all of us to go to Pa! My mother is going to die!!!” Abe
had tears in his eyes. He hurried to the front door and opened
“Where are you going?” Julie asked suddenly.
“I’m going to see my mother and fetch my sister!” Abe stomped
out the door, giving it a hard slam on his way out. Julie
jumped. The triplets started crying. Charlie looked up at his
mother who burst into tears.
“She’s been in there all afternoon, Abe. She’s just holding her
hand and cries every once in a while. Ma’s spoken to her a few
times. She knows Laura’s there and I think it’s bringing her
Abraham stared blankly at Emily and nodded. Then he opened the
door. “Laura, it’s time to go home.”
Laura heard it in his voice. It was laced with anger and regret.
She knew Abe didn’t really want her home. She was more of a
burden to him than anything else.
“She hasn’t said anything to me in three hours…” Laura said
hoarsely. “I’m afeared she’s about ta…” She stopped when Abe put
a hand on her shoulder.
“Go on home. Julie has supper on the table.” Laura obediently
stood up. She bent over and kissed her mother’s cheek. “Go on,
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Mama.” Abe’s jaw clinched when he heard
Laura’s words. He watched her leave then sat down in the chair
beside her bed.
Silently, he lifted her hand and pressed it to his cheek. “Oh…oh
Mama…I…I need you so bad.” Abraham started weeping as he looked
at his mother. Her cheeks were sunken in and her face pale. She
looked like she could die at any time. “I know you want to see
Papa, but Laura needs you…” Abe swallowed. “Well…the truth is
that…I need you too.” Abe brushed the back of his hand against
her cheek. “I…I love you, Mama.”
In time, Abe stood and went to the door. He turned back to look
at her, unsure if he’d see her again. Then he slowly stepped
out, softly closing the door behind him. “It’s happening so
fast,” he told his brother, Peter.
“I know.” Peter looked toward Emily. “Uh…I’ll walk you home.”
They stepped outside. “Has Jeremiah been by today?”
Peter nodded. “They were here most of the morning.” They walked
silently. “You and Julie still fighting?”
“Yeah. I guess so.”
“All couples fight, I reckon…”
“You and Tiffany?” Abe asked.
“You know we have,” Peter answered. “Remember the blizzard?”
“Julie and I have had our arguments, but nothing like this. It
started last night and seems to be getting worse.” They walked
silently beside each other. “You know…in all the years, I never
saw Ma and Pa fight.”
Peter stopped and turned to Abe. “You know, you’re right. Pa
seemed to bend over backwards for Ma. I can’t remember them EVER
lifting their voices at each other.” The brothers started
walking again. “I wonder what their secret was.”
“I don’t know.” Abe looked over his shoulder. “There’s so many
things I want to ask Ma now and it’s too late. Why is it we wait
until it’s too late to find out about the important things?”
They were standing outside Abe’s house now. Abe took a deep
breath as he stared at the house. “You act like you’re about to
go out onto the battlefield.”
“I am.” Abe turned and looked at Peter. “Well, goodnight.”
Abraham walked into the house. Julie was sitting in her chair
reading her Bible. Abe hung his hat up and walked over to the
stove. He poured a cup of coffee and took the plate of stew from
the warmer. “Kids in bed?”
“All but Laura,” Julie answered without looking up.
“Oh? Where’s she?”
“Went to fetch some water from the creek.” Julie turned the page
in her Bible while Abe ate silently. Finally, Julie closed her
Bible and stood up. “Being with her mother this afternoon is
helping her I think. I think she needs to…”
“Can we not discuss it for one night? I’m so tired of arguing. I
was with my mother tonight and it didn’t help me a bit.”
“Laura was able to see just how ill Ma is. She’s…”
“I said I don’t want to discuss it!” Abe raised his voice. There
was something inside him that was snapping. He didn’t understand
what it was.
They heard a sniff from behind them. Abe and Julie turned to see
Laura. She was soaked to the skin from head to toe. “I fell in.”
Julie gasped and hurried toward her. “Come on. Let’s get you
cleaned up. Abe can fetch the water.”
Abe stood up and walked to the door. He went to do the task.
When he returned with the water, Julie wasn’t there. She must be
in with Laura. He walked to the bedroom door and could hear
Julie’s soothing voice as she softly spoke to Laura. “Your
brother can be a hard man at times, but he’s a good man. He has
a lot of pressure, and often times he doesn’t know how to handle
it all. We’ll get through this.”
Abe went to his desk and sat down. Julie came out and looked
toward him, but Abe didn’t acknowledge her. “Goodnight.”
“Going to bed?” Abe stood up.
“Yes.” Julie paused at the door to their bedroom. “It’s been a
long day.” She waited before speaking again. “Will you be…coming
“Do you want me to?” Abe asked softly.
“Abe…” Julie sighed as she wiped at her eye. “There are so many
things that were said. You can’t just take them back. You’ve
hurt me. I…”
“I’ll sleep in the barn if you want.”
“Oh, you don’t have to. I…”
“No. I think its better that way,” Abe answered. “Perhaps
tomorrow will be better.”
“I’m scared, Abe. I don’t know how to fix this. I…” Julie
stopped. Whatever she was about to say died. She bit her lip.
“I don’t even know what there is TO fix, Julie. I…”
Julie lowered her eyes to the floor. “I think that’s part of the
problem, Abe. You can’t see what needs fixed.” She turned toward
the kids’ bedroom. “We can’t fix anything until you understand.
Day three found more of the same. Julie and Abe conversed just
enough to get through their task of caring for their family.
Julie seemed withdrawn that day and quickly ushered Laura out of
the house before Abe could say a word. She knew this upset Abe
even more, for he abruptly stood from the breakfast table and
hurried out the door, giving it a hard slam as he left.
But what she didn’t know is where he went. Abe walked to his
father’s grave and sat down. He stared at the headstone for a
long time before finally speaking in a broken voice. “Pa…I don’t
know what to do. I don’t even know why we’re fighting anymore.
Did you and Ma ever…fight like this? I don’t remember there ever
being a cross word between you yet…” Abe sank to the ground and
buried his head in his arms. He sobbed, wishing his could ask
his father for advice on how to fix this. Julie said he didn’t
even know what was broken, and maybe she was right.
“Abe?” Abe turned to see Samuel Gibbs standing behind him.
Samuel slowly walked up and kneeled down beside him. “I come to
talk to your father often. We were best friends, you know.”
Abe turned back to stare at the grave. “Pa would have a few
things to say to you right now, were he still alive…you leaving
your family like you did.”
Samuel sighed. “You asked your father a question just now. I…”
Abe turned and stared at Samuel. “I’m sorry I interrupted you
but…I thought you’d like to know the truth.”
“About your mother and father.” Abe turned away. “You and Julie
fighting?” Abe nodded. “Yes. Your folks were about the age you
two are now when they had their big fight.”
“What are you talking about?” Abe asked suddenly. “I never saw
my folks fight a day in their life!”
“They had their arguments,” Samuel nodded. He sat down. “It was
a hard summer. I don’t know the details of their fight…those
were carried to the grave, I suspect, but I do know that your
father came to stay at our house for two nights while they were
“What?” Abe narrowed his eyes. “When? Why?”
“Abe…like I said, I don’t know the reason for their fight. I
just know that…well, that it was ugly. Your father said he had
found himself shouting at your mother. It hurt him terribly
because he promised himself he would never yell at her.”
“What happened?” Abe asked quietly.
“Well…your father listened to what your Ma had to say. I mean,
he really listened. Seems it was about nine months later your
brother came along.” Samuel smiled. “Have you listened to her?
Have you REALLY listened to her?”
“She doesn’t understand!” Abe declared.
“Oh?” Samuel stood up. “Maybe it’s you…who doesn’t understand.”
Abe slowly stood up as he allowed those words to penetrate.
“Listen to her. Let her pour her heart out to you. You may be
surprised. As the man of the house, you owe it to her.”
“You sound pretty sober,” Abe stated.
“I was just on my way into town.”
“Why, Uncle Sam? Why not go home to your family?” Abe asked.
Sam didn’t answer. Instead, he said, “I hope things work out
between you and Julie.” Then he turned and walked away.
“Uncle Sam?” Samuel turned back. “Ma and Pa…did they argue after
Samuel nodded. “At times. I suspect every couple argues.”
“I wonder why we never knew…” Abe wondered.
If he expected some magical answer to appear, he was very
disappointed. Abe finally stood from the grave, put his hat back
on and walked to his mother’s house. When he entered, he saw Em
and Jeremiah there. “Laura still here?”
“She hasn’t left Mother’s side since she got here,” Jeremiah
“I see.” Abe walked toward his mother’s room. “This is Julie’s
doing, not mine.” He turned. “She told Laura to come down…to
spend as much time with her mother as she could.”
“She’s coming to terms with what will soon come in her own way,
Abe.” Jeremiah sat down his coffee cup. “I think you need to do
“Our mother’s dying. I know that!” Abe snapped out.
“But have you come to terms with that?” Jeremiah asked calmly.
Abe turned and glared at his brother. “I’ll ‘come to terms’ with
that fact when she’s gone! For now I…” Abe closed his eyes as he
turned to see Laura staring at him. “Laura, I…”
“Can I stay, Abe? Can I?” Laura asked, her face wet with tears.
“I think you should come home now. There’s plenty of work for
you to do at home.”
“Oh, but Abe…” Emily started. But she clamped her mouth shut
when she saw the look on her brother’s face.
“Laura, I want you to go home.” Laura turned back to look at her
mother. “Go on now.”
Laura turned and looked at Emily. Then she looked at Abe. “Abe,
“Laura…” Abe spoke in a controlled voice. “You need to obey me.
I know what’s best for you. Now…go on home.” He watched Laura
slowly walk out.
Abe went into the bedroom and closed the door to have a few
minutes alone with his mother. Then he too went home. When he
got there, he asked Julie where Laura was. “She’s in the
bedroom,” Julie answered. “What did you say to her?” Her voice
held accusation in it.
“I didn’t SAY anything to her!” Abe answered. “I just told her
to come home and help you.”
“Oh?” Julie slammed down the bread pan and turned to glare at
him. “She can’t ‘help’ me! She’s much too upset for that.”
“I’ll go…” Abe started for the bedroom door.
“I’d rather you didn’t,” Julie said quietly as she clinched the
side of the sink to keep her composure. “I’d rather you work
outside until lunch time.”
“Please…Abe…” Julie closed her eyes, keeping her back to him.
“Alright.” Abe started for the door.
“Would you take the boys out into the yard with you?”
Abe paused at the door. “Would it be too much to ask Laura to
Julie turned and looked at Abe. Then he walked out the door.
Lunch was eaten in an uncomfortable silence. The boys made their
regular noises, but Laura, Abe, and Julie sat quietly. The
moment Abe finished eating, he stood and hurried out of the
house. Julie wanted to burst into tears. “Uh, Laura…as soon as
you get the dishes done you can go on to the main house for
“Nevermind. Just do the dishes.” Julie stood. “I’m going to lay
the boys down for their nap.”
After she finished the dishes, Laura walked out the door. She
saw Abe working on the fence – the fence he said they’d work on
together. Laura walked up to Abe. “Julie said I could go down to
see Ma this afternoon.”
“Oh?” Abe grunted as he sat part of the fence in place.
“I can’t very well say no if Julie’s said yes, can I now?” Abe
answered. “Just be back by supper.” He paused to wipe some sweat
from his neck as he watched Laura make her way down the hill. He
turned to see Julie standing in the doorway. They looked at each
other, but not a word was said.
Later that afternoon Abe went inside to wash up. Julie turned to
look at him and saw the anger in the way he was acting. “You
angry with me?”
“I don’t think that even needs an answer,” Abe answered with a
“You’re angry because I told Laura to go see your mother?”
“I’m angry…” Abe threw down the towel and put his shirt on.
“…because you told her she could go without consulting me.”
“She’s MY sister!” Abraham shouted. Julie suddenly whirled
around and stared at him. Abraham shot a hand to his head,
regretting the words he had spoken.
“Yes.” Julie untied her apron. “And I’m a woman – I have no
authority to speak…I am supposed to stay SILENT and allow you to
make ALL the decisions…to just cook your meals and have your
babies!” Julie threw her apron on the counter. “Well…I won’t do
that Abe!” Julie pushed past him and ran out the door. Her eyes
filled with tears, but she wouldn’t stop.
“Julie!” Abe called. “Julie!” He started to run after her, but
turned to see the boys looking at him.
He stopped down and looked at his sons. “I did it again…” Abe
said as he shook his head.
The door opened. Abe turned, expecting to see Julie, but his
smile died when he saw Margret and Laura standing there. “I’m
glad you’re here.” Abe grabbed his hat. “I have to go find
“Where is she?” Margaret asked.
“I don’t know. But I have to find her.” Abe hurried out without
Margaret looked around the kitchen. “Well, let’s get supper on
Abe didn’t have to go far. He found Julie just over the rise
behind their house. She was sitting beside the creek. He paused,
trying to decide what to say. “Do you love me?” he found himself
Julie turned to look up at him. Her mouth opened in surprise.
Tears laid heavily on her face. “I reckon I’ll always love you,”
she answered quietly. “Can hardly think of anything that would
stop me from loving you.”
“Good.” Abe sat down beside her. “I hate fighting with you,
Julie. But I’m pretty mule-headed, you know that.” Julie nodded.
“Where do we go from here?”
“I…I don’t know, Abe.” Julie stared over the waters. “So many
things have been said.” She pressed her lips together and turned
to look at Abe. “But children can pick up on things like this. I
think Laura knows we’re fighting, and it wouldn’t take much for
her to figure out what’s going on.”
“I hate fighting,” Abe said as he slowly reached for her hand.
Julie allowed him to take it. “I hate going to bed angry…makes
for a cold night when I can’t cuddle up next to ya.” Abe
squeezed her hand when he saw a small smile on her face. “In
fact….I sorta don’t even remember what started the fight.”
“I guess I did by not telling you everything…” Julie answered.
She turned and looked at her husband. “My mother died when I was
“What?” Abe gasped. “But she’s alive…at the wedding…”
“No.” Julie shook her head. “My father married her shortly after
my mother died…within a couple months.” Julie turned and looked
out over the water. She released her hand from Abe’s, suddenly
not feeling worthy of his tenderness. “It was a really hard
time. Celia, my step mother, helped me through the ordeal but…I
never got to see my mother after she got sick. My father sent me
to stay with neighbors and he didn’t allow me to visit because
he didn’t want me to see my mother like that.”
“He was protecting you.”
“Was he?” Julie shook her head. “I never got to say goodbye. She
developed typhoid suddenly. One moment she was there and the
next…I came home from school one day only to be whisked to my
neighbors. If it wasn’t for Celia, I never would have survived
“You never told me.”
Julie stood up and went to look over the water. “That’s because
it was a very, very painful time for me, Abe. You can’t even
imagine…After my father remarried I blocked the whole horrid
event out of my life and I never had to face it again.” She
turned. “…until now. When I moved into Celia’s house, I was
forced into a room with three other children – children I didn’t
know. I needed my space to mourn and to adjust…I needed space to
feel like I was important, but I didn’t get that.”
“So what happened?”
“It was a hard, painful road, Abe. To this day, I don’t get
along with those three children – two girls and a boy. My family
didn’t have the money to give me my own room – or maybe Pa would
have but…I always felt like a fifth wheel…you know…the one
that’s underneath the wagon just in case it’s needed?” Julie
shivered as she scanned the horizon. “Incidentally, my brother
got his own room…You know, the one who died in the war?”
“Oh? You two were pretty close.” Julie nodded. “Come sit?” Julie
returned to her seat near Abe. There was still tension between
them, but Abe again took her hand in his. “Honey, we can’t build
a bedroom for every one of our children.”
“No.” Julie turned to look at him. “But the boys’ world isn’t
being turned upside down. Laura’s is. She needs to feel special.
And…” Julie shook her head. “One bedroom for five children just
won’t cut it! Someday if we have a little girl, Laura may have
to share her room again but by then she’ll feel accepted.”
“I never really stopped to think about all that. I guess I just
“She’d survive?” Abe nodded. “She will survive, Abe. But I love
Laura as if she were my daughter, and I don’t want her to grow
up feeling resentful towards our children. I want her to feel as
much a part of our family as our own children are. I know I’m
just a woman but…”
“Hm…” Abe smiled. “That’s the reason I married you. You have
thoughts and opinions, knowledge and experiences, and a whole
lot of wisdom. I should have respected that.”
“And I should have told you instead of giving you the silent
treatment then exploding like I did. I was just…trying to keep
from bringing up the truth. I didn’t want you to think ill of
“Honey, no matter how much we fight, I could never think ill of
you! You’ve given me four beautiful children. You make my life
complete. I…” Abe stopped. “I’ve said some terrible things to
you. I’m sorry.” He swallowed. “I just…don’t know how to fix
“Words often said in haste are…” Julie stopped.
“So…” Abe sighed.
Silence fell among them. Julie wasn’t sure what this all meant.
Where would they go from here? Did Abe really understand her
now? “Where are the children?”
“I left them with Margaret.” Abe stood up. “Perhaps we should
continue this discussion tonight after the children are in bed.”
“Discuss?” Julie asked as she lifted an eyebrow.
Abe put an arm around her shoulders as they started back toward
the house. The arm held tension in it. “I think we should both
think on what we want to say to the other, and talk rationally
about it.” They walked in silence the rest of the way back to
the house. Upon entering, they found Margaret wiping down the
counters. All four boys were playing quietly on their blanket.
Laura was sitting at the table writing a letter.
“Is everything better?” Margaret asked hopefully.
“They will be,” Julie smiled. “Margaret, I’m sorry we kept you
so late. Perhaps Abe should drive you home.”
“Oh no!” Margaret picked up her basket. “I’ll be fine!”
“Nonsense.” Abe opened the door for her. “After all you do for
us, it’s the least we could do.”
Julie worked at putting the children to bed while Abe was gone.
Laura continued to write a letter. When Julie walked out of the
bedroom, she heard a wagon approaching. “Laura, you should get
to bed now,” she mumbled as she looked towards the barn.
“Not yet. I’m trying to finish my letter,” Laura answered.
Julie turned. “Is that to Luke?” Laura nodded. “How’s your Ma?”
“She didn’t talk to me at all today. Emily said the doctor gave
her some medicine to make her sleep all the time.” Laura
continued writing on the sheet of paper. “I wish Emily would
quit giving her the medicine so Ma would wake up.”
“Well Laura…if Emily quit giving her the medicine, she’d be in a
lot of pain. When she’s asleep…she’s not aware of the pain.”
“But it ain’t fair! I mean…Ma’s there, but she ain’t there!”
“In some ways…she’s gone already, honey.” Julie put a hand to
Laura’s back and rubbed it up and down. “In some ways, your
mother died the day she collapsed.”
“I have to finish this letter.”
“Tomorrow, Laura. Right now, I think you should go to bed.”
Laura continued writing.
The door opened and Abe walked in. “Laura, I think it’s time for
bed.” Julie and Laura both looked up at Abe. “Go on, now. Get to
Laura abruptly stood up. She looked from Abe to Julie, then
wadded the sheet of paper up and threw it on the floor. Then she
ran to the bedroom and slammed the door shut. “That’s it!” Abe
declared as he started for the bedroom.
Julie used all her strength to keep him at bay. “NO, Abraham
McCain!” Julie said as crying erupted from the bedroom. “I was
handling it and you just stepped right in and got all nasty with
Abe stopped and pressed a hand to his forehead. He felt like
they were going around in circles. He watched Julie hurry toward
the bedroom and close the door. Abe hurried from the house and
went to the barn.
He’d been in there for thirty minutes when he heard the barn
door open. He just sat on the bench in the darkness. “Abe?”
Abe swallowed. “I…stopped by Ma’s on the way home and she’s bad,
Julie.” Julie walked to the lantern and lit it. She slowly
walked over to her husband as he sat on the bench with his
shoulders slumped. After she sat down beside him, Abe lifted his
face to hers. “She’s going to die…” he swallowed. “How will I
EVER live without her?”
Julie just sat quietly and looked at him. She wanted to put her
arms around him and give him comfort, but something stopped her.
“I wish I wasn’t such a monster when I’m under a lot of
pressure. Don’t know why you put up with me.”
“Because I love you, Abraham McCain.” Julie forced a strained
smile on her face. “And I’m here for you. I’ll be here through
the whole thing.”
“Even if we’re fighting?”
“The fighting…” Julie sighed. “Will eventually end. It always
does. We love each other too much to allow anything to stay
“Peter and I…” Abe swallowed. “We were talking earlier and
couldn’t remember a single time my parents were ever at odds.”
Julie smiled. “When you married me, you married a mule-headed
person. Two mule heads is surely going to cause some fights.
Your mother was a very gentle, loving woman. If there were cross
words, she handled them quite elegantly, I’m sure.”
Abe chuckled softly. “My mother…she would do the silent
treatment when she was upset with us.” Abe sighed. “Perhaps
that’s why we never heard her and father fighting.” Abe turned
and looked at Julie. “I wish we could hold our tongues.”
“So, how do we fix this?” Julie asked.
“I understand about the bedroom but…give me awhile. Just let me
deal with my mother first. Then we’ll talk about the bedroom.”
Julie nodded. “Honey, I know it’s hard to understand but it’s
the way I was brought up. My mother wants Luke to have that
piece of land a few miles on the other side of town. It meant a
lot to her.”
“You discussed it?” Julie asked.
Abe nodded. “My mother made her position quite clear on the
matter. I want to respect that.”
“But if Ma were here now, she’d…” Julie stopped.
“I know.” Abe’s eyes filled with tears. “Just…” His voice broke.
He took a deep breath as a tear slid from his eye. “Just let me
get through this first, Julie. Please…me and Laura!”
Julie nodded. “Speaking of Laura…” She took her husband’s hand
in hers. “Abe, Laura is hurting so badly. I don’t know exactly
what’s bothering her – she won’t talk to me about it. But I want
to ask you to do something for me…” Abe nodded. “Let me handle
Laura right now. You are way too emotionally involved in this.
You are both upset and angry over your mother’s dying. I know
what she’s feeling and I can help her. But…you must step back
for a time and allow me to handle her.”
“Alright.” Abe nodded. “But I won’t have her being disrespectful
to you. If she is…”
“Hm…” Julie stood up and sat down on her husband’s lap. “Like
you’ve been disrespectful to me?” Julie lowered her eyes. “Of
course, I guess I have been too. I shouldn’t have undermined
you like I did. I’m sorry.” She lifted her head up to look into
“I’ll try to be better.” Julie lifted her eyebrows and waited
for his apology. Abe sighed. “Of course I’m sorry.” He lifted
his hand and laid it on her cheek. “So…is the battle over, Mrs.
“I suppose so.” Abe lifted his head down toward hers. His lips
parted slightly as he pressed them to hers. Their kiss
intensified and Abe tightened his arms around her as they
enjoyed a long kiss. Tension was still present, but they knew it
would take time for that to go away. “Can I sleep in the house
tonight?” Abe asked with lifted eyebrows. “I’m leaving that
decision up to you.”
Julie smiled as she pressed a hand to Abe’s cheek. “It was
mighty…cold in that bed without you last night, Abe.”
“Oh?’ Abe lifted an eyebrow. “In the middle of the summer?”
“Well…there are different kinds of cold.” Julie smiled. “It’s
been cold in that bed for two nights now. I’d rather not make it
They held hands as they walked inside. After they were in bed,
Julie laid her head on his chest. “If you want to talk, Abe,
“I think I just want to sleep, Julie, with you in my arms.” He
pressed a kiss to her forehead, then closed his eyes and went to
But Julie didn’t sleep. She was worried about Abe and Laura. She
knew how hard it was for Abe when his father died, and she was
afraid the same would happen now. Julie heard her husband’s
steady breathing and carefully slipped from his arms. She walked
into the main room to get a drink of water. Her bare foot hit
something. Bending over, she picked it up. It was the letter
Laura had wadded up earlier.
Julie unwadded it and smoothed it out. She’d ask Laura to finish
With so much tension in her family, sleep was hard to come by.
Julie practically jumped out of bed when she saw the first rays
of sunlight coming onto the farm. She dressed in the
semi-darkness and went out to light a fire. But she stopped when
she saw Laura sitting at the table. “Why are you sitting here in
the dark?” Julie asked as she sat down across from her.
“Ain’t allowed to light the lantern,” Laura answered.
“Oh.” Julie smiled. She got a match and lit the lantern. “You
want to talk about it?”
“Not really.” Julie sat silently. “Does Abe love me?”
Julie sucked in her breath at the question. “Oh…honey!” Julie
lifted her face. “He loves you…very much!”
“He don’t want me to live here.” Laura cried as tears streaked
down her face. “He thinks I’m a burden.”
“No, honey! He doesn’t!” Julie tried to assure her.
“He does!” Laura sniffed. “He said so!”
“What are you talking about, honey?” Julie asked. Laura stayed
silent. “Luke’s letter…did you read it?”
“It’s not my place,” Julie answered.
“Read it,” Laura suggested.
Julie looked down at the letter. “No. You tell me, honey.” Laura
sat silently. “I’m your friend, remember?”
“I’m just another mouth to feed.”
“What are you talking about?” Julie asked as understanding
suddenly began to sink in.
“Abe said that…that I’m a mouth to feed! He was yelling at you
because you said I could live with you! He don’t want me here –
not really! But nobody else can take me so that’s why he wants
me!” Laura was crying so hard her words became hard to
understand. She stopped suddenly and looked up.
Julie turned to see Abe standing in the doorway. He had a look
of horror on his face and slowly shook his head. “Laura…” he
whispered as he slowly walked forward. Julie saw tears shining
in his eyes. “Oh Laura…” His footsteps quickened as he hurried
toward her. Reaching her, he dropped to his knees in front of
her. “Oh my Rosebud…” Abraham cried as he took Laura in his arms
and hugged her. “I love you, honey…I love you SO MUCH!”
Abraham pushed her back. His beard was moist from his tears as
he tried to speak to her. He stared her in the eye and spoke in
a broken voice as he laid his hands on her cheeks. “I want you
to live with us, Laura! I want you to live with us very, very
much!” Abe swallowed. “You’ve become more than a sister to me.
Your more like a daughter and I love you!”
Laura just stood quietly and stared at Abe. She was confused at
the words he’d spoken the other night and she had never seen him
so upset…not ever!
“Oh Laura…” Abe swallowed the lump in his throat as he slowly
shook his head back and forth. “Forgive me! Honey, what you
heard the other night was simply two adults having an argument.”
Laura looked at Julie who nodded. “You know how bad of a temper
Laura narrowed her eyes. “Should I answer that question?” Julie
laughed and nodded. “Yes Abe, Julie says you have a VERY bad
“Well…Julie and I were arguing over adult stuff…money and
“You were fighting!” Laura declared sternly. “You were fighting
Abe lowered his head. “Yes. I’m afraid we were.”
“Cause I’m a problem!”
“No!” Abe declared. “No, you are NOT a problem, Laura! I…” Abe
sighed, trying to get her to understand he loved her very much.
“Oh Laura…I’m going to build you your very own room as soon as
we can. I know you need that but…” Abe closed his eyes. “Please,
let’s just get through this thing with Ma first, huh? Julie’s
agreed to wait until after…after….”
Julie turned Laura around to face her. “Laura Rose, I love you
like a daughter and I want you very, very much. Abe and I BOTH
want you to live here. I’m going to need your help a lot and I
want you to have your own room. Your mother is going to be gone
soon, then we’ll talk about that. For now…you have to understand
that…well, that your brother is hurting very, very much.” Julie
smoothed Laura’s hair. “You know, she’s been his mother for 27
years. Abe has a lot more memories and a lot more time of loving
her then you so…just try to think about how much he’s hurting.”
Laura turned back and looked at Abe. “Honest? You REALLY want
“I really, really want you, Laura. I want you to live here until
you get married!”
“I’m never getting married!” Laura declared. “Cause if I get
married, I’ll have kids and make them sad when I die!”
Abe looked towards Julie, who only shook her head. “So, do you
“I forgive you.” Laura practically jumped into her brother’s
arms. Abe hugged her tight.
When they parted, Abe rubbed his tummy. “You know, I’m so hungry
I could eat a bear!”
“How’s pancakes sound?”
“With maple syrup?” Laura asked.
“Well, I think that should be saved for…” Julie cleared her
throat. “Maple syrup it is!” Abe declared. “And after
breakfast…what do you say if we go down and spend some time with
“Just a few minutes?” Laura asked, keeping her head lowered as
she lifted her eyes to look up at her brother.
Abe bent down in front of her. “No, Laura Rose. We can just sit
with her all day if we’ve a mind to. I think that’s
important…don’t you?” Laura nodded. “But…if things aren’t going
well, we won’t stay. And after we leave and you need to cry,
I’ve got two shoulders to cry on right here.”
“Okay, but…” Julie turned from the stove. “Margaret has some
things she has to take care of today and won’t be able to help
Emily, so I told Emily I’d help her. Looks like you have baby
duty this afternoon, Abe.” Julie looked toward Laura. “And I
think he’ll need help.”
“I’ll make sure he don’t do nothing wrong!”
“Doesn’t do anything!” Julie corrected her. “I’d appreciate it
if you would do the diaper changing and the feeding. Last time
Abe changed a diaper…well…” Julie put a hand on her hip. “Let’s
just say it didn’t go well!”
“Are you saying I don’t know how to change a diaper, woman?” Abe
asked as he winked at Laura.
“That’s EXACTLY what I’m saying, Abraham McCain!”
“Now, you see here…” Abe started.
“Abe…” Laura cleared her throat. “Are you and Julie fighting
“Of course not.” Abe stood up and walked into the kitchen. He
slid his arms around Julie’s middle and kissed her neck as she
worked on fixing breakfast. “If I’d known putting a diaper on
wrong was all it took to get me out of diaper duty, I’d have
done it a long time ago,” Abe mumbled against her ear.
“Abe!” Julie pushed him away. “Laura’s got her mind set on maple
syrup with her pancakes, so you just go on down to the cellar
and get some!” Julie demanded. “Scat!”
“Oh, and Laura…” Julie picked up her bowl of batter. “I’d
appreciate it if you would work on the laundry this afternoon.
Then tomorrow you can help me make soap.”
“Oh, more dirty diapers?” Laura suddenly whined. “I thought I’d
help Abe with the…”
“Laura Rose…” Abe shot a warning as he started down the steps to
Laura sighed. “Yes ma’am.”
That morning, Abe waited until his family was all gathered
around the table holding hands before he said the prayer. After
blessing, he smiled as he looked at his family. Then he locked
eyes on Laura. They both knew the next few days would be rough
ones, but he had a fine wife who intended on walking beside him
no matter how bad things got. He couldn’t ask for more than
Before Abe and Laura went to visit their mother, they picked
some flowers. Abe told Laura that their mother would somehow
know they were there. Brother and sister sat together in their
mother’s bedroom. Abe told Laura story after story of his
childhood. Somehow, it seemed to help them say goodbye…for she
was looking paler than ever and knew she could go at any moment.
Laura was a good sport at caring for the boys that afternoon.
Abe kept a close eye on them, but made sure to allow Laura to
feel she was really needed. That evening, after Laura got ready
for bed, she padded into the living room where Julie and Abe
were reading. “I’m all ready for bed,” Laura said.
“Goodnight,” Abe mumbled as he continued reading.
“Aren’t you going to tuck me in and kiss me goodnight?” Laura
Abe lifted his head in surprise. “I thought you said…”
“Abe…” Julie shot him a warning and shook his head. She stood
up. “We’ll do it every night if that’s what you want, honey.”
Abe put an arm around Julie as she looked up at him and smiled.
Though they weren’t completely healed from their fight yet,
today had made a good improvement on their road to recovery.
After Abe and Julie retired for the night, Abe took Julie in his
arms and kissed her. Sleep was late in coming as the couple
cuddled and spent the next long while just kissing, enjoying
once again being in each other’s arms.
The Years Before — Broken
This is a story based on the TV series
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
around The McCain Ranch