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Been A Long Time Comin'


This story is written in response to the Sunday Scribblings prompt "drought"... 

Nearing 40, Sarah was long past her courting years.  Still, it pained her to hear the children of their dusty Kansas town referring to her as an "old maid" within earshot.  It wasn't the way she'd wanted things to be, it just was.

Sarah had grown up on her parent's small farm, the oldest of  nine children.  Her Mother had been sickly since the last two were born, and most of the house chores had fallen to Sarah.  It was she who took care of her younger siblings, cooked and cleaned, and did the laundry.  It was back breaking work, and the years of toil showed on her face and hands. 

Farming wasn't easy in the depression years, what crops they did manage to get in the ground often scorched in the sun, or were blown away by the dry wind.  What managed to get a foothold was soon devoured by grasshoppers.  It was a hard life, and money was scarce.  Sarah did what she could to help out, baking pies to sell on Saturdays at the farmer's market in town, and taking in sewing and mending.  There hadn't been time for entertaining thoughts of courting, she knew she was needed at home.

Sarah never got past sixth grade, but those few years in the small rural schoolhouse had instilled in her a love of reading.  Late nights often found her in the rocking chair next to the fireplace, squinting to make out the words on pages in the pale light of a kerosene lamp.  She'd read her Bible cover to cover more times than she could count, and had borrowed books from the teacher, the preacher, the store owner, and anyone else willing to lend her a copy.  She dreamed of far away places and a life very different from her own.

It was late Springtime now, and a small sprinkling of rain had given hope to the local farmers. Sarah's father was getting on in years, and she didn't see how he was going to manage planting without help. His sons had long since grown and moved on to other places to start families of their own.  They wanted no part of the uncertainty of farming.

Sarah left word with Sam, the owner of their small general store, that they were looking for a farm hand, someone who needed a place to stay and would be willing to work in exchange for food and lodging, and maybe a bit of money when and if the crops came in.  He told her he'd be sure to pass the word along.

Just a week later, a man showed up at the door, hat in hand, bib overalls well worn.  He said his name was Abraham, but folks just called him Abe.  Sarah liked the way his blue eyes twinkled when he spoke, and he looked strong enough to do the job.  He told Sarah's father that he was a widower from Wisconsin, his wife had died of pneumonia several years ago.  Abe said he was looking for new start in a place where he wasn't surrounded with memories of the love he once had. 

Sarah's father showed Abe the small shed beside the barn that held a cot, table and chair,  and a small woodstove, and told him to make himself at home.  Before long he was settled in and went to work on repairing fences that had long been neglected. 

Sarah watched him out the kitchen window while she washed up the dishes.  The sun was baking hot, and Abe soon pulled off his shirt, working in just his undershirt and overalls, stopping often to wipe the sweat from his brow with an old handkerchief he kept stuffed in his back pocket.  Sarah noticed how brown he was, lean and muscled, and how quickly he worked on putting the fence right.  

Sarah reached for the bowl of lemons she'd been saving for a lemon pie, and decided to make a pitcher of lemonade instead.  She mixed the lemon juice with cool water pumped from the outdoor well, and sweetened it with a bit of sugar.  Filling a tall glass, she took off her apron, tucked in the strands of hair that had worked lose from her tightly wrapped braid, and headed out across the yard to where Abe was working.

Abe looked up and smiled when he saw her approaching,  that  lemonade looked mighty good, and Sarah was a right pretty woman.  He  had noted that she wasn't wearing a wedding ring, and he wondered if she might be widowed too.  Sarah shyly offered him the cool drink for which he expressed much gratitude.  She invited him to join them for dinner at sundown.  She had a chicken roasting she said.  There'd be potatoes and baked beans as well, and apple pie for desert. 

Abe broke into a wide grin, it had been a mighty long time since he'd tasted freshbaked apple pie.  He thanked Sarah for the invite and said he'd be glad to accept.  As Sarah walked back toward the house, empty glass in hand, her steps were a bit lighter and she didn't feel quite as tired as she had before.  She was thinking that just maybe God heard her prayers after all, and the long drought was fixing to be over.

24 comments:

  1. You had me at calling a 40 year old woman OLD....I wasn't expecting to be delighted, and I had a grin on my face when I finished.

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    1. Good Lotta Joy,that was the intended goal... just a simple little story of rural life the way it once was.

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  2. Yes..40 seems like no age but sometimes the world you live in forces the years upon you..books are a new lease on life in so many ways..I am glad that Sarah found her own story..(I am curious to find out the biblical roots of her name now too..) jae

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    1. At that time a 40 year old woman was considered past her prime, the life span for women was much shorter then too. Ahh yes, books are a door to the world outside. I've learned more about life by reading than I ever did in school! I smiled that you picked up on the Biblical connection of the names, tossed in just for fun. :-)

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  3. Nice story, and it tells of the hard farm life; it's not that hard anymore, but some still want no part of the work.

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    1. Thankfully women don't have to do nearly as much physical labor as they once did with farming, but it still requires a fair share of work and long hours. There is no "day off" when it comes to farming, with animals still to be cared for and such. I come from farm stock, my grandparents were all Dakota farmers, I like my strong survival instinct comes from them.

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    1. Thanks, Shimon! Not a "deep thoughts" tale, just light fare with a hopeful ending. :-)

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  5. Very nicely done! I can't help but wonder what inspired it.
    I want to know what happened next...

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    1. Thank you Annie, I wanted to pick up on another definition of drought, and this one came to mind. :-) I like to think the ending is "happily ever after". It can happen, and sometimes it does... I know! ;-)

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  6. Sounds like a good way to break a drought. What a delightful picture you have painted.

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    1. Thank you Old Egg! Yes, there was more than one drought hopefully coming to an end here, and better times all around! :-) This story is much like being a mouse in the farmhouse corner, and witnessing how life transpires.

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  7. sounds like a happy ending.....my favorite kind!

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    1. Yes, Joanne, I do see a happy ending for Sarah, and for Abet too. I also love stories that leave you with a smile! There is enough dreariness and sadness in life, we an always use a bit of hope. I believe in rainbows!

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  8. What a wonderful story you wrote it so well Josie :]
    lemonade sounds refreshing right about now LOl

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    1. An old-fashioned story of farm life now long ago Janice. Imagine working day in and day out and seeing now prospect for love... and then it comes knocking at the door! I think life is still like that and prayer often gets answered in ways we never anticiated and far better than we dared hope for! Funny, I was thinking after I wrote it that it's been a long time since I've enjoyed a glass of real lemonade! :-)

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  9. You have captured the feeling of life on a small farm so well. There was a sense of isolation but also a love of simple pleasures like lemonade. I really enjoyed the way you set the scene. Very, very nice, Josie!

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    1. Farmllife if familiar territory for me Selma, and I loved reading stories of pioneer farming days when I was growing up. A hard life, most definitely, but also simple, purposeful, and real. I'm glad you enjoyed it! I found myself wanting some lemonade after writing about it! That used to be a simle summer pleasure too!

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    1. Thank you very much Gautami, I'm glad you liked it! :-)

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  11. Oh Josie, that was beautiful. This could so easily be the start of a great romantic novel. Loved it! ;D

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    1. Thank you Lily, it was fun to write something sweet and simple. I wish life was that clear-cut nowdays! Good things do come to those who wait sometimes though, I promise you that's true! ;-)

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    1. Thank You, MMP! Sometimes it's nice to go back to the way life was, things weren't easy but they were certainly less complicated. I think we tend to overcomplicate things now. Bottom line, love triumphs!

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Your comments are always appreciated... they make me smile! :-)