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Wanted(9)

By´╝ÜShelley Shepard Gray



“Two months can be a long time if it’s the wrong situation.”

“I’ve waited a long time to meet the right man,” Winnie said.

Katie’s mother clucked. “You will find the right man sooner or later.”

Winnie nibbled on a bottom lip. “None of the boys I talked to at singings interested me. No one since, either. Before long, I’m going to be en altmaedel.”

Katie chuckled in spite of the serious conversation. “You are not an old maid, Winnie. You are hardly more than two years older than me.”

“You can’t deny it has been a long time since we used to look forward to our Sunday singings. We are not so young anymore.”

Katie did remember how much fun she and Winnie used to have together. They’d go to the singings on Sunday evenings, eager to meet other teenagers. Eager to find a special boy.

Unfortunately, neither ever had found anyone special. As the years passed and they attended other friends’ weddings, they’d begun to drift apart.

“I feel like an old maid, and that is the truth,” Winnie proclaimed. Turning to Katie’s mother again, she said, “Are you worried about the girls? Mary can be a handful, but she’s a sweet girl at heart.”

“It’s not the children that concern me, Winnie.”

“Then what?” Winnie turned to Anna. “What do you think? This is my time to actually meet Malcolm. I figured you, if no one else, would understand the obstacles I am facing. It is hard to learn about someone from mere letters.”

Anna blushed but said nothing. Only the potato peels flying onto the counter at a frantic pace gave notice to her discomfort.

Words warred inside of Katie. She yearned to push her mother to give in. To let her live with the Lundys. But, she didn’t like how Winnie was pressing them, either. Guilt and obligation didn’t make a fitting pair.

Once all the chicken was drying on a copy of the Budget, her mother sighed. “Tell me about this young man you are writing to.”

“He’s a Troyer. Malcolm’s great-grandmother was Ruth Troyer. Do you know of the family?”

Grudgingly, her mother nodded. “I do. They’re good stock.”

“I knew it.” Winnie’s smile, with those perfect dimples, lit up the room. “I could tell from the way he described his family that they were people I would like to know and would get along with.”

“Now, I didn’t say that, Winnie.”

Winnie waved a hand dismissively. “You’ve said enough. Besides, I know Malcolm quite well now. We’ve been corresponding for some time.”

“Letters don’t always tell what matters about a person,” Anna interrupted. “It’s hard to get a real sense of what a person is like from just a few words, or even a few meetings.”

“Malcolm’s letters are more than brief messages,” Winnie replied. “They’re truly thoughtful notes revealing his heart and soul.”

Katie bit her lip as she noticed Anna and her mother exchange amused glances.

Seemingly encouraged, Winnie continued. “Our notes to each other are personal and heartfelt. Like there’s something between us that’s special.” She glanced toward Anna, and then finally to Katie. “You both know what that’s like, don’tcha?”

“I do,” Anna answered as a faint blush stained her cheeks. “Henry and I have written a few notes to each other.”

This was news to Katie. “When did my brother write to you?”

“When we were apart.” Turning to Winnie, Anna said, “But, Winnie, I must say that nothing takes the place of conversations face-to-face. Whenever Henry is pleased, he gets this crease in between his brows. Now I know when he’s tired because he will favor his right leg a bit.”

“It never did heal up right after that horse kicked him,” Katie’s mother commented.

Anna’s expression became tender. “Now that Henry and I have gotten to know each other better, I know he and I will make each other happy when we are married. Because we’ve taken the time to get to know each other better. I…I’ve never felt this way before.”

Winnie flicked a snowy white cloth in the air to snap it open. “See, Mrs. Brenneman? I need to be near Malcolm. I need the time with him, face-to-face.”

“I hear what you are saying.”

Winnie turned to Katie. “What about you? Have you ever been in love?”

Katie jabbed another pie crust with a fork. “You know I’m not courtin’ anyone.” Her words exposed everything she’d always wanted to hide deep inside of her. Frustration, wistfulness. Regret.

But Winnie, too intent on her own problems, didn’t take notice. “Not even during the singings? Or afterward? I seem to remember you spent quite a bit of time out and about during your rum—”

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