After a fire destroys their home when she was a girl, Sarah’s family rebuilds their lives, yet the echoes of the fire’s damage remain. Sarah learned to turn inward, and keep her curious mind to herself, asking God all the questions that her own father used to delight in. But the fire silenced her father, and spread the stillness to the rest of them. Yet Sarah longs to express herself, to find answers to all her questions. A new, young pastor arrives, and captivates her heart. The prospect of a challenging and unexpected life dances before her, but then is held out of her reach. And with the new possibilities come questions she’s never asked herself before. Is she ready for the answers?
Soon Mary left the library to help fix supper, but Pastor stayed. How she wished he would leave so she could lay her head on the desk and cry away some of this pain. He’d go soon, and then she could give in to her tears.
She sat at her desk and wrote reminders for tomorrow. Considering her jumbled state of mind, she doubted her ability to remember anything. The sound of the door closing made her look up. He hadn’t even said good-bye. She scanned the pegs on the wall. He was in such a hurry to go, he forgot his coat.
He was probably glad to go home, away from her gloomy unfriendliness. Thank God, he couldn’t see how petty she was. What a failure she’d turned out to be. A test came along, and all manner of awful things poured out of her. She wanted to go home.
Sobs shook her as she released the tears and held her bowed head in her hands.
God, please forgive me. Please help me. Please.
“Sarah, what is it? What’s the matter?” Pastor’s alarmed voice cut through her sobs.
He stood next to her desk. How could she look at him? What could she say? Why was he there?
She tried to catch her breath. “I…I miss my family. I wouldn’t have cried, but I thought I was alone.” She took a few shaky breaths and kept her gaze down.
“I saw Deacon Tobias outside trying to calm down his horse and went out to help him. He said the leaves spooked her.” He was silent a moment. When he spoke, she could barely hear him. “Sarah, how can I help you?”
“I’m all right. Don’t bother about me. I’ll be fine in a minute.” She stood and walked past him to the stacks of books. How could she let herself get to this point? She’d never be able to look him in the eyes again. Heavy silence filled the room. Sarah stood and stared at the books, mind blank, unable to remember what she should do next. She could feel his presence and squeezed her eyes shut.
She couldn’t take any more. Why wouldn’t he leave?
Her voice shook. “Pastor, please. I can’t talk right now.”
“Let me help—”
“No. Please leave me alone. Please.”
Just go or I’ll lose my mind.
She waited, back stiff, head held high.
“All right.” Pastor’s voice sounded sad and resigned. He must have been so disappointed in her.
She heard him put on his coat. The door closed behind him. Trembling, Sarah walked back to her desk and almost tumbled onto the chair. She crossed her arms over the top of her desk and dropped her head onto them. Her heart yearned for her family and her life as it had been before.
I can’t do this. I don’t have the strength.
Nancy Shew Bolton is a wife of 43 years, mother of five grown sons, and grandmother to a boy and girl. She’s lived in the Finger Lakes region of upstate NY all her life. Her faith, her family and her surroundings inspire her writing. Her books explore the many depths of faith and love.