This is most recent installment of a fiction serial. Click the following links for prior installments: intro, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, and part 6. Content warning for the following scene containing sexual assault.
Anna rubbed her hands together and cupped them around her breath. A sharp winter wind cut across the fields outside. The harvest was over. David had moved into the minister’s house. Rachel and her children were home from their long stay in the hospital, and well again. Rachel’s pregnancy had recovered and she would be bearing soon. Anna looked around her.
She was in the front room of the minister’s house. During Micah’s years it had been a meeting room, ringed with chairs. Now David wanted it turned into a library. Old apple crates filled with books littered the floor. There were new oak bookshelves against the walls, made by a few of the men as a gift for the new minister. David strode into the room with his new air of authority.
“I want you to organize the books by type. Natural, spiritual, and imaginative. After that you can have supper with me and then I’ll drive you back to your cabin,” he said. Then he sat in an armchair with a book and began to read. Anna kneeled on the floor and began taking books out of crates. As she set the books into three stacks, she thought about all the recent changes in the community.
Mary’s babe Tabitha was teething. Rachel’s Esther was crawling. The men had taken in all the harvest and they’d feasted together in celebration. David had been named minister and Peter had asked young Ruth to be his bride. Their wedding was the first David conducted as minister. Some men had wanted Peter as minister. He was young and likely to have sons of his own someday. David had fathered no children and so the matter of succession would come up again when he died. It seemed David had heard about their concerns.
“Did you know,” he suddenly spoke, looking up from his book, “they want me to remarry? Yes. They want me to cleave to some woman half my age and intellect.” His lip curled into a snear. “Yet a girl like you gets to keep her independence.” David drank deeply from his glass and set it down. “I’ll go look at supper,” he said, rising and leaving the room. Anna had nearly finished dividing the books into piles and was about to begin fillng the shelves with them. David came back. Now that Anna looked at him properly, she could tell he had drink in him. He swayed slightly were he stood, and the scent of it wafted off him.
He walked over to where Anna kneeled on the floor, and leaned over her. Anna felt his hot breath on the back of her neck and shivered. One large hand reached out to touch her skin. Anna stiffened and cried out. “Shh… shhh,” David mumbled while his hands ripped at the collar of her dress. “Shhh.” Anna cried and tears rolled down her cheeks as David forced her onto her stomach and lifted her dress. “Shhhhh.”