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Joy's Legacy Chapters 17-18

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CHAPTER 17

 

 

Joy looked at the man that had just come in the door as he awkwardly

found a place to sit. He looked embarrassed to be late and to be the

center of attention because of it. Joy watched him closely as he sat

near Mr. Bodaway, noticing how good-looking he was. What was her

problem? She turned from him immediately, feeling guilty for even

looking at someone other than her husband in that way.

 

Mr. Bodaway nodded his head at Andrew and asked him to continue.

Andrew spoke about the problems and terrorism occurring everywhere.

He told of Jack’s close encounter with the men in the town, as well

as others that had experienced similar situations. He encouraged

everyone to stay on the Reservation, and to watch each other’s back.

When he was done, he sat down quickly, glad that the spotlight was

no longer on him.

 

Mr. Bodaway thanked Andrew as he patted him on the back. “Now,” he

said, looking around at everyone in the room, “let’s talk business.”

He went on to explain why Rebecca’s family was there, and what was

expected of them. They would all have to learn how to work the farm

they were in, and all that was required of them was to live by the

law of the Reservation. They would be responsible for their own

supplies, and could trade freely with their neighbors and the

Reservation. They could fish as much as they wanted, but were not

allowed to bring any outsiders. They could also hunt as much as they

wanted on their own land, but would have to make arrangements with

their neighbors if they wanted to hunt there.

 

Ed raised his hand and cleared his throat, trying to get Mr.

Bodaway’s attention. “Yes, Ed?” he asked once he saw him.

 

“Well, none of us know how to hunt. Or fire any kind of gun, for

that matter.” Ed replied, a little embarrassed.

 

Mr. Bodaway nodded his head thoughtfully. “Good point, Ed. Well,

there are several people at the Reservation, and even Jack and your

family that are good with guns. I suggest you making arrangements

for learning with them, soon. We all have to understand something

here. We are going to come into a time in which we will all come to

depend heavily on each other. It is in my opinion that we trade as

much as we can with each other, and then look to the outside for

help. In fact, we are working out a way in which we will be able to

trade with outsiders, and not involve the people that live here at

all. Something like the old General Stores, where the store traded

with everyone, and that way everything was available to everyone.

 

“Now. I would recommend all of you going out and getting supplies,

but I think it’s too late for that. What you have is what you have,

and you will have to learn to either make it yourself or do without.

You think things are bad now? Just wait a day or two. They will get

worse. And I’m not just talking to talk here. Trust me.”

 

The quietness in the room could be heard for miles. Everyone looked

very somber as Mr. Bodaway continued his speech.

 

“Now everyone here knows that they are welcome to stay here as long

as they follow the laws of the Reservation. We will not make

exceptions. We are now including Seth and Rebecca’s place, Jack’s

place and the Larson’s old farm as part of the Reservation, with

their permission. At some point we may be in war, and we will have

to call on people to participate to defend their loved ones and

their home. If they refuse to do so, or to abide by any other law

made by the Reservation, then they will be asked to leave and not

come back. Is that clear?” Mr. Bodaway’s eyes narrowed as he looked

around the room. Everyone nodded.

 

“While you are here, your land and your possessions will not be

taken from you, as long as you live your life in peace with others.

Now, on to more logistical topics. Ed, you will be in charge of the

spiritual welfare of the Reservation. We will look to you for

guidance in that area, but you are not to force people into

believing what you believe. Everyone is free to believe as they see

fit, and to worship whomever they want as long as it is in peace

with the rest of us. Ed will have authority to marry people, and

whoever gets married under him will be considered married

undisputedly. And Ed, you will not be able to charge for your work.

You have already been paid with the cabins. But if people choose to

pay you on their own, they are free to do so.”

 

Ed nodded his head in understanding. He would have to depend on his

family for food, as the work he would do would provide them with

shelter.

 

Mr. Bodaway continued talking, making sure everyone knew the gravity

of the situation. He asked for people to be fair as they traded and

assured everyone that even though the worst was yet to come, they

would be able to not only face it together but thrive in their new

environment.

 

Joy took everything in, wondering what kind of laws the Reservation

had. She didn’t know what else they could do but stay where they

were, so she resigned herself and hoped for the best. It didn’t seem

like anyone else had a problem with any of this, so she told herself

to just go along with the flow.

 

Joy glanced around at the people there and noticed Jack glancing at

her. She turned away quickly, hating the fact that her face

automatically turned bright red. She busied herself looking away

from him, hoping that he hadn’t noticed and didn’t think she was

looking at him. Who was he, anyway? She wondered how people had been

chosen to attend the meeting. Well, she was glad to be here, and

didn’t want to miss what was being said. Joy turned back to Mr.

Bodaway and tried to catch what else he was saying.

 

“So Jack will live in one of the cabins until his home is finished.

That way, you can learn from him, and he can have a place of his own

to stay at. I’m glad that this has worked out. I think it is the

best for all concerned.” Mr. Bodaway ended. What had she missed? Joy

looked around to see all of her family nodding, including Bethany,

who was doing it even more emphatically than the others. Well, at

least she agrees, Joy thought.

 

“Now, Roger, that’s your name, right?” Mr. Bodaway looked at Roger

and waited for him to nod. “Would you be willing to be our doctor?

Each individual person or family would have to pay you for what you

did, and I would expect both sides to be fair. You and uh, Marie?

Could work together and spilt what you get. Jack,” he continued

looking at him, “We may have to ask you to help in that area too. If

Roger or Marie can’t be there for some reason, we may call on you,

or on some of the other people on the Reservation that know about

first aid. We would also like you to teach, if you can, but we’ll

get to that later. Does all this seem reasonable?”

 

Everyone involved nodded, and Roger was the only one that had a

question. “Where would we help people? I mean is there a clinic or

would we go to their homes, or them to ours?”

 

Mr. Bodaway nodded. “Good question, Roger. To start, you’d have to

go to people’s homes. Or they could come and see you. After that, we

will have to see what we can do about a clinic. Anyone else have any

other questions?”

 

When he had paused long enough and no one had responded, he gave the

ok for everyone to get something to eat outside. Everyone stood up

and started to make their way outside, those that knew their way

around leading the way. There was a lot of chatter, but it seemed to

be a somber one.

 

Once outside, Joy got in line with the rest of the people to get

food. It looked like everyone had brought something to eat except

her and her family. She wished she would have known, but knew that

they had probably planned it this way so that they could just relax

and get to know everyone.

 

Joy wished she could relax. Who was to say that all these people

were trustworthy? Maybe they wouldn’t blow up, but maybe they would.

How could she know for sure? She made her way in the line, eyeing

everyone cautiously. Would she ever be able to trust again?

 

Suddenly she realized someone was talking to her. It was Roger.

 

“Joy, we are going to sit over here. Would you like to join us?” He

asked in his thick, African accent, his eyes full of compassion.

 

Joy kicked herself mentally for allowing her emotions to show.

“Sure,” she smiled, trying to look as normal as possible. She

followed Roger and sat down next to Marie, moving a plate full of

food aside. She could see that her dad was already engrossed in a

conversation with Mr. Bodaway, and that the rest of her family was

also trying to get to know others.

 

She tried to eat the food that she had gotten, but really had no

appetite. She looked around at the landscape, enjoying the beautiful

view. She closed her eyes and took in a deep breath, enjoying the

warmth of the sun, and the breeze on her face.

 

 

 

Jack hated being late, but this time he had not been able to avoid

it. Luke had not readily stayed with the kids at the park, until

some of them welcomed him to play. He felt that at this time it was

more important for him to make sure that Luke was ok than to be on

time for a meeting. Later on he apologized and explained to Mr.

Bodaway why he was late.

 

After he had finally settled into his seat, he had a chance to look

around and look at who had come. Everyone that had been there for

the meeting on Friday was there except for the Larsons. Jack had

wondered how they were doing and if they had made it to Florida ok.

In addition to those there, Rebecca’s family had also been invited

to the meeting. It had made the room that they met in a little

crowded, but Jack was glad they were there.

 

As he looked at the new members of the Reservation, Jack caught

Joy’s eye and saw her turn away abruptly. He hoped she didn’t think

that he was staring at her, but the truth was, he did wonder how she

was doing. He had assumed that it was her, but wasn’t sure. The

three sisters look remarkably alike, and then there was the other

girl there too. What was her name? Jack couldn’t seem to remember.

He figured he would probably find out soon enough.

 

After the meeting they all went out side for the supper that had

been prepared by some of the ladies at the Reservation. Jack loaded

up his plate and looked around for a place to sit as he balanced the

plate in his hands. He saw the couple from Africa and sat down next

to them, hoping to get to know them a little better.

 

“Hi,” he said after he put his plate down on the round picnic table

and extended his hand. “I’m Jack.”

 

“Hello, I am Roger, and this is my fiancée, Marie. Nice to meet

you!” Roger returned, shaking his hand happily.

 

They chatted a little about where they were from and what work they

did in Africa. Jack was glad to know that he was no longer one of

the only Christians around. The conversation soon turned to what was

happening all around them and how it was going to be.

 

At a break in the conversation Jack excused himself to get something

to drink. After offering to get them one, he made his way back to

where the beverages where. He noticed that they had been very

careful to leave alcoholic drinks out. It didn’t bother him one way

or the other, but he knew some of the men didn’t know when to stop,

and there had been problems because of it in the past.

 

“Hi, I’m Bethany.”

 

Jack looked around him to see if the lady was talking to him. She

was.

 

“Oh, uh, hi.” Jack looked around for somewhere to put the drinks he

was holding down, but couldn’t find a spot to put them. “I’m sorry,”

he continued apologetically, “I’m Jack.”

 

Bethany smiled. “Yes, I know. You came in late, remember?”

 

Jack swallowed, and glanced away, embarrassed. “Yeah, I, uh, what

did you say your name was again?”

 

“Bethany. Bethany Wilson. Are you the neighbor that provides the

fresh milk and eggs?”

 

“Um, yes, I guess I am. Although recently I haven’t been the one

doing it, I, uh, have been busy with my kids and-“ Jack hated

feeling so out of control. What was his problem? Something about

this woman just rubbed him the wrong way.

 

“I know. And I’m sorry about your loss,” Bethany said, placing her

hand on his forearm.

 

Jack retreated from her touch shocked. He felt bad that he had

reacted that way, but he was in no way ready for another woman to

touch him. His wife hadn’t been gone for even a week, and he knew he

wasn’t done grieving her yet.

 

“Uh, yeah. Thank you. Excuse me, I, uh, I need to get these back to

Roger and Marie. Nice to meet you.” Jack said as he started walking

away.

 

“Well, we’ll talk another time. Nice to meet you, too!” Bethany

said, grabbing a drink of her own.

 

Jack made his way back to where he had been sitting, only to find

that Joy took his place.

 

Joy looked up as Jack approached the area where she was sitting. Oh,

no, she thought, realizing she had taken his seat.

 

Jack put the drinks down and motioned for Joy to stay seated. She

smiled at him gratefully, and helped him rearrange the plates so

that he could sit with them comfortably.

 

Jack got another chair and quietly thanked Joy for rearranging the

plates. “I’m Jack, by the way,” he said, extending his hand to hers.

 

“I’m Joy,” she said, taking his hand.

 

Jack lingered holding her hand for a second, wanting to say

something more, but not knowing what. “I’m very sorry for your

loss,” he finally stammered, letting go of her hand.

 

Joy looked away quickly, her blue-green eyes troubled. “Thank you,”

she replied quietly. “Now, where is it that you live?” She asked,

wanting to change the subject.

 

“I live across the lake from where you are. I have a six-year-old

son, Luke, and two newborn babies, Victor and Grace. My wife also

just, uh, just recently past away.” Jack replied, hoping that he

didn’t have to explain things any further.

 

“Oh,” Joy said, a look of realization crossing her face. “I’m sorry

for your loss, too,” she said quietly, and then tried to change the

subject again. “I have a little girl, Victoria. She’s four.”

 

Jack smiled. “So she belongs to you? I met her at the park when I

dropped Luke off before the meeting. Friendly little gal. She wanted

to make sure Luke would play with her at the swings. I’m not sure

Luke has made friends with anyone quiet that fast.”

 

“That’s our Victoria,” Marie interjected with a smile of her own.

“We have to watch her constantly, or she will go and smother other

kids with affection. She’s a great kid, though.”

 

“Well, I’m glad Luke liked her. Maybe we could arrange for them to

play together?” Jack asked cautiously, looking at Joy. He didn’t

want to push, but knew that Luke didn’t get close to anyone that

fast, and wanted to make the most of it. He needed more friends in

his life, especially now.

 

Joy nodded. “Yeah, sure, and it will be easy and natural, I think,

now that you will be staying at the cabins near where we will be at.

Did I understand that right?”

 

Jack looked at her intensely as his blue eyes lit up. “Yes! And I am

so grateful for that. I am forever thankful to Seth and Rebecca for

putting up with me this long, but I’m glad that I can have a place

to have my kids spread out a little. I may have to ask all of you

ladies to help with my twins one in a while. In exchange for me

helping you, of course.”

 

Roger laughed and patted Jack on the back. “Do not worry about it

brother! We will all be helping each other. The day will come when

none of us will be able to compare who has helped the other more. We

will just do it, and it will come naturally. I know Marie has told

me that she is excited to see your babies, and young Luke, too.

Aren’t you, Marie?”

 

Marie nodded eagerly, her eyes shinning. “Oh, yes. I love babies.”

 

“Ah, yes, my darling,” Roger said, putting his arm around Marie’s

shoulders, “And hopefully soon we will have our own. As soon as we

get married, or as you say here, ‘Hitched’!”

 

The foursome laughed at his pronunciation of the term. They went on

talking about the seasons in Minnesota, and how different it was

going to be for Roger, especially during the winter.

 

“I have never seen snow,” he commented with excitement, his eyes

dancing with laughter. “Except in pictures, of course. Now I hope

and pray all of these problems go away soon, but I have to say, I am

secretly enjoying the thought of beating Marie in a snow fight.

Imagine that!” he laughed.

 

Joy enjoyed the conversation, especially getting to know her future

brother in law better. Marie had done well in waiting. Roger seemed

to be worth the wait. He treated her like royalty, and didn’t hide

the fact that he felt honored to be with her. It was all bittersweet

to Joy, as she knew that her romance with her husband had come to a

sad, dramatic end.

 

“Should we be checking on the kids?” She wondered out loud. “Where

will they have supper?” Joy felt guilty that she was just now

thinking about feeding her daughter. How could she have forgotten?

What kind of mother was she?

 

“No,” Jack responded. “They were going to feed the kids at the park.

They wanted to make sure that for this time, the adults could really

get to know each other, and that the kids could have some fun

together, too.”

 

“Well, that was a good idea,” Bethany said as she approached the

table. She grabbed an extra chair at a different table and put it

uncomfortably close to Jack’s. “Mind if I sit here?” She asked him

and she sat down, not waiting for an answer.

 

“I, uh, no. Go ahead. But I think I need to get going. I also have

to get back to my twins.” He said, pushing back his chair and

putting his hat back on. “It was really great to meet ya’ll” he said

in his best western drawl.

 

Joy grinned at his attempt to be funny as she cleared the disposable

plates from the table, including his. “Nice to meet you too, Jack,”

she said as the others chimed in.

 

She has great smile, Jack thought to himself as he tilted his hat

up. “Ladies, Sir.” he said before walking away. Jack made his way to

Mr. Bodaway to thank him for the evening and say goodbye.

 

“I see you are making new friends, Jack,” Mr. Bodaway said, raising

his hand to put it on Jack’s broad shoulder. “That’s good, real

good.”

 

Jack nodded thoughtfully. “Yes, especially if we are going to have

to come to depend on each other as much as you say we will.”

 

“Well, the end of the world as we know it will be here soon, Jack. I

suggest you go home and use your truck to haul as many things as you

can to the cabin you are going to use. Soon you may not be able to

use your vehicle anymore.”

 

Jack looked at Mr. Bodaway, his eyes darkening. “What do you mean,

Mr. Bodaway?”

 

“Don’t ask, Jack, I can’t tell you. I’ve already told you more than

I should. Just know this. Tonight will be one of last nights that we

will have enjoyed it the way we are used to. From now on, it will be

a different way of life. A different America, a different world.”

 

“Well, I guess I don’t have much of a choice but to trust you. You

haven’t been wrong so far, and I don’t expect you to start any time

soon”. Jack shook the old man’s hand, grateful for the information,

but troubled by it as well.

 

 

Joy finished clearing off the plates and other garbage from the

table with Marie’s help. Bethany had made herself scarce as soon as

Jack had left, and was nowhere to be seen.

 

“I’m going to take a short walk on the lake,” Joy told Marie,

looking down towards the shore.

 

Marie looked at Joy concerned. “Do you want me to go with you?” She

asked quietly.

 

“No, I’ll be fine. It’s just a short walk,” Joy reassured her

sister.

 

“Ok, but we will be keeping an eye on you,” Roger said playfully.

 

Joy smiled at them, hoping that it would show her strength instead

of her weakness. She made her way through the crowd to the steps off

the patio, and down to the dock on the lake. At the end of the dock

she sat down and pulled her sandals off, letting her feet dangle in

the cool water. She looked back up to where the gathering was,

surprised that it was very hard to see up the hill with all the

trees in the way. She turned back around, glad to have some time to

herself. Dave would have enjoyed this, she thought, memories of her

late husband flooding her mind. She held back the tears as well as

she could, not wanting to have any sign of having cried while she

was here.

 

“Well, hello there,” A voice said behind Joy, startling her. She

quickly wiped away the tear that had escaped before turning to

respond. She hadn’t heard anyone coming, and chided herself for it.

 

“Hello,” she was all she managed to say. There behind her stood a

short, thin man, Joy guessed in his mid thirties. He also was

wearing cowboy clothes like Jack, and it made Joy wonder if it was

common to do so in this area.

 

“I’m Simon. Simon Smith. And you are Joy Wilson, right?”

 

Joy felt a little uncomfortable that the man knew her name, but

figured that the news about Dave’s death and her being a widow had

already spread.

 

“Yes, I am,” She replied quietly as she stood up, still

uncomfortable with the situation.

 

“Well, nice to meet you,” Simon said, gawking at her figure as he

extended his hand to shake hers. “So you like it up here?”

 

Joy squirmed under his gaze and wished he wouldn’t have looked at

her like that. She wasn’t wearing anything that would put her in a

bad place, but still wished she could crawl under some covers, out

of this man’s leering sight.

 

“Yes, it is beautiful,” she murmured, taking his hand.

 

“Well, I for one am sure glad you came,” he said, still holding her

hand and not taking his eyes off of her.

 

“Um, yes. Thank you.” Joy looked up to the patio, hoping that

someone would notice what was happening, knowing it was hard for

them to see. She tried taking her hand back, but he held it firmly.

 

“Excuse me, I think I need to get back.” She said courtly, taking

her hand back a little forcefully.

 

“So, when did your husband die?” Simon asked, ignoring her

statement.

 

Joy looked at him surprised. How dare he? What was he doing? Trying

to make her cry?

 

“Yesterday,” she said looking down, her voice filled with emotion.

 

“Awww, man, I guess it’s too soon to ask you out then, ain’t it?”

 

Joy took a step back in disbelief, almost falling into the lake.

Simon reached out to grab her by her wrists and pulled her back,

close to his chest.

 

“I’ve got ya, don’t worry, I’ve got ya!” Simon grinned, revealing a

row full of crooked teeth, stained by tobacco.

 

Joy stepped back again, this time making sure she didn’t go into the

lake. “Excuse me. I need to get back now.” She said tensely.

 

“Stay and chat a little, I won’t hurt ya,” Simon said as he stepped

in her way, blocking the way to the shore.

 

“Hey Joy?” Joy heard a voice calling from the other end of the dock.

It was Jack. “You about ready?”

 

Joy looked confused for a second, and then relief swept over her

face as she nodded. “Yes, thank you.”

 

She walked past Simon quickly and made her way to the shore.

 

“Hey, where are you guys going? We were just starting to get

acquainted!” Simon yelled.

 

“We are going to pick up the kids. I told Joy I would walk her over

so no one here would bother her.” Jack said, his eyes on fire.

 

Simon tilted his head back and laughed. “Bother her? Who would

bother her in this town?”

 

“Come on, let’s go,” Jack murmured, grabbing Joy gently by the arm.

 

As they made there way back up the steps to where the rest of the

gathering was, Joy shook her arm free from Jack.

 

“Look, Jack, thank you for helping me back there, but I want you to

know, I can take care of myself.” Joy paused on the stairs and

turned to look at him, her face straight and her eyes flashing.

 

“Well, I never doubted that, Joy. I’m sorry, I thought I was helping

you!” Jack looked at her confused. He had just met this woman, and

he was already having an argument with her? He thought he had done a

good thing! Simon Smith was a slime ball, and everyone knew it. He

had been in jail for rape and attempted rape before, and Jack knew

it was only a matter of time before he struck again.

 

“I don’t want you to think I’m the poor little Wilson Widow, because

I’m not. I can and will take care of myself, and that is all I can

depend on. Now thank you for trying to help me back there, but just

keep that in mind next time. Now excuse me, I really do need to get

home.” Joy turned and raced up the rest of the stairs, leaving Jack

standing there, dumbfounded.

 

Once in the patio, Joy found her father and asked if they could get

back. Ed looked at her, wondering what had flustered her daughter

so, but agreed, not wanting to press her.

 

They worked out that Ed, Juan, Allen, Joy and Victoria would head

back to the farm, and the rest would come later. Roger and Rachel

had gone to pick Victoria up, and she was full of excitement and

laughter. Joy was glad for the distraction on the way back, but

worried about the confrontation she had just had, not only with

Simon, but with Jack, too.

 

Once back at the farm, Joy helped Juan and Allen get some things

into the nearest cabin. The place was small, but it would do great

under the circumstances. They worked hard and long, trying to get as

much stuff put away and in its place for the night. Victoria did her

best to help Joy make the beds, and soon it was dark, so they made

their way back to the farmhouse. With a double bed and two single

beds made and ready, they decided that Juan, Ann, Marie and Leslie

would stay there. Joy would stay in the same room that she had the

night before with Victoria. Roger, Marco and Allen would stay in the

basement and Bethany would stay with Rebecca, since the room that

Jack was occupying was now empty. Joy heard that Jack had moved as

much stuff as he could into the third cabin, the one furthest away

from the farmhouse.

 

Joy went to bed that night exhausted, the events of the day finally

taking their toll. She fell asleep crying again, longing again for

her husband and the comfort she knew he no longer could provide.

 

 

Jack also had a tough time falling asleep. He had been left

speechless when Joy had been offended at his help, and had a tough

time figuring her out. He and Luke had moved all of their stuff out

of the room that they had been staying in, and moved into one of the

cabins. Bethany had insisted that the sheets didn’t need to be

changed, so he had left them on the bed he and Luke had shared, and

that now Bethany was going to use, hoping that Rebecca wouldn’t

mind.

 

The cabins were rustic to say the least, but definitely livable.

Jack put Luke in a room of his own, hoping that this way he’d at

least get some more sleep. They slept on the mattresses without any

sheets, as it had been a long time since Jack had made a bed. The

twins finally fell asleep, and Jack fell into his own restless

slumber. Every two hours he woke up and fed the babies, hoping that

they would soon learn to sleep through the night, or at least a

little longer.

 

He woke up early the next day, tired and weary of what the day held

in store for him, hoping that the picture that Mr. Bodaway had

painted would never come to pass.

 

--------------------

 

 

 

CHAPTER 18

 

Joy rubbed her eyes and sat up in bed, yawning and stretching as she

stood up. She checked on Victoria, grateful that she was sleeping

well through the night again. A few weeks had passed since the

meeting at Mr. Bodaway’s house and the confrontation she had

encountered with the man named Simon, and with her neighbor, Jack.

 

Since then they had all worked hard at getting things in order and

put away as best as they could. They had separated everything into

piles by family, according to what each of them had bought. Although

they did share, it was clear that it was to be maintained separated.

Joy had put her stuff into a storage barn except for some of the

foodstuffs, glad to have a place to put everything until she was

ready to use it. She had no cabin of her own, as Jack was using the

one that was going to be for her. She thought it was better this

way, as she didn’t know if she was ready to be alone like that yet.

 

They had also worked out a schedule to help Jack with his babies.

Each of the women would take a turn helping him, and he would help

them around the farm, teaching them to do things like shooting,

harvesting and taking care of some of the animals. Joy had been busy

cleaning and organizing, and had been able to avoid spending too

much time with Jack. She felt bad for how she had treated him the

day they met, and had meant to apologize for that, but just hadn’t

gotten the chance. Once she had calmed down and had been honest with

herself, she realized that she really couldn’t do everything for

herself, and that she had to depend on everyone else as they were

going to depend on her.

 

She was still mad at God. The wound of her husband dying was far

from being healed, although a scab had begun to form. She felt like

no one else was to blame for her husband’s death but God. She knew

that He would never shut her out, and she felt as though she was in

a room, full of His presence, not being able to escape Him. In turn,

she felt as though she kept herself in a box in this room, shutting

Him out. She would have nothing to do with Him. She closed her eyes

when her father prayed, and even encouraged Victoria to do so. But

she was hurt, and had resigned herself to never being cared for by

Him again.

 

Today was the day that Joy was going to take her turn caring for

Jack’s twins. This was her first time, even though everyone else had

done it several times. She had gotten the scoop the night before on

what was expected of her, and found that she was actually looking

forward to seeing the newborn babies. She was a little apprehensive

of seeing Jack, but Marie had commented that she had only seen him

twice the days she had taken care of them, once when she got there,

and then again later when she got ready to leave and he was there to

take over. Marie said that Jack must have had lunch elsewhere that

day, as he never showed up to eat until supper time.

 

In addition to taking care of the babies, whoever was there was also

in charge of meals for the day for Jack and Luke. Luke sometimes

went with his father, and other times he stayed home. Bethany had

reported that the days she had been there, Luke mainly stayed to

himself, not saying much, and not wanting to participate in

anything. She also sounded disappointed that Ann had been the one

that had seen Jack the most. Jack had stuck around that day, and

done things closer to the cabin, like cutting wood and taking Luke

on walks.

 

Nothing big had happened like Mr. Bodaway had predicted, and it made

Joy wonder if it ever would. She knew that things had deteriorated

in the cities around the country, but was hoping things to get back

to normal soon. Even her family was starting to talk about venturing

out and going back to Mexico. Roger and Marie, along with Ed, were

the only ones that were not ready to leave. Joy had resigned herself

to this being her life, and had no desire at all to move back to the

Twin Cities.

 

Even though she had her doubts, she trusted the old man and knew

that this was probably just the calm before the storm that was yet

to come. Well, if you could call it a calm. The terrorist attacks

had stopped, with a lot of them being prevented by the local

officials. Martial law was still in place though, from dusk to dawn,

due to continued unrest in the cities and even small towns. Mr.

Bodaway had encouraged everyone to stay at the Reservation, close to

home. Once in a while Joy would hear glimpses on the radio of what

was going on outside of her new little world. Gas prices had peaked

at an all time high of $8.59 a gallon in the Northern area, higher

in places like California or even Florida. Riots had become wide

spread as people lost their jobs or couldn’t afford the food prices

that had been raised to reflect the cost of gas. Joy had been so

thankful that they were in a protected environment, far from the

riots and small wars that had broken out.

 

No one seemed to have a set schedule, and Joy looked forward to a

day when things would take a more normal pace. She had been able to

learn a few things about the farm in these few weeks, including how

to work a wood cooking-stove. She didn’t know if she would ever need

the knowledge or not, but found it fascinating to do. She had tried

to bake bread and make a few other simple things in it, but it was

taking a long time for her to get it right. Still, she practiced at

least once a day by making different kinds of breads as well as

other meals, and also helped in the garden and with taking care of

the produce that they were getting either by canning or drying it.

 

Joy got ready for the day, enjoying the hot shower against her body.

For a moment it was like nothing had ever happened, and she was back

in her apartment, humming her favorite song. Joy missed Dave, and

the closeness she had had with him. As she finished up and toweled

of, Joy wondered if anyone would ever love her the way Dave had,

want her and long for her the way he had. She sighed and pulled on

the light, long sundress that she had chosen for the day, not

allowing the tears that were forming to fall down her cheeks.

 

“Joy, you almost done in there?” Ed asked, knocking on the door.

 

“I’ll be out in a minute, Dad,” Joy said as cheerfully as she could.

 

“Already then,” came back his reply.

 

Joy finished getting dressed quickly, and went back into her room to

finish brushing her hair. Victoria had slept through it all, and was

just now waking up.

 

“Good morning, honey,” Joy said softly, smoothing Victoria’s hair

away from her face.

 

“Good morning, Mama,” Victoria said sleepily.

 

Joy laid next to her daughter for a few minutes, enjoying her close

presence. They talked some small talk, catching up on what colors of

butterflies Victoria had discovered, and how many rocks she had

collected.

 

“Well, guess what we are going to do today?” Joy asked, trying to

build up some excitement for something that she wasn’t at all

together sure she was excited for herself.

 

“What?”

 

“We are going to go to Luke’s house!” Joy said as Victoria clapped.

 

“My friend Luke? Really Mama? Yeah!”

 

Joy loved seeing Victoria so excited. It didn’t take much to get her

thrilled, and Joy wondered what happened to people that they lost

their love for life. Life, she thought as she helped Victoria get

dressed. Joy smiled as she watched Victoria gaze at herself in the

mirror after taking her braids out that she had slept in the night

before. Victoria called the curls that they left ‘triangles’, and

liked admiring herself with them.

 

After they were ready, they made their way to the kitchen where Ed

was having his second cup of coffee and Liz was preparing breakfast.

 

 

“Hi honey,” Liz greeted her. “How did you sleep last night?”

 

“Better,” Joy replied, amazed at the truth in her statement. “And

you?”

 

“Like a baby!” Ed replied.

 

“Yeah, speak for yourself, mister,” Liz countered jokingly.

 

“Are you ready to go?” Ed asked as Joy gathered the basket and small

cooler with the food she had gotten ready to take the night before.

 

“Yeah, I think so.” Joy nodded her head. “I’m taking along some toys

in case the kids want to play inside or it rains and they can’t play

outside. And I think I have all the food I need for the rest of the

day too. We do breakfast too, you said, right?”

 

“Yup. That way Jack doesn’t have to worry about any of that, and he

can focus on other things that he has to do. As it is he is getting

a broken night of sleep, but he has insisted on keeping the babies

with him at night.” Liz said, setting the table for everyone else

that was going to be there eating. “But what’s really going to get

you is how they have to wash dishes. It’s kind of a bear, having to

haul in the water, but I guess everyone has tried to leave the place

clean for Jack at the end of the day.”

 

“Ok, then, I guess I’ll do that to!” Joy said, faking her

enthusiasm.

 

Liz laughed. “I know washing dishes isn’t your favorite thing to do,

honey, but you’ll survive.”

 

“Oh, I’ll try,” Joy laughed, heading for the door. “Well, we better

go. Have a good day everyone!”

 

Victoria got off her Grandpa’s lap that she had been sitting on, and

went and gave her Grandma a kiss. “Love you, Grandma!” She called,

running out to the front porch.

 

“Bye sweetie, love you!” Liz called out as they left.

 

Joy and Victoria made their way to the last cabin, carrying all the

things they needed for the day. Joy wished she had some kind of cart

or something to carry all the stuff, but the weather was beautiful

and she enjoyed the walk immensely. Once there she put the stuff

down on the porch and knocked lightly on the door, apprehensive of

what was to come.

 

Jack opened the door slowly, and was surprised to see Joy and

Victoria standing there. “Good morning,” he said quietly stepping

back to let them in.

 

“Good morning. Are the babies sleeping?” Joy asked, picking up the

basket as Jack carried the cooler in.

 

Jack nodded. “Yes. They just both fell asleep. Thank you for coming,

I’ll be leaving soon,” Jack said. He felt a little uncomfortable

with Joy there, knowing that their last encounter had not ended so

well. He had done a good job avoiding her, until now.

 

Joy nodded as she busied herself getting breakfast ready. Victoria

had sat down at the table and had made herself comfortable looking

at a book.

 

“Where’s Luke?” Victoria asked, looking at Jack.

 

“He’s still sleeping, but he’ll be up soon.”

 

“Ok,” Victoria responded simply and went back to her book.

 

Joy looked at Jack over her shoulder. “How is he doing?” she

whispered.

 

Jack left what he had been doing and joined her over by the small

propane stove she was making breakfast at, glad that Joy seemed to

be over whatever he had done to tick her off.

 

“He didn’t sleep well last night, he had a couple of nightmares. He

said that he dreamt that his mom came today, and that they were able

to spend lots of time together. I wasn’t able to spend as much time

with him as I wanted because of the twins, but I thought you should

know. What are you doing?” He asked, peering over her shoulder.

 

“What am I doing? I’m making breakfast! What does it look like I’m

doing?” Joy kicked herself for responding so strongly. She hoped

that he saw that she was humored by his question, not bothered. She

was hoping to make peace with this man, not make things worse.

 

“Well, I know you are making breakfast, I just wondered what.” He

answered in kind.

 

“Pancakes. Pancakes and some fruit that I cut up last night,

together with some homemade syrup that someone from town made. Is

that ok?” Joy smiled, nodding at the cooler.

 

“Yeah, sure,” Jack shrugged. “Beets having cereal,” he grinned

sheepishly.

 

“I can arrange that if you’d like,” Joy laughed quietly, trying not

to wake up the kids.

 

Soon she was done making breakfast and had Victoria helping her set

the table. Jack had offered to help, but Joy had shaken her head,

wanting to involve Victoria in whatever ways possible. As Victoria

set the plates down for everyone, the door to Luke’s room creaked

open.

 

Joy turned to look at him and smiled. “Good morning Luke, how are

you today? I’m Joy, Victoria’s Mommy.”

 

Luke looked at Joy with wide eyes, but didn’t say anything. Victoria

stopped what she was doing and went and stood next to him.

 

“Luke! We are going to have pancakes and fruit! Do you want some?”

Victoria asked pulling him towards the table. “Here. You put these

plates over there, and I’ll put these over here. Then we need forks,

too.”

 

Luke looked a little dazed, but did as he was told. Soon they were

all sitting at the table, ready to eat breakfast.

 

“Let’s pray,” Jack said, bowing his head.

 

“Wait!” Victoria interjected. “We aren’t holding hands!”

 

“Oh, honey, we don’t always have to hold hands when we pray.” Joy

tried to talk her out of it.

 

“But I want to!”

 

“It’s ok, Joy. We’ll hold hands, ok Victoria?” Jack said. “I have a

feeling God likes it better like that anyway,” he smiled and winked

at her.

 

Victoria grinned as she reached out her small hands to hold Joy and

Jack’s hands. Joy was relieved that at least she and Jack were

sitting across from each other and didn’t have to worry about

holding each other’s hand.

 

They ate their meal quietly, once in a while whispering something to

each other. Victoria would giggle, thinking that it was funny that

they were being so quiet, only to be shushed by the others and then

they all tried hard not to laugh out loud.

 

Once they were done, Jack got up and helped Joy clear off the table,

with Luke and Victoria helping as well.

 

“Mommy, can we go outside to play?” Victoria asked after they were

done clearing the table off.

 

“What do you say?” Joy asked, her hands on her hips.

 

“Please?” Victoria asked, batting her eyelashes.

 

“Sure. Make sure that Luke wants to go too, and stay close to the

cabin, ok?” Joy said putting her hand on Victoria’s head and

stroking her hair.

 

“Ok! Luke, do you want to go outside with me?” Victoria asked,

turning to look at him.

 

Luke nodded his little blond head, looking at Jack.

 

“It’s ok, Luke, you can go.” Jack reassured him. “Stay close though,

ok?”

 

“Yes, Papa.” Luke responded quietly.

 

As Victoria and Luke made their way out, Joy looked at Jack. “Nice

kid, Jack.”

 

“Thank you. He’s always been quiet, but more so since his Mother

passed away.”

 

Joy nodded. “I figured that much. I’m worried about Victoria. She’s

hardly even mentioned Dave.”

 

“Yeah, it’s hard to know what is going on in those little minds.”

 

“Well, I’m not sure I’m going to figure it out today, but I do know

that these dishes aren’t going to wash themselves. Now how have they

been doing this?” Joy asked.

 

“Well, actually, I’m not sure.” Jack said, a little embarrassed.

“I’m usually gone by now.”

 

“Oh. Well, do you need to go?”

 

“I suppose I should,” Jack started to say, but was interrupted by

one of the twins.

 

“I’ll go,” Joy said, excited to finally get to see the babies.

 

She left Jack standing there, and went quietly into his room. The

place was filled with boxes and big black bags, and it looked like

he had been sleeping on the mattress without any sheets. She bent

over and picked Victor up carefully from the crib that he shared

with his sister, caressing his cheek. Victor turned his head towards

her, trying to find her breast.

 

“Oh, I’m sorry, honey,” Joy laughed. “Right equipment, just not

functional right now. Come here. Let’s get you something to eat.”

Joy took little Victor out into the main room and found the bottles

that Jack had prepared. Jack had left, but the door was open and she

could see him outside, busy getting water from the well with a hand

pump.

 

“Man, your Papa makes that look easy,” She murmured to Victor. She

was glad he had set the bottles out, and it was simple enough to

prepare the formula, even one handedly. She knew that breast milk

was the best, but obviously this would have to do in a situation

like this.

 

Victor ate contentedly and Joy barely had enough time to burp him

and change his diaper before his sister woke up. Joy went and put

Victor down and picked Grace up. She wasn’t used to two babies,

especially not at once.

 

Joy busied herself taking care of the babies as Jack continued to

get water into some large containers out on the porch. By the time

he was done, both babies were well taken care of and happy. Soon

they were fussing, trying to fall asleep. Joy made sure that their

diapers were dry and that they had been awake for a sufficient

amount of time before laying them down again. As soon as she put

each of them down, they started crying. Joy bent over and kissed

each one, and left the room.

 

Jack stood in the doorway, bringing in a couple buckets of water.

“Aren’t you going to rock them to sleep?” he asked, a little

confused.

 

“Well, I can if you want me to, but I learned with Victoria that

it’s best that they learn to fall asleep by themselves. It worked

wonders for her. She was sleeping through the night at three months

old.” Joy responded, taking a cup and filling up a pot with water to

heat up.

 

“Really? And you just laid her down?”

 

Joy nodded. “Yes, but you need to be consistent. If you aren’t, you

are just shooting yourself in the foot, making it harder on you and

them.”

 

They talked for a while about the method, and finally Joy put the

hot water in to wash the dishes. The twins had stopped crying after

a few minutes, and gone to sleep.

 

“Well, it worked!” Jack said, surprised.

 

“Yeah, it did. Sometimes it takes longer than other times. And I’ve

never done it with twins, but they seem to have done ok. We’ll see

how it goes for next time.”

 

Jack nodded. “I’m very impressed. So, do you need some help here?”

 

“No, I don’t think so. Thank you for getting the water, Jack.” Joy

said, thankful that she hadn’t had to get the water herself.

 

“No problem. I wish I had thought of doing it before. I’m afraid

your sisters and Bethany all had to get their own. I’ll make sure

these barrels stay full from now on.”

 

“Well, I’m sure they will appreciate it as well,” Joy said, adding

some of her home made soap to the water.

 

“Man, that smells good!” he said, leaning into the steaming water.

“What is that?”

 

“That,” Joy smiled, “is lavender soap. I made it myself.”

 

“Really? Well, I wouldn’t want to smell like that, but it sure

smells good! You sure you don’t need any help?” Jack said, still

breathing it in.

 

“I’m fine, Jack. It’s not the first time I’ve done dishes you know.”

 

“Alright then. I’m going to take off. What time do you want me to

come back for lunch?” He asked, looking at his watch.

 

“Lunch? You can’t possibly be thinking about lunch!” Joy teased him.

“Is one o’clock ok with you?”

 

“Man, give a guy a break! It’s hard work getting all that water!”

Jack teased back. “Yes Ma’am. One o’clock sharp it will be.” Jack

tipped the hat he had just put on, and left the cabin.

 

Joy smiled and shook her head. Jack turned out to be nicer than she

had thought after their encounter that first day. She would have to

apologize for treating him so badly that first day. She finished the

dishes quickly, glad that Jack had left the door open. It was

getting warm, and this way she could get some breeze and keep an eye

on the kids outside.

 

Joy was surprised at how much Luke came out of his shell when he was

with Victoria. He seemed like a whole different person, and Joy

appreciated that he was careful to tell Victoria when to stop if she

was getting to close to something dangerous, or going too far away.

 

Joy finished the dishes and checked on the babies. Since they were

still sleeping, she decided to tidy the place up a bit, and make it

more livable. She found some paper, and after cleaning the cabinets

from sawdust, she carefully lined the shelves with the paper and put

the dishes that Jack had out away.

 

She went into Luke’s room, and saw that he was also sleeping on just

the mattress, with a sleeping bag for a blanket. She looked through

some of the boxes, finding everything but sheets for a single bed.

She did find some queen sized ones, so after checking on all the

four kids, she busied herself quietly making Jack’s bed, careful not

to wake the babies up. She’d send some single bed sheets home with

who ever came the next day, so that Luke would have a nice bed to

sleep on too. For tonight she tucked in an extra queen sheet so that

he would at least have something.

 

Then the babies woke up, and Luke and Victoria came in from playing

outside, thirsty. This is where it’s going to get tricky, Joy

thought, trying to manage all four kids at once. She picked up Grace

first, asking Luke and Victoria to wash their hands before sitting

down at the table. They used the left over water from the dishes,

and sat down, eager to get their drinks. Joy poured them some water

in juice glasses while still holding Grace, tipping one of them over

and spilling water all over the floor.

 

She still had to deal with Victor, and wasn’t sure where Jack had

more towels to be able to clean up the mess. Just then Jack walked

in, at one o’clock sharp, just as he promised.

 

“Oh, no, Jack! I’m sorry!” Joy blushed, embarrassed that he had

walked in at the worst possible moment. Both babies were crying by

this time, the water was all over the table and floor, and Victoria

was talking loudly trying to get Joy’s attention. And to make

matters worse, he was on time, but she hadn’t made lunch!

 

Jack laughed and came to Joy’s aid. “Here, let me take Grace,” he

said, taking her from Joy. That freed up Joy to get the towel she

had used to dry the dishes earlier and gave it to Victoria to help

clean up the mess.

 

“But I didn’t spill it, Mama!” She complained.

 

“I know honey, but right now, we all have to help, ok?” Joy said as

she went to get Victor. “

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