Beside Still Waters
them, for the first time realizing how cold she was. How tired. "I think I'll return to the fire."
    "Can I sit by you?" Aaron's voice held a hint of apology.
    She shrugged. "If you'd like. If you think your father would approve." She said the last words with a tone sharper than she meant and from the corner of her eye recognized a pained look on Aaron's face. Marianna opened her mouth to apologize, but before she could he turned and headed toward the fire.
    She cleared her throat again, lowered her hand, and pressed her fingers to her eyes, telling herself not to cry. A new burden settled on her chest, adding to the bricks of worry that were already there. She was angry at her parents for making her leave, and now the anger had seeped out, contaminating her relationship with the one person she wanted to stay most for.
    If she could just talk to Levi. On many nights when they couldn't sleep, she and her older brother would slip out of the house, finding themselves in front of the raspberry bush, eating the ripe fruit under the light of the moon as they talked about their friends, their future, their parents. It was during those nights her brother had told her about a time when their home had been filled with laughter and fun. Even though he was just three at the time of their sisters' deaths, he could remember Marilyn and Joanna. He could also remember the night of their deaths, the same night Marianna was born.
    She'd always wondered if her birth had ever eased the pain of her sisters' deaths. One daughter to replace two. She could never replace them, of course. But that didn't mean she didn't long for a home filled with laughter and joy like Levi spoke about with fondness. Of course, that was the old Levi. He'd changed. He no longer cared for home and family as he used to.
    One by one those she'd been closest to were being led away. Why? What was so wrong with staying? With belonging?
    She rubbed her arms, and with slow steps headed back toward the fire, realizing that maybe it was better to go to Montana after all. Maybe this would be the very thing to bring back the joy in her family that Levi had told her about. It was worth a try. Her parents deserved to feel happy, settled. And when she returned to Indiana, she'd do so knowing she'd honored her family. Then she could start again with Aaron and, hopefully, he would have forgotten her harsh words.

    Dear June-Sevenies,
    Next time you receive a letter from me, it will be from the new address I've enclosed. My family is moving to Montana, and I have no choice but to go. For as long as we've been doing this chain letter, I figured that change was to come sometime. Clara was the first to get engaged. Wynne was the first to travel to a foreign country—even if it was Canada. I suppose I'm the first to move far way. I'll try to write from the train, although it may not be legible. It's a mighty long ride. I'm not sure what to expect in Montana. Dat says there is a dozen families, and I picture twelve little shacks clinging to the side of a mountain, sort of like in the book Heidi. I suppose I'll soon find out.
    You may wonder what's going to happen with Aaron. I wonder that too. Last night I dreamt I was in Montana and Dat told me I could return to Indiana. I left the house on the way to the train station, and I somehow got lost in the woods. I was wandering around in the dark trees. It was a very scary dream! Then, in the distance I could see water—like a pond—down the hill, and someone calling to me. I woke up thinking of Aaron, wondering if he'd come for me in Montana and then chiding myself for that notion.
    Rachel, that's exciting about your cousins visiting from Pennsylvania, although I'm not sure how your house could hold so many people. And, Beverly, to answer your question I'm still working on my quilt. I have the panels sewn together, but I have a lot of hand stitching work to do. I'm taking the quilt with me. Hand-stitching takes forever when I'm up and down with

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