Twenty FiveA Chapter by emily
I awoke in the morning to the sound of the window opening. I yawned and blinked. It was early in the morning and it felt that I hadn’t slept for more than a few hours.
“Oh, Addy, I didn’t mean to wake you,” Isaiah’s voice came from the window.
“Isaiah?” I asked sleepily, only vaguely remembering why he was there, “where are you going?”
“I was going to try and get to Eli and Hannah before they have to work, to tell them I’m all right,” he said, crossing the room and kneeling down next to me. “You should go back to sleep. You must be tired,” Isaiah said with a small, knowing smile.
I was tired, but despite his advice, I sat up against the headboard. I hadn’t gotten a good look at him the night before, and I was surprised at how little six months in the army had changed him. The only difference I noticed was the thin, light scar that stretched across his neck, which I immediately realized was not a battle wound but the mark Roy had left on him.
“Are you all right?” I said, eying the bandage wrapped around his still-bare chest.
“Oh,” he said hesitantly. “This? It’s nothing,” he assured me. But the way he held himself told me he was hurting more than he let on.
“What happened?” I asked, suddenly bursting with curiosity.
Isaiah sighed and sat next to me on the bed. “My regiment was ambushed early yesterday morning, just as I was getting back from seeing you,” he began. “I wasn’t prepared, I was stupid, I was reckless, and I got myself clipped in the side with a bullet.” I inhaled sharply and Isaiah took my hand. “It’s all right. They thought they hurt me worse than they did.
“But you see, I had already decided that I was going to desert, that I was going to go back to you. So when the boy who shot me left, thinking he was leaving me to die, I got away. I had bandages in my pack, but not much else. By the time I felt well enough to move on, it was getting dark and no one had come for me. So I went to find you, and found you on the roof.”
Isaiah paused for a long minute, looking at me seriously. “What the hell were you thinking?”
I shook my head. “Hannah went looking for you… and you were gone.”
I purposely avoided saying anything more, not wanting to revisit it. But Isaiah did not understand “And that was a reason to throw yourself off a house?” he asked angrily. “God, Addy, you can’t let your life fall apart just because you don’t know where I am! If you’re going to…”
“Listen!” I cried. “You look at me and try to tell me that you wouldn’t have done the same!
“Isaiah, I thought you were dead!”
He stared at me, the anger in his eyes replaced by guilt. “Oh… Addy, I didn’t know.” I tried to avoid crying as he pulled me close. “I wouldn’t have… I mean of course… of course I would have done…” he stopped, getting a hold of himself. “I’m so sorry.”
“I know,” I said, biting my lip. “I’m sorry, too.”
There was a long silence. Isaiah did not push the subject and I did not want to return to it. “Where will you go today?” I finally asked, curious.
He shrugged. “Probably Eli’s cabin, somewhere I won’t be seen.” He must have seen the worry in my face. “Don’t worry, I’ll be careful.” Isaiah kissed my forehead and most of my anxiety melted away.
“All right,” I said, nodding my head and trying to shake doubt from my mind.
Isaiah leaned down to kiss me. He broke away after a minute, smiling softly. “I’ll be back tonight,” he assured me.
I took his hand in mine. “Be safe,” I pleaded.
He chuckled. “I’ll be all right,” he said, kissing my hand.
I knew he would be careful this time, for everyone’s sake. I let go of his hand and Isaiah walked to the window. He gave me a reassuring smile as he dropped out of sight.
When he had gone, I fell back on the pillows, unable to keep myself from smiling up at the ceiling. I could not believe things had worked out the way they did. I was happier now than I had been in such a long time, quite an accomplishment considering just hours ago I had been a step away from throwing myself off the roof.
Knowing sleep would not return, I wrapped myself in the sheet and went in search of my clothes. I returned to my bedroom, unable to wipe away my euphoric grin. I twirled around my room as I got dressed, choosing a high-collared dress to hide the bruise-like spot on my neck that Isaiah’s lips had left, and skipped out the door
I had not gotten even halfway down the hallway when Hannah accosted me. She looked frantic and drained, like she hadn’t slept at all.
“Is it true?” she cried, eyes wide, taking hold of my shoulders. “I just talked to Eli, he says Isaiah’s really back! How could that…”
“Yes,” I assured her, cutting her off, “he’s back.”
I watched relief wash across her face. “Oh thank God,” Hannah breathed, almost falling into me. “Oh thank you, Adeline, thank you. You’re the reason he came back. You’re the reason he’s alive. You…” she trailed off as she looked at me, reading my expression. Understanding danced across her face as she took in my stifled smile. “… You seem unreasonably happy,” she raised an eyebrow and I bit my lip to keep from grinning.
“Don’t be angry,” I said, backing away a little, finding that I was still afraid of her.
Hannah’s face twitched as she tried to decide how she felt about this. Finally, she said, “you realize you have to tell him this time.” I knew she meant telling him about Jordan.
“I know,” I replied quietly.
“And you’re not scared?”
“No.” I answered before I could think about it. As soon as I said it, though, I knew it was true. I was not afraid to tell Isaiah anymore. I had learned the hard way that his reaction could not possibly be worse than losing him again.
I expected her to lash back, like she always did, with some perfectly delivered argument. But Hannah just looked at me for a long minute, and then she said, “Well then, good luck.” She said it jokingly, but I could tell, on some level, Hannah really meant that.
I wanted to save both of us from the embarrassment that an emotional show might cause, so I spoke up before either of us could say anything sentimental. “He should be in Eli’s cabin, if you want to see him,” I said. Hannah nodded and I started down the hall. I wondered if she would say something as I tried to walk away, but Hannah remained silent.
I knew I had given her a lot to think about. I almost wished I could be with her when she saw Isaiah again. But I knew there was no way I could make it to the cabins today. Mama would be bustling around me all day, worrying about my “condition” just like she had the last time I was supposedly carrying Roy’s child.
She behaved just as I expected, but I really did not care. I daydreamed about Isaiah as she shuffled around, bringing me tea and cushioning my head to her heart’s content.
My mother seemed so happy like this, taking care of me, and I wished she could have a daughter to whom this kind of sentiment actually mattered. When she was kind to me like this, it was almost difficult to remember why we often cared so little for one another.
Ethan brought the unlucky recipient of his courtship home for dinner that afternoon. She was a pretty girl, much younger than him, a surprisingly lucky catch for a pompous, one-armed war veteran.
What was more surprising still was the announcement of their engagement. Ethan was, just as Roy was when we announced our betrothal, exceedingly pleased that he had finally been able to get a girl to marry him. His fiancé, however, reminded me subtly of myself at that age. Her face held fear and a glint of contempt for her betrothed, and I wondered briefly if she was not in a position similar to the one I had been in.
At least if she was in such a situation Mama would be able to fawn over someone else. I chided myself internally for the selfish thought and embraced my soon-to-be sister in law. She smiled graciously and I could not help but think she could be the wonderful daughter I had never been for my family.
I blocked any regret from my mind by reminding myself that they had never been particularly warmhearted to me either. During supper, I returned to my earlier state of vagueness, catching only snippets of the wedding talks (‘Oh, it certainly must be within the month,’ and so on).
The dinner went on far longer than I had hoped. It was nearly ten o’ clock by the time I was able to escape, using my “delicate condition” as a justification. On the way down the hall, I ran into Hannah. She looked guilty, and I realized she had been sneaking back into the house from outside.
“Oh!” she exclaimed as we nearly bumped into each other. “Oh, Adeline it’s just you. I was afraid it was someone else.” She said the last words with such bitterness that I was reminded what Ethan had once done to her, grimacing to think of the poor girl about to marry him.
It dawned on me why she had been out of the house. “Did you see him?” I asked.
Hannah nodded and, though it looked like she had been crying, smiled. “He’s really happy, Adeline. I haven’t seen him this happy in such a long time.” I smiled back but said nothing, not sure how to respond. “I talked to Eli too,” she continued, “we both decided… if you two leave, we’ll be right behind you.”
I felt my jaw drop. That plan had never even occurred to me before, but now that she said it, it sounded so perfect. Unable to think of anything to say, I hugged her. I could feel that the friendship we once had was finally back, and I could not believe I had gone so long without it.
Hannah sniffed and dropped her arms, smiling back at me. “I made sure Jordan could sleep in the house tonight, in case he wants to meet her. I put her in the spare room next to yours, since no one else ever goes on the third floor,” she said, changing the subject gracefully.
I nodded, “Thank you. That should be perfect.”
She gave an assuring nod, and then gestured towards the ceiling. “He should be up there by now,” Hannah said frankly, “I could hardly keep him from sneaking in here in broad daylight, the idiot.” I could tell she was joking and we both laughed.
“All right,” I said, “thank you, for everything.” Hannah gave no response but yet another warm smile and we went our separate ways down the hall.
© 2012 emily
Added on August 14, 2009
Last Updated on March 13, 2012
AboutHello all! My name is Emily, I'm 18, I am definitely not at home in this tiny MN town, and soon I will be the most famous author my generation. I go to Barnes and Noble to see where my book will sit .. more..