The latest installment of my fiction serial on a young woman living in a cult. You can read the Intro and the first installment here and here.
Anna sat in the passenger’s seat of Joanna’s truck as they made their way to the Minister’s house. “And what about the Millers?” Joanna prompted her.
“James and Hanna Miller were founding members of the community. They had three pregnancies, two live births and one still born. The daughter Rachel did of fever as a baby. The son Isaiah wed Naomi. She had four babes, two who survived.”
Anna recited the family tree and the history of their births as the truck bounced down the bumpy dirt road.
“… and their daughter Mary wed Caleb and now they have four children, all born healthy,” she concluded.
“Almost,” Joanna replied. “You forgot about Mary’s sister who died of the cot death, but otherwise you did well child.”
They had reached the front gate. Anna hopped down out of the truck to open it, then close it once Joanna had passed through. She climbed back in. As Joanna drove up to the house, Anna looked around. The minister’s house was a beautiful property, with huge oak trees beside a lake. The house itself was the largest in town, with three bedrooms for the family, an office for the minister, and a front room for meetings. Currently chairs ringed the parlor, waiting for the next men’s Bible study meeting.
Micah Sheppard had been the minister and spiritual leader of their community since before Anna was born. Even Joanna had trouble remembering when his father Lucas had been minister before him. Micah’s wife Lisette ushered them in and led them upstairs to where Micah lay in bed.
“Minister, how are you today?” Joanna asked, while holding his hand between hers.
“I have felt better before,” he admitted with a playful smile. “And how is my Joanna?”
As Joanna chatted with him, she took his temperature and pulse while Anna unpacked the bag of herbs and supplies they had brought with them. Micah traded stories of community members with Joanna as she worked, and they laughed together.
Anna prepared a soothing tincture for the minister, with herbs to combat fever and induce sleep. Joanna supervised his drinking of it, then lingered by his bedside until he drifted to sleep. “I will miss you, Micah” she whispered, before kissing his hand and rising to go.
The ride back was quiet. Anna was prepared for more quizzing on family trees, or more lessons on midwifery. But Joanna merely pursed her lips and said, “He’s dying.”
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