Anna's Forgotten Fiancé

By: Carrie Lighte

CHAPTER ONE

Anna Weaver slowly opened her eyes. Sunlight played off the white sheets and she quickly lowered her lids again, groaning. Her mind was swirling with questions but her mouth was too dry to form any words.

“Have a drink of water,” a female voice beside her offered. “Little sips. Don’t gulp it.”

The young woman supported Anna’s head until she’d swallowed her fill and then eased her back against the pillow. Anna squinted toward the figure.

“You’ve had an accident,” she explained, as if sensing Anna’s confusion. “You’re at home recovering. It’s your second day out of the hospital. How do you feel?”

“Like a horse kicked me in the head,” Anna answered in a raspy voice. She blinked several times, trying to focus.

“You recognize me, don’t you?” the woman asked. “I’m Melinda Roth, your cousin.”

Technically, the woman wasn’t Anna’s cousin; she was her stepmother’s niece. I doubt I could ever forget the person who captured my boyfriend’s heart, Anna thought. Aloud she replied, “Of course I recognize you. Why wouldn’t I?”

“The Englisch doctors said you still might have trouble with your memory, but apparently you don’t,” Melinda answered, appearing more disappointed than relieved.

Anna felt a pang of compassion. It was obvious Melinda felt guilty for what had transpired between her and Aaron. Anna had forgiven them both, but forgetting what happened was a little more difficult, especially since she had to live under the same roof—and share the same bedroom—with Melinda. Each time Melinda tiptoed into the room after her curfew, Anna was made acutely aware of how much her cousin was enjoying being courted by Aaron.

“The only trouble I have is that I’m a bit chilled,” Anna said.

Melinda placed a hand on Anna’s forehead. “You don’t have a fever, thank the Lord. The doctor warned us to watch for that. I’ll ask Eli to bring more wood inside for the stove.”

“The woodstove in August?” Anna marveled. “That would be a first. Please don’t trouble Eli on my account. I’m certain once I get up and move around, I’ll be toasty warm.”

“Lappich maedel!” Melinda tittered as she referred to Anna as a silly girl. “It isn’t August. It’s the first week in March.”

Anna propped herself up on her elbows. Although she figured Melinda probably meant to be funny, her head was throbbing and she was in no mood for such foolishness. She knit her brows together and questioned, “You’re teasing, right?”

Melinda shook her head and gestured toward the maple tree outside the window. “See? It doesn’t have its leaves yet.”

“How could that be?” A tear slid down Anna’s cheek.

“Uh-oh, I’ve said too much.” Melinda jumped to her feet and unfolded a second quilt over Anna’s legs. “That should keep you warm.”

Anna stared at her cousin, trying to make sense of the scenario. Then she began to giggle. “Oh, I understand! I’m dreaming!”

“Neh, neh,” Melinda contradicted, giving Anna’s skin a small pinch. “Feel that?”

Completely befuddled, Anna bent her arm across her face. First, she’d lost her boyfriend, then she’d lost her father, and now she feared she was losing her mind. It was simply too much to take in and she began to weep fully.

“You mustn’t cry,” Melinda cautioned. “The doctor said it wasn’t gut for you to become upset. We don’t want to have to take you back to the hospital.”

Melinda’s warning was enough to silence Anna’s weeping. “I don’t understand how two seasons could have passed without my knowing.” She sniffed.

“The doctors said it’s the nature of a head injury like yours. You may remember things from long ago, but not more recently. You’ve also been on strong medications for your headache and for hurting your backside when you fell, so even your hospital stay might be fuzzy.”

“It is,” Anna acknowledged. “And I don’t recall injuring myself. How did it happen?”

“You appear to have slipped on the bank by the creek, hitting your head on a rock,” Melinda replied. “Do you know what you may have been doing there? Or where you were going? It was early Tuesday morning.”

Anna tried to remember but her mind was as blank as the ceiling above. She shook her head and then grimaced from the motion.

“That’s okay,” Melinda said cheerfully. “How about telling me some of the more important events that you do remember?”

“My daed’s funeral,” Anna responded. “It was raining—a deluge of water—and then the rain turned to sleet and then to ice.”

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