Thursday, September 29, 2011

Chapter 38

Chapter 38

Abel’s face was … passive. Yeah, that’s the best word for it. Like someone who was trying not to be upset because to be upset might cause problems best avoided. It immediately made me put my guard up.

Now don’t get me wrong, I always respected Brother Clayton. He’d proved himself trustworthy and a real Biblical man, or so said Dad … but that was before everything had fallen apart and I was carrying some baggage I suppose. What he said next didn’t exactly make me any more inclined to relax. “Dacey, I’d like to speak with you.”

I looked at Abel which only caused Brother Clayton to say, “Alone.”

I looked a question at Abel and he nodded so I decided it couldn’t hurt to hear what Brother Clayton had to say. I told Abel, “Daniel is over helping with the garden. Would you mind keeping an eye on him please? And thanks … I heard you carried him in yourself.”

I got the first real smile out of him when he said, “Daniel was very upset. I would not let anything upset him more.”

I smiled and told him, “I know.” Glancing at the man beside me I told Abel, “I won’t be long. We need to figure out our plans and get some things settled.”

He went serious again and said, “Si, we do.”

I looked at Brother Clayton who nodded for us to take a walk down the road a bit. When we’d gone a little ways he said, “Dacey, I’ll admit, I’m not convinced this is the best thing for you. I’m not sure how your father would react to all of this.”

Trying not to let my irritation show I told him, “Dad’s not here … and mostly because no one from the town stood up before good people died. My Dad and Mom were only the first but there shouldn’t have been any.”

He looked sad. “I realize that is how you see it.”

“Brother Clayton, I not only see it but saw it … I was there. I spent too long in that re-education camp and saw it there too. Where were all of the adults then? Why didn’t anyone step up? Not just for me but for the other kids. You knew Dad … there’s no way he would just set back and done nothing. You know they shot Momma first? For just trying to protect Daniel. Dad went kinda crazy. If it hadn’t been for Jeff protecting us, putting himself between us and the guns we coulda easily died too.”

Uncomfortably he asked, “And your point is?”

“That Daniel and I needed someone. First it was Dad but he died. Then it was Jeff and he left and then died. Frankly I needed someone; I knew I couldn’t take care of everything all by myself for much longer … not because I couldn’t do it, but because I could do it all at the same time all the time. I was alone taking care of Daniel. I was alone trying to feed us and I’m sure you know what that’s like. I was just plain alone. I prayed about it Brother Clayton, really prayed about it. And I really believe my prayers were answered. God might have sent someone from town but no one answered that call if it was made. So He sent Abel. And right from the get go Abel has been everything we needed him to be and then some.”

“Dacey, do you know …”

I interrupted him which might not have shown good matters but I was gonna cut to the quick of it. “That he is supposed to be some kinda boogie man, a former Peacekeeper? Yeah. I knew it from the beginning … but I also knew the hurt man that refused to take charity, that refused to take advantage, that has a cousin … or had … just like Daniel. Her name is Rosa and she’s autistic too. Have you seen him with Daniel? I can’t believe some of the things he’s been able to help him to learn; stuff that will help him survive in case something happens to us. And yes, I know that Abel’s done some things that aren’t very nice, but so have I. Things I’m not inclined to talk about … but Abel understands. I think Abel is more broke up about the stuff he’s done in his past than I am about the things I’ve done. I don’t know what that is, I just know that it is.”

With a sigh he said, “I see I can’t persuade you to be worried about this man’s past but you can’t have known him for very long. And you’re … what … barely sixteen?”

“I’ve known him for a year, or close enough that it doesn’t make much difference. We ran into each other a couple of times before we got to know each other well. And yes sir, I’m sixteen but I’m an old sixteen. Probably most of us from my group – the ones that have lived this long – are old in spirit if not in body.”

“But why child? Why are you agreeing to marry Montoya?”

I could tell he didn’t understand though in all fairness he seemed to be leaving room for me to persuade him. “Brother Clayton, I’m not just agreeing to it … I want it. We already do things together that most married people do … I mean except sleeping together. And in the interest of complete honesty, it’s been Abel that’s been a lot more stuck on the idea of putting that part of it off than me. We don’t share a bed or bedroom or even anything close to it.” I could see him wince. I guess he hadn’t expected me to be quite so bold about it all. “But everything else we do share. Taking care of Daniel, the chores, protecting each other … you name it.”

“If it is only loneliness or help with Daniel you are concerned with you are more than welcome to move to Amish Town.”

Oh I’d been afraid that was coming. “No thank you. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the offer but we’ve already got our set up and Daniel is used to it. He’s been all right here – barring the situation yesterday – but he’s asking to go home and that’s exactly where I aim to take him.”

We finally took a seat up on the porch of another empty building. “I’ll admit, Montoya … well he isn’t exactly as I pictured him. He’s rather … earnest.”

“Yeah, he is that for sure. Look Brother Clayton, if Abel thinks that the grown men around here have good reasons to object to him being with me he’s gonna bow up and refuse to come home with us. You might think he’s just playing that up but I can promise you he isn’t. We’ve worked things out between us up to this point but you could come in and just mess it all up. I don’t know how I’m gonna work him around if he doesn’t think he can get some kind of wedding. He can be so stubborn about things that don’t make a hill of beans to me.”

He sat back, “Dacey, I’m surprised at you! Marriage is the foundation of much that we hold dear in this life. One of the building blocks that …”

“I said wedding not marriage. I know being married to someone you want to give yourself to is important but like I said, I’m being honest here, a wedding isn’t all that big of a deal to me. I’d be just as happy if we said our words between us and God with only Daniel as a witness. Just Abel seems all set to have someone say words over us. I’d just as soon not and save the trouble but … well, I care about his sensibilities enough that if a wedding is what he wants then I guess that’s what we’ll do. He seems to believe it’s important that other people hear him say his promise to me; it’s that honor thing he has. He can be such a guy about things; just as bad as Dad was in that respect.”

Brother Clayton sat looking at me and then thinking a bit before saying, “I find myself in agreement with Montoya on this subject. A wedding could very well be important for a number of reasons Dacey. Perhaps some that might not mean anything to you right now but they could down the road. A marriage is a contract between a bride, and groom, and God. It is always important to have witnesses for a contract because often that contract is the foundation for how the relationship – whether business or personal – will operate and function. It is also often used for purposes of inheritance, to determine the proper heirs and who receives part of a estate and how large a part.”

I said, “You’re talking about trust.”

“And respect,” he said adding another trait. “A contract sets a precedent, one that both spouses should consider a good one. And with God as the third party involved in the contract, there are certain expectations there as well.”

I told him, “I do understand what you’re saying sir, but I don’t necessarily agree that the contract has to be a piece of paper that gets signed off on by someone.”

He kinda bobbed his head and said, “I respect your opinion even if I don’t share it; it’s one held by a great many people that do not like the government being involved in what should be a personal issue. However, we are back to the fact that with things in such upheaval that having a piece of paper as a form of continuity may very well be important down the road for multiple reasons.”

Thinking about what he’d said I admitted, “OK, I can see that part of it, but that’s not why Abel wants a wedding.”

He sighed and gave a small smile. “Hmmm, I did rather get that impression as well. As I said, Montoya is rather more earnest and … and ,,,:

“Stubbornly determined?” I finished for him.

He tried to cover his laugh with a cough. “Ah … um … yes. Yes that does rather describe him doesn’t it?” Then he sighed. “Are you sure Dacey? Marriage is a very serious matter with or without a wedding. You’re so young … and you’ve essentially been alone for almost three years.”

“Less than that because I’ve had Daniel and … and Abel too for the last year. And as for being young … like Dad always said, time will take care of that.” Looking at him I said, “Brother Clayton, I want to go home. It’s where Daniel needs to go too. And our place is a home, in part, because Abel is there and shares it with us. If you get in the way, I’m worried that I won’t be able to talk him around to coming back with us. Please don’t put some kind of bee in his bonnet like you object. I don’t expect people to understand though it would be nice if they’d give us the benefit of the doubt but Abel and I … well … we fit. We know what each other are thinking a lot of the time. I trust Abel to do the right thing whatever comes up. And I know for a fact he’d do whatever it took to protect Daniel – and me – from anything and everything. Do I know what I’m getting myself into? I think so. Momma explained a lot of things to me when I started … er … maturing. She and Dad both did; they didn’t want me to make some of the mistakes other girls my age were making. And one of the biggest things that tells me Abel is the one is that he’s never been jealous of Daniel, of the place Daniel has in my life and probably to some extent will always have to have in my life. He’s not gonna run off, I’m actually more worried about him running himself into the ground this winter … it’s gonna be a bad one I think.”

If possible his face got more serious. “Some of the elders are saying the same thing. Is it fear that’s driving you to this marriage?”

Thinking he was being silly I told him, “No, not hardly. But I do need him. He fits a spot that was empty before he came … in my life and in Daniel’s.” Feeling a little silly I added, “I guess I’m just not romantic but I think it is much cooler for a guy to be able to bring down a boar and clean it and all that stuff than one that talks a pretty line or has a pretty lineage … that stuff is for breeding dogs and horses, not building a marriage on.”

I got another cough-covered laugh. “Yes … well … uh hmm. I can see that you are set on this so … while I might have reservations I … I withdraw my objections.”

I wasn’t ready to do the happy dance yet. “What about Grandfather Isaac. From what I gather he’s got some say around here.”

Brother Clayton nodded. “Yes he does, but since we are ‘Englishman’ – not Amish or Mennonite – he has left the ultimate decision up to me; however, he seemed rather more inclined from the very beginning to allow it.”

I had to bite my tongue over the idea that anyone was going to allow me or not allow me to do anything. Instead I said, “Guess that just leaves Abel to deal with. And I guess figuring out how and when we are going to get this all done. I’ll be truthful, I’m not waiting a week or anything like that.”

Rather dryly he said, “So I have sensed. Tomorrow is a rest day for the whole community and there are two other couples that will be married in the morning. If you don’t object to sharing, I believe they would have no objects to adding another couple to the mix.”

“Let me talk to Abel about it but I certainly don’t mind. Doesn’t look like we are going to get far today anyway.”

*****

Nope, talking Abel around wasn’t easy. It was what Dad would have called an exercise in patience. But good sense finally won out.

“Querida, are you sure?”

“Sure I’m sure, that’s what I’ve been saying haven’t I? Is it because you don’t want to share the day or something?”

He shook his head, “No, it is not that. I simply do not want you looking back and regretting … “ He chewed his lip a moment. “I do not wish for you to have sorry that we did things like this.”

I rolled my eyes and sighed. “I swear Abel, if anyone is gonna be sorry it might be you. I’m not sure I have a romantic bone in my body; and I’m not much of a girly girl. I don’t care about all of that other stuff – the wedding and all that. All I care about is you. I want you to feel like we are good and married so that I don’t have to worry about you feeling like you have to leave or something like that.”

“I will not leave or something like that.” After a moment where we relaxed and enjoyed the fact that the decision had been made he asked, “Do you wish me to speak with Daniel?”

I’d been thinking about that very thing but told him, “Let me talk to him first. As his sister I owe him that. I want him to really believe that all this means is that you’ll be staying with us forever now.”

“Si … forever.”

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