Historical Fiction

        Sadie set the basket of rolls down on the table as the front door shut. "There," she whispered. "That should be it."

 "What's for sup?" Davy, her younger brother, asked. His frowsy brown hair hung in front of his soft green eyes.

Sadie smiled down at him. "A beautiful rabbit stew Mama just finished cooking. Come, Davy. Let's see if we can mend your trousers any better." Looking up, she saw Papa standing in the doorway, taking his mittens off.

"Good evening, children. Where is your mother?" he asked, his deep voice like the rumbling of thunder.

 "In the kitchen," Sadie replied as Davy ran into Papa's arms. "She used that rabbit you got this morning."

After a few moments, Mama came out to announce supper. "Go warsh. Thank you for setting the table, Sadie. Hurry, Davy.

After saying grace, Papa cleared his throat to signal he was about to say something as Mama dished the stew in the chipped, old bowls on the table.

"Children, we must begin to head up to Oregon as soon as we can. I fear the trail may get worse as the year passes with all the snow and ice. I talked to a man today who is organising a wagon train. We leave in two weeks before the snow."

 "But, what about our first Christmas here?" Davy whined.

Mama placed a hand on his shoulder. "I'm sorry, dear, but in order to make it there before the bad weather we must leave very soon."

"You promised!" he accused, sinking into his seat.

 "Oh, dear, we did. But we'll have our first Christmas out on the trail," she pointed out.

"It's not the same," Davy grumbled back.

"Watch your mouth, lad. You may enjoy your studies on the wagon again. Inside the warm, cozy wagon," Papa warned, taking a spoonful of the stew.

"But what of horses, Papa? Or oxen? We sold the ponies when we got here so we could buy the house," Sadie asked, blowing on her steaming bowl.

 "I'll deal with the fact of that later, Sadie. For now, everyone eat. Hot meals may be harder since it will be in the winter," Papa ordered, bringing silence to the table.       

"Dear, don't frighten them," Mama pleaded.

"Mama, Papa, please don't fight again!" Sadie begged as Davy looked sadly into his half empty bowl, his spoon sitting on the edge in a chip.

"Silence, girl. Only speak when you're told," Papa boomed, slamming his fist down on the table.

"But Papa-" Sadie began.

"We let it go too long. If you are finished with your supper, you may go. No, either way, go to bed," Papa demanded.

"No, darling. You just said yourself, that hot food may become more uncommon. Let her finish. Everyone must have at least second in order to, well, let her eat, John," Mama said quietly, looking down in her lap.

"Are you on her side too, woman?" Papa growled, clutching his spoon so tight that his knuckles turned white. He looked down at it, noticing its wornness. "Go polish the silverware when you finish, then, Sadie."

"I'll help you too, Sadie," Davy spoke up, now sitting up tall in his seat.

"No, boy. Do as you are told, not as you please. I order you to read your Bible until your sister finishes. Maybe you will learn some good from it," Papa said, now eating and almost finished.

"John, be gentle. He wants to help his sister," Mama cut in, letting her spoon fall onto the table with a clatter.

"But May, the next thing you know he'll be wanting the dogs to ride in the wagon with us, he'll want his own pony, he'll want his own wagon soon enough!" Papa shouted, running his hands through his hair.

"No I won't!" Davy cried.

"Silence!" Papa boomed.

"John, the only thing he'll want is love and a dog," Mama pleaded, exhausted from arguing.

              “See, he’s being needy and greedy and unthankful! He wants more than what he has when first he has to be thankful for what he gets,” Papa grumbled.

              “I wonder where he got it from!” Mama shouted indignantly.

              Father slammed his fist on the table again, causing everyone to jump. “Be quiet so I can eat my supper in PEACE!” he yelled.

              Again they became silent, only the clink of the spoons against the bowls and the sound of the wind outside could be heard.

              “Are you finished yet?” Mama asked Papa, taking Sadie’s and Davy’s dishes.

              “No, I’m not done yet,” Papa snapped.

              They became silent again, Mama waiting for Papa to finish. Davy twiddled his thumbs and almost began to whistle but caught himself. Sadie crossed and uncrossed her legs under the table, pretending to study dirt under her fingernails.

              “Who will take the first bath after I clean up the kitchen?” Mama finally asked, still standing over Papa’s chair as he purposely slowly ate his stew.

              “I will,” Davy said quietly. “Sadie still has sewing to do on my pants.”

              Mama lowered the bowls down. “Why, Davy?”

              “I fell off out of that old elm in the back and scraped myself on a root,” Davy admitted.

              Mama sighed. “Please be more careful, Davy.”

              Papa handed his bowl to Mama. “Yeah, Davy. Be careful or you’re not going to have any more pants left.”

              “Did you really have to say something?” Mama demanded.

              “Did you have to add on to it?” Papa shot back.

Sadie, tears sliding down from her cheeks, whispered, "Why do you have to turn everything into a fight? Is our family going to be split up forever? Broken into pieces like this?"

"No. No, of course not, child. We will put this family back together if it breaks our necks and backs to do so," Mama replied, tears streaming down her own face.

"Maybe I was a bit harsh, and I don't mean most of it. I'm just nervous about the trip, I suppose. But, don't worry you two. This family is together. Together forever," Papa said softly, wrapping them in a big bear hug with his long arms.

 "Together forever," Davy whispered. "I like the sound of that." 

November 25, 2019 02:17

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