Well, here we are again for another episode of my short story series, "The Way Back Home"-Part 5. We're getting closer to the end, but we aren't quite there yet. If you've been enjoying this series, I'd love to hear your feed back. If you are behind, follow this link to catch up. It won't take long. Each episode only takes a few minutes to read. Enjoy!
"The Way Back Home"-Part 5
by Sandy Kay Slawson
The noise level in the cabin of the stagecoach reached head pounding levels. Luther and Lester had awoken with renewed energy, but both expressed the need to "go" and danced with increased discomfort with every second which passed. Violet couldn't tell if Mrs. Howard had even heard the boys complaints. She and Mr. Stuart were deep in conversation. Violet leaned back as much as possible to allow them to speak around her instead of directly into her ears, but her efforts were in vain.
"I heard tell the James Boys have been creating havoc on this line. They've robbed pert near five stagecoaches in the last month alone. They're clever fellas. Nobody ever knows when next they'll strike," said Mr. Stuart pointing his still unlit pipe for emphasis.
"Oh, dear." Mrs. Howard placed a hand over her heart. "Have they....," she glanced at her boys, "...k-i-l-l-e-d...anyone yet?"
"Not that I know of, but there's a few been injured. Most people hand over their valuables and they leave, but every once in a while someone tries to act the hero. They end up shot or knocked out with a shot gun butt against their skull for their trouble. It's not worth it, I tell you."
"Ma!" Luther's wail broke through the worrisome conversation.
"What is it, son?"
"We gotta go!"
Lester joined in the cry, "We can't wait no more, Ma."
"Oh for heaven's sake. How am I supposed to take you-"
"May I borrow your cane, Mr. Stuart," asked Mr. Cowboy.
"Why certainly, young man." Mr. Stuart passed his cane to the Cowboy, who used it to rap the ceiling several times.
Violet heard someone yell from the roof and a moment later the stagecoach began to slow and then stop.
Mr. Cowboy opened the door. No sooner had he disembarked than both Luther and Lester jumped out after him.
"Watch out for snakes, boys." yelled Mrs. Howard after them.
The rest of the passengers also left the confines of the cabin to stretch their legs. Violet stood at the back of the stagecoach alone, and watched the antics of the much relieved twins a couple minutes later. They took full advantage of their few moments of freedom.
"Don't let talk of the James brothers upset you...Ma'am," said Mr. Cowboy as he came to stand near Violet.
Violet's surprised gape swiveled to focus on the heretofore quiet cowboy, who'd come to stand beside her. She gave a tiny shrug and said, "Is it true?"
"Most of it is. There has been some deaths involved."
"Oh, my." Violet scanned countryside, and a frown line formed between her brows.
"Don't worry, I'll keep you safe." Mr. Cowboy's soft words triggered a memory for Violet...
"You know how I feel about you, Violet. I'd die to keep you safe."
Violet closed her eyes to hold her grief inside. She couldn't stand the pain visible in Trevor Knox's deep blue pools.
"If I were a year or two older, but I'm fifteen, not old enough to marry without my Pa's permission. You've barely made seventeen. My mother-"
"Your mother can go to-"
"I'm sorry, Vi. Why does she have to take you off to Boston? It's the most selfish thing I ever heard of."
"I don't know. I've begged my parents to let me stay. You know I don't want to go. I love it here, it's my home. I don't want to leave my Pa...or you." Violet's grief broke through. She found herself held in Trevor's arms, head on his chest, great drops of despair soaking his shirt.
When at last he let her go, she forced herself to memorize his features. No matter how old they grew or how far away she travelled, she would never lose the memories of this place or of this boy.
"I'll come back. Please don't forget me."
"Never." His Adam's Apple bobbed, and she could see he worked to keep his own emotions under control. "I'll write."
"I'll cherish every letter you send." Violet mustered up the courage and pecked him on the cheek. "Goodbye, Trevor. I pray we'll meet again." She spun on her heel, left the privacy of the tree line and raced to where church families gathered for a potluck dinner.
She didn't care who saw her sadness. Compassionate pity followed her through the small crowd of people, she lifted her chin. A stalwart show as she made her way to find her mother, in hopes one more plea would change her mind. Violet found her in a conversation with the traveling preacher away from the crowd. She halted her forward progression and waited.
Violet heard her mother's loud whispers, evidence of her irritation. "Surely the Lord doesn't expect me to live like this. I'm not divorcing him, just separating myself and my girls, so we can live in civilization again. If he comes to his senses, he can always come back home to Boston and be with us."
Violet came back to the present, but her fifteen year old self, demanded she remember the things she'd promised not to forget. The pain of that day left her with scars and wounds which never quite healed. It hurt to remember, but she did.
She swiped at the wet drops which trailed down her cheeks and drew a handkerchief form her pocket. The man who'd sent her back in time, stood before her, silent once more. She considered him without a care for the impoliteness of her stare. Of its own volition, her hand lifted the brim of Mr. Cowboy's hat. The deep blue, watchful regard of Trevor Knox waited right there for her discovery.
To be continued...
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Take care and may the Lord God bless you and your family with faith, hope and love. In Jesus' Name.