Night after night I read a new entry from the journal. Every spare minute I have the precious, leather-bound book is in my hands. I often go to the store for Mama so that I can tell Mrs. Johnson where I am in the book. She excitedly fills me in with small details that she remembers from her past.
Every evening at supper I tell my family what the last story was about. Runaway cows, potato planting, trips to town, turkey hunting, and picnics under the old maple tree. I take joy in reciting from memory the names of all of Mrs. Johnson’s siblings. I often feel as if I am a part of that family, and Papa always teases me by saying that I know more about Mrs. Johnson’s family than I do about my own. But, I know that isn’t true, for he says just the very next day how I always seem to know what one of the little ones need even when they don’t ask.
Mama asked me to go to the store and purchase some parsley. I dare say she is just trying to get me out of the house, for the three youngest have colds and I have been inside all week.
I walk slowly today. I am taking in the smells and the sights. The sun is shining brightly and the bitter winds are being chased away. Only small piles of snow remain and the trees have tiny buds on them. Spring is just about sprung.
I am greeted with a surprise as I enter the shop. Mrs. Wilson is behind the counter helping a customer. I glance around for any sign of Mrs. Johnson. I strain my ears to try to hear the soft humming of a hymn. Nothing.
“Good afternoon, Katherine!” She greets me with a warm smile.
“Good afternoon, Mrs. Wilson. How is Jonathan?” Jonathon is Mrs. Wilson’s 12-year-old nephew. He fell sick with the flu just a week days ago.
“Oh not well, I’m afraid. He’s still quite ill. His mother is thinking of taking him to the doctor’s place in the city.”
“Newborrough is so far, though!”
“I know, but he is not getting better as he should. It isn’t terribly far, anyways.”
“I see. I’ll be praying for their family.”
“Thank you, dear.” She smiles sweetly and sighs. “Well! I suppose you’re wondering where Mrs. Johnson is. I hear you’ve been reading her ‘book’.”
“Oh yes! And I’ve been enjoying it greatly. I tell my family about it at supper every evening.”
“That’s wonderful. It’s meant to be shared with family. Mrs. Johnson was not feeling very well this morning, so I am watching over the store for her.”
“Oh dear, will she be alright?”
“Oh yes, yes, yes! She was only tired and had a headache.”
“I’m glad it’s nothing much. I’m afraid that if she were to get seriously ill it may stay with her for years.”
“Darling, she may be elderly but she’s got the spirit of a young one in the spring time.”
“Katherine!” Mama’s voice calls me in from the barn. It is now Friday- three days after my conversation with Mrs. Wilson.
I nearly drop my bucket of fresh milk as I hear her call. “Yes, Mama?”
“Come inside, child!”
“Yes, ma’am!” I rise from my seat on the wooden stool and start walking towards the house. I hear Mama and Papa talking in hushed voices as I come nearer to the door. I step inside and Mama looks at me as if concerned.
“Katherine, we just received word that Jonathon is terribly ill. His parents drove him to the doctor in Newborrough and they said it was more serious than they thought.”
I can feel the color drain from my face. “Is he… will… will he… live?” I can picture the young boy running through the tall grass. He often ran through the big field with his dog. One time, I recall, he was chased by an angry pig.
“They think he’ll be fine. He’s getting very good care. However, he must stay at the hospital. Mr. Howard will stay at home to watch over their farm so that Mrs. Howard can be with Jonathon.”
“How sad! They need our prayers, indeed.”
“Yes, they do. Mrs. Johnson does too, as she may have the same thing.”
“What?” My eyes dart back and forth between Mama’s and Papa’s eyes.
“You did not know that she was ill?”
“I did not! Please, tell me!”
“Really, dear, it isn’t very serious. It isn’t yet, anyways. She is sick and in bed. Mrs. Wilson went to see her and said that she seemed to have the same symptoms as Jonathon. But nothing is for sure yet.”
Featured image taken from Stock Snap.