Thursday, June 23, 2016

Testing: Day 15

Word Count: 90,019

Year to Date: 600,051

Summary of Events:
Gabriel arrived home from church and saw Ivy, her parents, and the Bramwells at Thomas' grave, once most of them had left, Gabriel went and said goodbye to Ivy, kissing her hand. Ivy got somewhat upset and quite shaken up by the way Gabriel kissed her hand, and then when she realised that she would be leaving sight of Thomas' grave began to wonder if she really wanted to go home. Gabriel worked his arm a little bit and thought about both how he needed to be careful with trying to halter Jude, and how much he wanted to help Ivy. Ivy and her parents left for Ketchum, with plans in the works for a family gathering to celebrate Thomas' birthday in August, and plans in Ivy's mind for planting a rosebush cutting at Thomas' grave. Gabriel slowly worked with Jude to get the halter on . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"But Gabriel still had to tread carefully. With the amount of tension he could feel — not only where he was touching, but veritably radiating off of the stallion like heat waves — he knew that if he were to make one mistake, Jude would explode.
Getting to where his elbow was at the top of Jude's neck, Gabriel stopped, as usual, rubbed Jude's neck gently, and fed him a small handful of oats.
He patiently waited until Jude had eaten them all before continuing to advance his upper arm along the top of the stallion's neck. Being as he was only so tall, this was where the pressure came in and Jude got difficult.
Gently, gradually, he built the pressure, raising up on his tiptoes to help graduate things nicer as he pressed down, asking Jude to lower his neck so that it would be in a more comfortable spot.
As soon as Jude dropped Gabriel rubbed his neck and gave him another small handful of oats, so that he knew dropping his head was something that was good. When he felt the pressure on the top of his neck, dropping his head was what he was supposed to do, not throw his head up and back away.
Once Gabriel's arm was fully in position he passed the long strap of the halter to his right hand. He remained still for awhile, letting Jude see. The slower the better. He had to let Jude take everything in.
Slowly Gabriel raised the noseband so that it was hovering in front of Jude's muzzle and held it there, continuing his steady stream of words, often repeating things over again, before slowly sliding it toward Jude's muzzle.
Jude started to step back and raise his head, but Gabriel managed to soothe him. He stopped as soon as he'd gotten the noseband in place and managed to give Jude a small handful of oats.
Once the stallion was done eating them Gabriel successfully brought the strap around and fastened Jude's halter.
Letting out the breath he hadn't realised he'd been holding somehow, Gabriel spoke praises to Jude, rubbed his neck, and gave him a lot more oats, along with a bit of the fresh, green clover he'd picked and brought in as an extra special treat.
Things were definitely going well. Gabriel was more than certain that he would be able to get to Ketchum within the month — not that such was guaranteed; just because things were going well now didn't mean they were going to keep going that way.
With the same slow, methodical process, Gabriel removed the halter and gave Jude the last of the last of the clover to enjoy before slipping quietly out of the stall. He returned the halter to its place and put his sling back on.
Working with Jude was definitely testing, testing how much he knew about horses, how much he could trust a horse, and how well he could convince a wild horse to trust him, but it wasn't as testing as Miss Oldford."

Next post will be July 1.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Testing: Day 14

Word Count: 84,021

Summary of Events:
Ivy decided to go and see Thomas' grave one last time, despite the fact that her mother didn't want her to go walking alone. Gabriel had finished his work with Jude for the day and watched as a customer treated the horse he'd rented poorly, prompting the horse to flee; Gabriel then chased the horse down and caught it when it nearly ran Ivy over, returned to town and told his employer, who got into a screaming fight with the customer before the customer attempted to shoot the horse and shot Gabriel instead. Ivy watched the whole thing unfold before heading to the cemetery and seeing Thomas' headstone for herself for the first time. Gabriel was released by the doctor once his arm was treated and saw Ivy in the cemetery, where he went to visit her. Ivy returned home and told her parents and the Bramwells what had happened . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
""So what happened?" Mrs. Bramwell asked.
"Well, a man wanted to rent a horse from the livery stables," Ivy replied. "He asked for a good tempered horse, and was given one, but he treated the horse roughly, and so the horse reacted in an ill tempered way. He tried to beat the horse in reprimand, but the horse escaped him, he then demanded a refund of the liveryman and believed the liveryman had given him an ill tempered horse instead. The liveryman refused to give the refund, saying he'd indeed given a good tempered horse, and the customer merely mistreated it. This point was proved when Mr. Raider brought out the horse in question fully tacked and gave a fine display of its abilities. The sheriff then told the liveryman and the customer that he ruled the liveryman should keep the money as compensation for what the customer did to his horse, and that he was not under obligation to grant the man the horse, lest the man still treat the horse poorly. The man then went to leave, angry with the judgement, but at the sight of the horse he came back with intent to shoot the horse. Mr. Raider, still aboard, manoeuvred the horse to save its life and was in the process struck himself by the shot intended for the horse while the sheriff shot the man in the arm, also to save the horse's life."
"My goodness!" Mrs. Bramwell exclaimed.
Ivy noticed Mother was pale as a bed sheet, her eyes wide.
"Is Mr. Raider alright?" Mr. Bramwell asked, looking alarmed.
"Yes, he's fine," Ivy replied. "It went into his shoulder, I even saw him walking around after having been tended to by the doctor."
Mr. Bramwell sagged back into his seat, relieved.
"Who's this Mr. Raider?" Father asked.
"A friend of the Bramwells," Ivy replied quickly.
"Ah," Father said, while both Mr. and Mrs. Bramwell looked at Ivy with confused expressions.
"You were shot at," Mother whispered, looking on the verge of collapse.
"Not at all," Ivy replied. "I was well away from the shooting."
Away was probably more the truth than well away, she'd probably been fifteen or twenty feet behind the disgruntled customer and about five or ten feet to his right — when he turned around to shoot the horse.
"You were near shooting," Mother whimpered.
"Gladys, it's alright, God kept her safe," Father said.
Ivy nearly lashed out at her father for the comment, but she took a deep breath and let it be. If he wanted to think that then it was all well and good for him. Besides, it would probably help her mother to feel better."

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Testing: Day 13

Word Count: 78,021

Summary of Events:
Ivy's parents arrived to take her home, bringing her brother with them to bring their other team and wagon that had brought Ivy up back home as well. Gabriel worked with his colt and thought about Pastor Schnetler's suggestion that he might love Ivy, and felt that it was very much true. Ivy and her father had a private time together with him talking and her nonverbally replying that she really appreciated. Gabriel worked with Jude and made progress a little bit faster than expected — even with it still taking over an hour — and was quite happy with it.

Excerpt of the Day:
"Gabriel gave Jude one last handful of oats before thanking the stallion for his cooperation, then going to the back of the stall and hanging the halter there around one of the bars, and finally leaving the stall.
Jude had actually made some pretty good progress. Gabriel had a feeling it was because there was a trust between them. Jude trusted that Gabriel wouldn't hurt him, and that if he said no, he would be listened to.
Gabriel was just progressively testing that trust so that he could get Jude to do things for him, and so that he could put more of his trust in Jude. Really, working with Jude was a test in trust for both of them.
Much like working with Miss Oldford, except that Gabriel was quite sure he was getting further with Jude than he was with Miss Oldford. Of course, he hadn't seen Miss Oldford in nearly a week.
By now her parents would be here. Gabriel hoped that she hadn't told them anything negative about him. He didn't want to be shunned by any more people than he had to, and he also didn't want Mr. and Mrs. Oldford's perceptions of him to be built off of untruths, he wanted them to be able to meet him themselves and form their opinions that way.
He also hoped that he would be able to see Miss Oldford at least one more time before she left. He wanted at least to apologise, whether she accepted the apology or not, and hopefully that would ease things the next time they ran into each other.
Not that Gabriel wanted there to be too much of a break between seeing her here in Elk City, and seeing her in Ketchum. It all depended on how soon Jude accepted the halter.
Today's progress had been good, however, there was still more that needed to be done. Jude would let the halter get close to him, but he wouldn't let it touch him, and he hadn't looked at it yet.
Hopefully Mr. Watson wouldn't try to get it from the back corner of the stall and Jude would have some time to examine it all on his own. Gabriel was certain that would help, although he was also certain that if he had a braided rope halter Jude might be less leery, but he was going to work with the leather halter for now because that was what he had, he'd have to get supplies for a rope halter soon, though.
Leading Jude would probably be the most unsettling part. If nothing else Gabriel might have to leave the halter on with a lead attached to it for a few days, then he'd have to bring a horse in to work on ponying.
Gabriel had a feeling there was still a good month's work ahead of him before Jude would be able to leave Elk City, and even that trip could still be dicey; Jude might still run off on him in the night or something, he didn't really know."

Monday, June 20, 2016

Testing: Day 12

Word Count: 72,015

Summary of Events:
Gabriel went to visit Ivy again and found that she seemed to have forgotten all that they'd discussed, things degenerated as he tried again and in the end he left after Ivy gave him several blows to the eye. After he left Ivy determined that she would return home on her own, but the Bramwells didn't want to let her go unescorted and ended up locking her in her room until she settled down. Gabriel had a hard time sleeping, wrestling with the feeling he'd failed, so he went to visit Pastor Schnetler . . . 

Excerpt of the Day:
""Sit down, tell me," Pastor Schnetler said, looking concerned.
Gabriel sat down. "I managed to get my point through to her not long after we last talked, and then I let her be for a few days to think it over before I decided to stop by again and see if she had any questions for me," he said. "I don't think she thought on it at all — not that I told her to or anything — and she seemed like she'd forgotten the whole thing. I tried to explain things to her again and it just didn't work and then I said that there might well come some good out of Mr. Bramwell's death, and I was meaning soon, and she got upset at me and I was frustrated because she seemed to have forgotten everything I told her and then she told me to leave and never come back and then started hitting me in the eye and then I told her to let me go and I left. I then realised later that Mrs. Bramwell, in her effusion of words when she greeted me, told me that Miss Oldford's parents are coming on the weekend to bring her home and I've completely blown my opportunity and now I'm never going to get it again."
"Now wait just a minute," Pastor Schnetler said. "You talk too fast in English for me. So she didn't seem to remember anything you told her?"
"No," Gabriel replied.
"Don't you think that the devil might've convinced her to put it out of her mind, telling her it was lies and not what he was telling her?" Pastor Schnetler asked.
"Yes," Gabriel replied.
"You didn't fail," Pastor Schnetler said. "And besides, nothing said that you were going to succeed in convincing her. Maybe that's someone else's job."
"I don't want it to be someone else's job," Gabriel said.
Pastor Schnetler looked at Gabriel with intrigue. "And why not?"
Gabriel stared at Pastor Schnetler, his shoulders dropped, his breath coming rapidly as he fought the urge to weep. He had no idea.
A slight smile curled Pastor Schnetler's mouth. "Do you have an affection for her?"
Gabriel startled and stared at Pastor Schnetler, his mouth agape.
"There is no harm in it," Pastor Schnetler replied. "I am merely asking."
"I don't know," Gabriel replied.
"Regardless, maybe it is not yet the time," Pastor Schnetler said. "You have done well, I do believe, but remember what the Apostle Paul says: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.* Your battle is not easy, but you have fought valiantly, and now it is time for you to regain your exhausted strength, reevaluate your position, and then forge on, possibly to another conflict yet before God calls you to meet with Miss Oldford again — should it even be that He should do so.""

*from For to places is Eph. 6:12 King James Version

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Testing: Day 11

Word Count: 66,016

Summary of Events:
Gabriel came to call on Ivy again, which didn't impress her, but, she let him stay until he was finished talking and left of his own accord. Gabriel worked with Jude some more and thought about how he loved horses, and how he hoped he might be able to purchase Jude, and the logistical difficulties of owning a stallion, a mare, and a gelding, especially with the stallion not being fully tamed. Ivy spent some time in thought about Gabriel, the Bramwells, and the thing she wanted most in life.

Excerpt of the Day:
"It had been some time since Mr. Raider had visited, for which Ivy was on one hand thankful, and on one hand surprised. He'd let her be for one day at the most before, but now it'd been several days.
She was pleased, and hoped that he'd finally said all he wanted to say and was going to leave her alone. She didn't like what he had to say to her. She enjoyed spending time with the Bramwells and hearing their discussions about different things that didn't pertain at all to what Mr. Raider felt she had to do.
They talked about Thomas, and reminisced and cried, but they didn't try to tell her that she was wrong for thinking God had robbed her of Thomas; they all wanted him back as much as she did.
Sometimes they even talked about things that had nothing to do with Thomas, or with God, which Ivy was finding to actually become a bit more of a relief the more she listened to it.
At first she'd been upset, and felt like they were disgracing Thomas' memory by not talking of him, but she'd thought about it, and Thomas hadn't been one who really cared to be the centre of attention, he'd liked talking about a wide variety of subjects.
He would be pleased to hear his family talking of things other than him, despite the fact that he would never be among their conversations, and he would probably have been highly embarrassed if he would've actually been present while they'd been talking about him all the time.
Thomas would've wanted things to go back to normal. There was work to get done, there were other things to do and think about other than him.
It was hard to do, though. Thomas meant so much to all of them, and Ivy felt he'd meant the most to her. She'd talked of him often — although not much in his presence — even when he'd been alive.
Of course, when a person loved someone else, that person often became the focus of their attentions, and they were hard pressed to think of something else without that person coming to be involved in their thoughts in one way or another.
She didn't really know what else to talk about either. It'd been such an elating idea to think that she would finally be getting married. When Anna had accepted Walter's proposal Ivy had first been upset, but then she'd watched with rapture the whole process, and then and there, at the age of ten, turning eleven, decided that she wanted to get married and have a man to love her as much as Walter loved Anna.
That was still her dream, but now that she was without Thomas, how was she supposed to realise it?"

Friday, June 17, 2016

Testing: Day 10

Word Count: 60,017

Summary of Events:
Ivy was again called on by Gabriel, who sought to explain to her why he believed she wouldn't go to heaven — reasoning which displeased her greatly. After leaving, Gabriel thought about how he couldn't possibly give up on Ivy. Ivy sat through church thinking about how glad she was that the Bramwells had company coming over, which would keep Gabriel away. Gabriel went to lunch at the home of Pastor Schnelter, who pastored the Lutheran church he attended, and explained to him what was going on with Ivy . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
""We'd done a basic summary of Joseph's life, and I speculated on how long it was before Joseph and Jacob reunited, but Moses only says that Joseph was seventeen when it all began, one hundred and ten when he died, and that he was in prison for two years after the bulter was restored to the Pharaoh's service," Gabriel said. "So it could well have been some fifty years between separation and reunion for all we know, or it could've been sooner, we're not really left with much of a clue. And my point was to show her that she might be separated from Mr. Bramwell for a long time — a time that I was going to yet tell her she ought to decide what to do with, as pining for Mr. Bramwell would be a waste."
Pastor Schnetler nodded again as Gabriel took a sip of his coffee.
"She then made a comment with a way about her that seemed to suggest she might plot to take her own life," Gabriel continued. "Not exactly something I would like to see anyone do, and so, in order to dissuade her, I told her that if she were to die on the morrow I didn't believe she would enter into God's presence, at which point she got quite upset and even managed to shove me over backwards. I let her be for a day before coming again to explain to her why I had reached that conclusion: she is — for lack of a better term — a Pharisee. She does all of the right motions and things, and says all of the right words, but she hasn't repented of her sins for some time, and on top of that, she's blaming the One she claims to trust for taking her fiancé."
"She is in very great trouble," Pastor Schnetler said.
"I fear that I am only alienating her," Gabriel said quietly.
"Whether she will come back or not is up to God's determination, although I do not believe — whether it be failure or success — your efforts will be in vain," Pastor Schnetler said. "For your battle here isn't so much with her as it is with the devil who has so greatly deceived her. You will gain experience in his tactics, and in doing whatever it should take to defeat him, and with such experience will be better able to face whatever further challenges God should lay before you in future days."
"I want her to come back," Gabriel said.
"You have a very Godly heart within you," Pastor Schnetler said. "You know well what would please God, and you endeavour to do it as He would so have you. So long as you do not destroy yourself if it is God's will that you should not succeed, I am sure God will be well pleased with you."
Gabriel nodded, although a pain throbbed in him. He didn't want to fail. He wanted to succeed!"

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Testing: Day 9

Word Count: 54,017

Summary of Events:
Ivy watched for Gabriel's arrival, although she had no answer for his challenge, and couldn't imagine how she was supposed to. Gabriel arrived and had a lengthy discourse with Ivy, ending when he stated he didn't believe she would go to heaven if she died the next day. Ivy lay awake at night, unable to find rest in slumber, nor in remaining awake, at the thought of not going to heaven. Gabriel, having decided to let Ivy alone for a day, went about slowly working with the half-wild stallion that had gotten him his job at the livery stable.

Excerpt of the Day:
"Gabriel thought it ironic that, on one hand, he was dealing with a stallion he was sure had been roped in off the range and broken to ride, savage, angry, and distrusting; and on the other hand, he was dealing with a young woman who had comparable beauty — and savagery even — was broken by the loss of her fiancé, and also savage, angry, and distrusting, both because they thought he wanted to dominate them, and both not wanting to have anything to do with him.
Slowly he lifted the bolt. He didn't bother trying to be quiet. Jude knew his goal. But Jude didn't realise his intent, just as much as Miss Oldford didn't seem to. He didn't want to dominate Jude. He wanted Jude to trust him.
The same so with Miss Oldford: he didn't want to dominate her and force his opinions down her throat, he just wanted her to trust God, he wanted her to realise that God wanted the best for her, but what He knew best and what she thought best could be often disparaging — more often than they were in line — he wanted to be for her a liaison of God.
Hard, forceful breaths came through Jude's nostrils as Gabriel slowly opened the stall door and slid inside. Gabriel didn't want to force himself onto Miss Oldford any more than he wanted to force himself onto the stallion.
He merely wanted to help them to understand that what they believed wasn't the truth. God was not cruel, unkind, or sadistic, and men were not all brutal and unkind.
Gabriel wondered if God had given him this job at the livery stable, and put Jude here, for just as much of a reason as He seemed to have placed Gabriel at Mrs. Goddard's next door to the Baptist church and cemetery.
Working with Jude, Gabriel felt, had helped him to refocus somewhat. It put his work with Miss Oldford into a different perspective, and helped him to think carefully, and choose his words cautiously, because he knew one wrong move with Jude could cause the stallion to explode in rage and even bring about his death, while saying something wrongly with Miss Oldford could cause her to shun him forever and possibly forever reject God and leave God brokenhearted.
He was God's emissary with Miss Oldford, and he wanted to make sure he got things right, lest he cause someone to think wrongfully of God because of his mistake, when God was supremely perfect.
Slowly Gabriel raised his hand and offered it to Jude. His nostrils flared wide enough to nearly inhale an egg, the stallion examined the offering, but no relaxation came to him, he maintained his tension, just like Miss Oldford."

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Testing: Day 8

Word Count: 48,017

Summary of Events:
Gabriel was returning from work at his new job at the livery stable and saw Ivy sitting in the cemetery; she looked particularly frail and out of it, not to mention Gabriel thought it was awfully late, so he saddled his horses and took her to the Bramwell's where he was invited to stay to dinner before leaving — although Ivy caught him and asked him a question before he left. Ivy gazed out the window at the mountain landscape until Gabriel arrived to give her an answer to her question . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
""I should think you would know why I'm here," Mr. Raider said.
"I do," Ivy replied.
"The question you asked of me last night, I must say, was both elementary, and difficult," Mr. Raider replied. "The answer, honestly, is quite elementary to deduce with only a brief survey of the Bible, it is the explanation of the answer, however, that is quite difficult."
Ivy shifted her jaw, but said nothing, she wanted an answer, after all.
"You asked, in essence, how a bad thing could happen to someone who hasn't done wrong," Mr. Raider said. "However, not everything bad happens because a wrong was done. Like the one blind man that Jesus healed. He had been blind from birth, and as Jesus and His disciples engaged with him it was speculated as to what sin had caused him to be blind, however, Jesus said that the man's blindness was not because of sin, but because God would be glorified. Not everything that is perceived ill is done because of a sin, some is done for God's glory. And so not everything that is perceived good is done for blessing, as it can also be a curse, such as someone receiving a lot of money, but having no friends."
Ivy nodded, although she wasn't entirely sure she followed.
"What I am saying, is that Thomas' death did not necessarily come because he had been unrepentant," Mr. Raider went on. "Although we cannot know his heart ourselves to know for certain, by his testimony we can draw the conclusion that it was not due to unrepentant behaviour on his part."
She followed now, and nodded again.
"And I, for one, doubt that there was any sin in your heart, or in the heart of any of Thomas' relations for which God killed him," Mr. Raider added, looking at her in the eyes. "Being as Jesus died the Perfect Sacrifice for the forgiveness of all sins, I have my doubts that God would kill anyone else for other people's sin."
Mr. Raider's gaze was particularly intense, but Ivy faced it determinedly.
"In fact, I believe that God ordains to each man a certain sum of days," Mr. Raider said. "He knows our days, and when it comes that our days have reached their sum, we expire. The details are known by God, but that is what I believe. And Thomas' days were a sum of barely twenty five years."
"He would've been twenty five in August," Ivy replied flatly.
"Well then his sum was less than twenty five years," Mr. Raider said. "That leads to the answer to the core question — why did Thomas die? — being quite elementary: because God allotted only twenty four years and nine months to his days. But, of course, that leads to another question."
"Why?" Ivy asked, quite sure that he wanted her to supply it.
"Yes, why did God only give Thomas twenty four years and nine months?" Mr. Raider agreed. "And to that question, I have no answer.""

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Testing: Day 7

Word Count: 42,007

Summary of Events:
Gabriel went to visit the doctor and had his suspicion confirmed that his leg wasn't broken. Ivy went to visit Thomas' grave and ended up sitting silently across from Gabriel again before she started crying, Gabriel then went to embrace her, which upset her and made her ask him to leave. Gabriel went and visited with his horses and thought about how he was probably going about things badly with Ivy. Ivy was told by the Bramwells that her parents wanted to come and visit, but only when she felt she was ready for them. Gabriel went and sat across from Ivy at the cemetery again and apologised for his poor conduct before leaving shortly. Ivy headed back to the Bramwell's house and thought about Gabriel's apology. Gabriel went to go back to work, being better now, and received an unpleasant surprise . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"Arriving at the office to report for work, Gabriel found the line was short, and being as things moved swiftly, he was soon at the head of the line. The clerk startled when he looked at Gabriel, furrowing his brow.
"What are you doing here?" he asked.
"My shoulder's recovered, I've come to start working again," Gabriel replied.
"Oh," the clerk said, looking highly puzzled.
Gabriel didn't see what the issue was, but he waited quietly and patiently as the clerk filed through the papers all about him before finally coming back and shaking his head.
"You were released from our employ two weeks ago," the clerk replied.
"What?" Gabriel exclaimed. "I came with a note from Dr. Ellington saying I couldn't work for two weeks because he didn't want me to re-injure my shoulder, but I fully intended to come back to work once he said I could."
"Well, according to what I have here you're no longer our employee," the clerk replied. "I recall receiving the note, though."
"So then what happened?" Gabriel asked.
"I submitted it to the manager," the clerk replied. "And I guess he decided that the mine couldn't afford to run without you, and so hired someone to replace you, as we did hire someone two weeks ago."
"Oh," Gabriel said. He felt a little disheartened. He didn't need to keep up his income, as he didn't really have any plans of going anywhere. Once he was going to leave he could stop working, but right now he still needed something.
"I'm sorry," the clerk said. "You could always talk to the manager if you want an explanation."
Gabriel sighed. "No, it's alright, I can probably find something else to do."
The clerk nodded and Gabriel left the office.
He wasn't sure what else he could find. Mrs. Goddard had offered to look for him before, but she hadn't told him about anything, and on top of that, mining was the main driver of Elk City. The majority of people worked in the mine, and if the mine were ever to shut down, Elk City would likely become a ghost town.
There wasn't much for work outside of the mine, and if Gabriel couldn't find work outside of the mine then he would probably have to leave.
Being as Miss Oldford was still here, though, he wasn't sure that he wanted to. He didn't want to leave her. He wanted to give her help, and until he'd achieved that goal, he had no intent of leaving her.
Of course, she wasn't a local, so whenever she ended up going back to her hometown  he could follow her and get work there, but until then he needed to stay here and do something.
But what? That was definitely a good question, and Gabriel had no answer to it."

Monday, June 13, 2016

Testing: Day 6

Word Count: 36,022

Summary of Events:
Ivy went to visit Thomas' grave. Gabriel saw her and decided to go talk to her. Ivy wasn't pleased by the visit and by what Gabriel tried to offer as comfort to her and left. Gabriel felt badly for her and decided to go read up what the Bible had to say about loss. Ivy went to visit Thomas' grave again and Gabriel came; she continued to be disagreeable and even kicked Gabriel in the shin repeatedly before leaving once again. Gabriel got ice for his swollen shin and worked to convince Mrs. Goddard his leg wouldn't be broken. Ivy went to visit Thomas' grave again, having gone unbothered by Gabriel of late, and thought about the unfairness of Thomas' demise.

Excerpt of the Day:
"And it seemed that someone, whose name happened to be God, didn't want her to be happy, because if He would've wanted her to be happy then Thomas would still be here and she wouldn't be sitting beside a grave thinking all of these wishful thoughts.
She wouldn't have been condemned to unhappiness if God wanted her to be happy, she was more than certain of it. Not that she saw why God would want her to be unhappy when He seemed more than willing to let other people be happy. What was wrong with her?
If she couldn't be happy, then why could anyone else be? It didn't seem particularly fair at all that she should be deprived of all of her happiness while everyone else was able to enjoy things and experience joy.
Ivy quickly raised her head, certain she'd heard something. She found that, indeed, she had. She'd heard Mr. Raider ducking under the aspens that surrounded and peacefully shaded the cemetery.
Half of her wanted to run, but half of her wanted to stay and see what sort of infuriating things he would say today. It appeared that the half of her that wanted her to stay was the stronger half, being as she didn't move.
It looked like Mr. Raider was favouring the leg she'd kicked slightly, but not too much, and she caught herself feeling grateful, not that she was sure at all why she would feel grateful. He was itinerant and infuriating, why should she be glad he wasn't hurting?
Mr. Raider had a long and brisk stride that covered ground quickly, bringing him to the grave swiftly. He then settled down comfortably cross-legged across from her, giving an acknowledging nod, but not saying anything.
If he wasn't going to say anything, she wasn't going to say anything. She didn't want him here, so she wasn't going to talk to him. She was going to stay here and think about Thomas, and the injustice of his death.
She was going to think about how cruel it was of God to have taken Thomas from her, and how unfair it was that He seemed so determined to make her life miserable when she hadn't done anything to deserve it.
And Thomas hadn't done anything to deserve dying either. He hadn't done anything wrong. He was a good man who prayed regularly, confessing any sins, and asking for their forgiveness. Why should he be killed for no good reason?
Tears filled her eyes as she stared at the dirt that covered her fiancé. There was no reason for Thomas to have suffered such a premature demise, and there was no reason that her fiancé should've been so unjustly taken from her either.
Neither one of them — much less any of the other Bramwells — had done anything to deserve this cruel robbery of Thomas' life. She couldn't imagine how God could possibly take pleasure in ruining people's lives."

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Testing: Day 5

Word Count: 30,016

Summary of Events:
Gabriel ended up dislocating his shoulder while trying not to fall at his work, and so as to aid his recovery was ordered off work for a few weeks. Ivy got ready for the funeral and sat through it numbly, wishing instead it'd been her wedding. Gabriel was out working with his horses — being as no heavy lifting was required there — and watched the burial, noticing a beautiful young woman lingering at the graveside. Ivy sat through the visiting after the funeral for longer than she wanted before making her escape to sit at Thomas' graveside again and mourn his loss, along with finally dredging up memories of her older sister who'd died years ago. Gabriel was sitting and reading indoors when some new guests arrived at Mrs. Goddard's house; they happened to be his former teacher, who was convinced he should remember her, and her husband.

Excerpt of the Day:
"Gently setting his hands on her shoulders, Gabriel looked down into Mrs. Lindmark's eyes.
"I am very sorry that I do not remember you," Gabriel said. "But, as much as I can remember many a thing, there are some things that even my mind considers unnecessary to retain, and you were one of those things."
"How dare you say such a thing!?" Mrs. Lindmark cried, shoving Gabriel, who released his grip. "How dare you say it was unnecessary of you to remember me!?"
"I haven't seen you in more than twenty years!" Gabriel exclaimed. "Why should I remember you? If I had been older when I'd known you, maybe, but as a child, there really is no sense."
Mrs. Goddard grabbed Gabriel's arm to feed it back into the sling. Gabriel pulled it away and looked at her with a touch of irritation before removing the sling from around his neck and giving it to her.
"I remember the first time I saw you as clearly as I see you now!" Mrs. Lindmark exclaimed.
"Yes, and you were about twenty one at the time, you should be able to remember those sorts of things," Gabriel replied.
"You were the tiniest thing," Mrs. Lindmark said. "So delicate, your head wreathed in a golden halo of light, so soft as silk, eyes bluer than the sky itself, such a precious thing in my arms as I minded you. I've never loved a child more than that, nor will I ever. My first child."
Gabriel startled and took a step back. His heart was pounding. No. That couldn't be true.
"Mr. Ræder, I'm sorry," Mr. Lindmark said, putting a hand on Gabriel's shoulder. "I tried sending letters to you several times, but I believe they were all put into the fire, and not into the postbox."
Gabriel turned to stare at Mr. Lindmark. He felt cold.
"I do believe my wife is slightly infirm," Mr. Lindmark went on. "And this affection of you which she possesses has come to delude her to the point of believing that you are her offspring, and not the offspring of your parents, but I can pledge to you on my honour and on the honour of your own father that you are the son of Sigmund and Karolina Ræder, and not the son of Sigmund Ræder and Greta Klaassen, nor the son of Daniel and Greta Lindmark."
"Thank you," Gabriel whispered. He couldn't say he'd ever felt a greater terror than he had in that moment, and the relief that rushed through him at Mr. Lindmark's words was like rain in the desert."

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Testing: Day 4

Word Count: 24,012

Summary of Events:
Ivy sat in a grief-stricken haze while visitors came and offered their sympathies and then started to get mad at God for killing Thomas. Gabriel received another letter from his former teacher and had to write a lengthy response because she still wasn't getting things right. After church Ivy sat in her room and continued to think about how God was terribly mean, having taken Thomas from her. Gabriel went out to feed his horses and discovered that a grave was being dug at the cemetery next door, by one man, so he decided to go help. Ivy wrote a letter to her parents about what'd happened to keep from thinking about Thomas' upcoming funeral.

Excerpt of the Day:
"He and Mr. Jaffray worked in silence for awhile. Gabriel felt with the two of them working at it things were already going faster, although even still he wasn't sure that they would be able to finish digging the grave by nightfall.
"Do you mind my asking who died?" Gabriel asked. "I haven't heard anything."
"Good young kid," Mr. Jaffray replied. "I think he was going to be twenty five this year if I'm not mistaken. My youngest boy and him were good friends."
Gabriel nodded. It sounded terribly unfortunate.
"Thomas Bramwell was the name," Mr. Jaffray said. "Was helpin' his folks rebuild their barn, it'd collapsed because of the snow we got this year — that was some snow it was; were you 'round these parts this winter?"
"I was," Gabriel replied.
"That was some snow," Mr. Jaffray said. "Anyways, from the sounds of things he fell off the barn and landed on his head. Sure way to kill anybody."
Gabriel nodded.
"Worst part is, though, he wasn't livin' 'round here," Mr. Jaffray said. "He was livin' down in Ketchum workin' . . . as a shepherd? I think it was a shepherd."
Gabriel nodded again. He noticed Mr. Jaffray had slacked off of his digging, but Gabriel didn't blame him for that, he'd been working at it longer, and he was rather old.
"Terrible tragedy," Mr. Jaffray said. "Saw the family on Sunday. Frank and Frances were all shook up, but they weren't nothin' compared to Dave. Lord, Dave looked half like he was dead. I think he must've seen Tom fall, either that or he saw Tom first. He looked terrible. Course now Dave's short a brother, and even though he an' Tom had a good five years between 'em, they were close as ever. When I read that verse about the friend who sticks closer than a brother, I think of 'em, helps put a picture in your head. God's closer even than that. Now that's somethin'."
Gabriel nodded. He and Erik were five years apart, and he was twelve years older than Paul, then on the other end he was fourteen years younger than Bjorn. Even though he and Erik had the same age difference as the Bramwell boys, Gabriel was more than certain they hadn't had the same sort of relationship.
"Ethel looked purt hit real hard too," Mr. Jaffray went on. "Course she was always more inclined to play with the boys. I think she halfways felt like Tom was her own boy. She got tore up quite when he went of to Ketchum, always fussin' about him. Even more'n his own mother did! All them Bramwells was close, though, so't's not really surprisin'."

There will be no post on June 10, the next post will be June 11.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Testing: Day 3

Word Count: 18,006

Summary of Events:
Gabriel read a reply from his former teacher and sent another one, trying to explain to her that a seven year old doesn't have the same memory as a twenty eight year old. Ivy minded the children so they didn't get too close to the construction site until lunchtime, where she chatted with Thomas. Gabriel met his former teacher's son and talked with him quite a bit, impressed to find out that he'd apparently had a profound impact on his teacher. Ivy was helping cook in the kitchen when she heard something happen at the barn, but was kept from finding out what it was . . . 

Excerpt of the Day:
"Ivy nodded, rising from her seat and looking out the window. The men were all gathered on the ground, and their gathering prevented her from having a view.
"Do come sit back down," Mrs. Pharis said. "Everything's alright."
"No it isn't," Ivy replied. "I know it isn't. The way Mrs. Bramwell looked at me there is no way on earth everything is alright, besides, all of the men are gathered around like an accident has happened."
"It's alright," Mrs. Pharis insisted. "Come sit down."
"And it's Thomas," Ivy declared. "Mrs. Bramwell wouldn't have looked at me all the time if it wasn't Thomas, and you wouldn't have taken me from the kitchen if it wouldn't have been Thomas. I need to go see that he's alright."
"Please, it's alright," Mrs. Pharis said, settling her hands gently, yet firmly, on Ivy's shoulders and steering her away from the window. "Come, tell me more about what you've planned for the wedding."
Ivy pulled away from Mrs. Pharis and hurried into the kitchen. All of the women looked up at once before crowding in front of the door. It looked like they were both blocking the exit and hiding someone.
Whirling around, Ivy bolted for the front door, dodging around Mrs. Pharis, and closed it behind her. Margaret, who was watching the children, looked up with a start, and the children stopped their playing to watch as Ivy ran around toward the barn. She had to see Thomas.
She was quite near to the men when several of them looked up and saw her. David Bramwell hurried out and caught her. Desperately she tried to fight him, but his hold was strong.
"Ivy, please, you're not supposed to be here, go back inside," David said.
"No!" Ivy protested, struggling violently. "Something's gone wrong with Thomas!"
"David!" a sharp call sounded that prompted Ivy to still. "You can tell her, just don't let her come here."
Ivy looked up at David. He was staring at her with a haunted expression, his face pale, his eyes glassy, almost like he didn't want to do what he was about to do. His lower lip quivered.
"I, Ivy . . . I'm sorry Ivy," David said quietly, shakily. "He fell . . . he's gone."
Ivy felt she must've screamed, she didn't know what she did, but the entire world dissolved into a blur around her. She may've dropped to her knees, she wasn't sure, she didn't feel David's hold lessen on her, if anything he may've embraced her to himself.
Tears were flowing and blurring her vision, she felt sobs wrenching her body, but she didn't feel like she was hearing them at all. It couldn't be. How could this happen? Why did it have to be him? Why did Thomas have to die?"

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Testing: Day 2

Word Count: 12,009

Summary of Events:
Gabriel chatted with Mrs. Goddard over supper, commenting that he wasn't happy about the amount of time he spent with his horses, and she offered to look for a different job for him; he the received a letter from a woman who said she was a former tutor of his, but he couldn't remember her. Ivy and Thomas arrived at his parents' home after dark and were welcomed warmly before heading to bed. At lunch Gabriel stopped an argument between a couple of men over politics, but he still hadn't found the son of this apparent former tutor of his, who was how she'd even found out about him. Ivy was helping the Bramwell women prepare lunch for the men working on the barn and found herself quite worried.

Excerpt of the Day:
"When she got a moment to glance out the window she could see the men working at the barn. They were still removing the broken, fallen timbers, and a man had gone up on either end and managed to saw the front and rear walls off at the same height as the rest of the walls so that they didn't have to worry about more collapse.
Ivy was worried, though. She wanted them to just take down the whole barn and start again from the beginning. Not that she knew why.
If the bottom portion of the barn was structurally sound, there really wasn't any sense in tearing it down and starting all over again, they could just build onto it and it'd be all fine, she was quite sure.
But yet she wasn't sure. She was worried, and had taken to now avoiding looking out the window as much as possible. It disturbed her that she was so worried, and the worst part was that she couldn't explain why. She felt like it was dangerous, but the men were more than confident that it was fine.
Even Mr. Bramwell and David had told her she was being over-worried and it would all work out just fine — and they should know better than Thomas even because they lived on the same property as the barn and knew how well they cared for it and what kind of condition it was in.
Still, though, Ivy couldn't be at rest. She determined as much as she could to force the fearful thoughts from her mind. Everything would be fine. The barn's walls had stood well for this long, they weren't going to fail now, especially if they weren't even rotted.
Ivy bustled about her work as quickly as she could. She was in a way surprised that no one had asked why she was so worried, but she also wasn't; they'd just met her this morning, they likely didn't know that she was worried, nor did they know what she was worried about — other than Mrs. Bramwell.
It upset her that she was so worried. Everyone else knew there was nothing to be worried about, but she couldn't seem to make the worry go away. It wasn't the first time that such a thing had happened to her, but it was by far the worst she'd felt and the most worried she'd felt.
In the end, every other time, everything had turned out alright, just as everyone else had been so confident of, and she was more than certain it would be the same now, consciously, but her subconscious would not let her stop worrying. It seemed to be clutched in terror, as if her subconscious knew something she didn't, not that she was sure how, she'd not even been here a full day.
Some form of disturbance had been around her since she'd arrived, though, and it only seemed to grow with the passage of time, not lessen, no matter what Ivy did to try and get herself to settle down."

Monday, June 06, 2016

Testing: Day 1

Word Count: 6,023

Summary of Events:
Ivy and Thomas set out from the Oldford farm for Elk City and Ivy pressed Thomas to try and describe his family to her a little bit more, even though he didn't really feel he knew how. Gabriel fed his horses and did what little work he could with them before going inside and eating the meal Mrs. Goddard — the owner of the rooming house he lived in — had kept warm for him. Ivy thought about how much she loved Thomas and how she now understood what her sister Anna and sister-in-law Mildred had been experiencing when they'd been preparing for their own weddings years ago better . . . 

Excerpt of the Day:
""You're surprisingly quiet," Thomas said softly.
"I want you to be able to hear your family when we arrive," Ivy replied, smiling.
Thomas smiled, uttering that soft, low, warm chuckle that flooded her heart with joy she was sure a woman could only know when she had a wonderfully perfect man for herself.
"I appreciate your consideration," Thomas said quietly, the smile still on his face. "Of course you have always been very considerate, even to people you don't like, I've noticed."
"Oh, thank you Thomas," Ivy said, flushing.
"I haven't made you considerate," Thomas said.
"For the compliment Thomas," Ivy replied.
"Oh, you're welcome," Thomas said, a bit of colour creeping into his cheeks as he kept his gaze steadily on the horses.
"I'm even considerate to people I don't like?" Ivy asked.
"Not as considerate as you are with people you do like," Thomas replied. "But yes."
"How so?" Ivy asked, honestly not sure how that could possibly work.
"Well, you do as the Golden Rule: you treat others the way you would like to be treated," Thomas replied.
"Don't you have an example?" Ivy asked.
"Well, Ophelia Calvert," Thomas replied.
Ivy shuddered.
"I knew you wouldn't like to hear it," Thomas replied. "But Ophelia always talks you down for being so good and kind, and having such lovely appearance as you do, whereas you say nothing about her. You ignore her unkindnesses, and also, you make no comment about her because you have nothing nice to say about her. Not even now. You just keep silent and put it all aside. That is, in a way, considerate, if you know what I mean."
Ivy shifted her jaw, not sure she understood.
"You know that you don't like the way Ophelia treats you, so you considerately refrain from treating her in the same manner," Thomas said. "You've chosen to show her some caring and consideration despite the fact that she shows you none in return."
"I guess that is true," Ivy said. "And in part, I must admit, I don't understand why she treats me like she does."
"Jealousy," Thomas replied. "Ophelia gets the impression that you're faultless, not to mention I've heard that more than once a young man she met first because she lives in town completely forgot about her as soon as you walked in the schoolroom door when the session started."
"They obviously never bothered to talk to me," Ivy said. "Although I've always thought men go after the blondes, so Ophelia should be the one with the crowd of men."
"And that's what she thinks too, however, it seems all of the men around here have an affinity for raven-haired women such as yourself," Thomas said, a smile blossoming over his face. "Myself included.""