Edna Schrock shivered and pulled her woolen shawl tightly around her shoulders as she stepped out of the house Saturday evening. The air was cold and windy, like it had been most of the winter, yet it was two weeks into spring. They ought to be having warmer weather by now, but winter didn’t seem to want to give in just yet. Last week, the temperatures rose into the upper seventies, and everyone caught spring fever. Neighbors and friends began preparing their gardens, and fields had already been plowed and were ready to be planted. Green shoots from flowers were coming up, and buds on the maples had turned red. Unfortunately, this time of year it wasn’t unusual for the weather to tease people into thinking winter was finally gone. The calendar might say it was April, but Mother Nature said otherwise.
Heading toward the barn, where her grandfather had gone to check on the horses, Elaine hurried her footsteps. The wind howled noisily. She glanced toward the darkening sky and shivered. It almost felt like it could snow.
Elaine entered the barn and headed for the horses’ stalls. “Grandpa,” she called, seeing no sign of him in the first stall where Grandma’s horse, Misty, had bedded down for the night.
She stopped to listen, but there was no response.
Moving on to the stall where her own horse, Daisy, was kept, Elaine still saw no sign of Grandpa. When she reached across the gate to stroke the mare’s head, she heard a low moan coming from the next stall.
Hurrying over, Elaine gasped. Grandpa lay in the straw a few feet from his horse, Dusty. “Grandpa, what happened? Did you slip and fall?” she asked, opening the gate and quickly entering the stall.
Grandpa’s eyelids fluttered, and he clutched his chest. “Lainie,” he murmured, using the nickname he’d given her when she was a girl.
“I’m here, Grandpa,” she said, dropping to her knees beside him.
“Please, tell me what’s wrong.”
“I—I am katzodemich,” he mumbled.
“You’re short of breath?” Elaine’s heart pounded when he gave a feeble nod. Although she tried to remain calm, she couldn’t help noticing Grandpa’s pale skin and the bluish tint to his fingers and lips.
“Lie still, Grandpa,” she murmured. “I’ll run out to the phone shanty and call for help.”
“No, wait,” he said, clasping her hand. “There’s something I need to ask you.”
“What is it?” Elaine leaned closer to him, barely able to make out his words.
“If I don’t make it—will you promise me something?” Grandpa’s voice seemed to be growing weaker.
“Of course, Grandpa. What is it?”
“Look after your grandma for me. She—she’ll need someone to care for her now. C–can you promise me that?”
Tears welled in Elaine’s eyes as she held his cold hand. “I promise that I’ll always be there for Grandma, no matter what.” She gave his fingers a reassuring squeeze. “Help will be here soon, Grandpa. Don’t worry, you’re going to be fine.”
Elaine rose to her feet and dashed out of the barn. It had begun to rain hard, and the bleakness of her mood matched that of the foreboding sky. Tension mounted in her chest as she raced on shaky legs toward the phone shanty. The cold, wet drops made it hard to hurry as she slipped along, trying not to lose her footing. “Dear Lord,” she prayed out loud, “please let my grandpa be okay. Grandma needs him, and so do I.”
To read the whole first chapter from The Decision by Wanda Brunstetter click here.
©2015, Shiloh Run Press. Used with permission.