The Longing

The Longing by Beverly Lewis

Book: The Longing by Beverly Lewis Read Free Book Online
Authors: Beverly Lewis
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goodness could be evident in his recurring nightmares. She, of all people, might understand how he felt today.
    Caleb heard the sound of Chris’s car rolling up the drive later that afternoon, right on schedule. It was nearly time for the second milking of the day, and Caleb had yet to make it to the house to welcome his father home. Just as well, he decided. “Hullo again,” he greeted his jovial cousin as he pushed open the barn door.
    Chris grinned. “Time to extract milk from the milk makers.”
    “You’re far too excited about this.” Caleb laughed and led him to the milking parlor.
    “It’s great to be back.” Chris took a deep breath and held it, catching Caleb’s eye. They broke into guffaws.
    “We’ve got nose plugs on hand for English folk.”
    “No,” Caleb admitted, instigating more laughter.
    They shoved open the back barn door, and the cows began to move toward their assigned stalls. Quickly, Caleb started latching them into their individual stanchions.
    “It’s restful here,” Chris said, moving between the rows of cows to wash down udders in preparation for attaching the milkers.
    “Well, the roosters are raucous at times, cows complain, dogs bark—”
    Chris chuckled. “So you’d compare them to blaring horns, squealing brakes, and the endless hum of the city?” He patted the bulging side of a cow.
    “You’ve got me there,” Caleb replied.
    “Coming here is about as peaceful as it gets, other than early morning, when I have my devotions.”
    Caleb nearly groaned. So Chris was one of those Christians. He should have suspected this of his Mennonite cousin; he’d heard this about Preacher Manny’s group, too. The troublemakers . . . He still despised what they’d done to his Nellie— feeding her such nonsense.
    “What about you, Caleb?” asked Chris, disappearing beneath the cow. “Where do you find peace?”
    He felt his chest tense up. Instead of answering, he shrugged and then steered the topic to the mild weather. He brought up the growing season and tobacco seeding just around the corner, anything to avoid Chris’s question. “Still catchin’ up, really. Hadn’t been home for nearly two months.” He glanced at the row of heavy milkers on the other side of the barn, aware that Chris was looking his way.
    “Two months is a long time,” his cousin said.
    “Just workin’ for my grandparents, is all.” He opened his mouth to say more but thought better of it.
    “You weren’t needed here?”
    Caleb rubbed his lower back and stretched. “We don’t see eye to eye, Daed and I.”
    Chris paused. “When I was little, your father used to play volleyball like his life depended on it.”
    Caleb guffawed. “That’s how he does everything.”
    Chris squatted to reach under the cow again. “Sure hope his health improves.”
    “No one seems to know what’ll happen.” Caleb hesitated to mention what he feared. “Doctors say he could be paralyzed for the rest of his life. But with his rehabilitation sessions . . . maybe those’ll help get him back on his feet.”
    Chris nodded and turned his talk to the past, asking Caleb what he thought of having such fancy cousins. Fact was, Caleb had never given it much thought, having little interest in the outside world. Yet
despite their obvious differences, including Chris’s keen interest in “God’s Word,” Caleb was surprised by how comfortable he felt with him. He appreciated his tenacity and hard work, too. Chris had come twice already since his first visit last week, when he had stayed a good two hours, keeping close tabs on the feed for the cows and helping to put on the milkers. Chris was strong from working for his father at their family-run nursery and landscaping business, something he did several hours during the week and all day Saturday. Even so, he’d made it clear he was available to help Caleb with some afternoon weekday milkings, provided he was able to keep up with his homework.
    Chris had

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