I am convinced I am my own worst enemy. Last night as I was lying in bed waiting for sleep to hit me, I started writing today's blog in my head... I often write when I'm trying to sleep - dumb, I know. Anyway I was thinking about the story and that Karl was returning from the mountains, but then started to think about the father (Charles) of the Bell children. Something happens to him, and I knew it happens before Karl returns home from the mountains.... but it had not happened yet, and the last post Karl was returning.
OMG! I missed a chapter somewhere, or maybe when I was copying and pasting from my document to the blog, I dropped something. Anyway, I was still wide awake at 3:30 AM! Why didn't I just get up, turn the computer on and check the document? WeLL.... you'd think that's what any normal person would do... Ha!
So this morning, I hauled out the hard copy of this book and grabbed my stickies... no more sleepless nights for me. I have plotted the blog posts on paper, so now when I copy and paste, it will be with some precision...
And for the record... I did not forget a chapter, or drop a section - the part I was thinking about is coming up next. I wasted a nights sleep for no good reason!
So here we go. Winter Wheat Chapter 8 continues....
Emilie had no idea what to do. It had been three days since the Bell family had happened upon her doorstep, and with every passing day the father, Charles, withdrew more and more into himself. She had tried everything she could think of to divert his mind from his tragedy, but it seemed he only needed to see his children before he became overwhelmed him with emotion. She had no doubt that seeing his children reminded him of the mother they had lost, the wife who had perished. His eyes would connect with whoever was in the room, then fade away as if he saw nothing at all and then he would withdraw from them all with appalling certainty.
This morning Emilie had awaked to a soft mewing sound coming from behind the wood stove. She had followed the sound across the chilly wood floor to find Charles crouched tightly in a ball, lying behind the nearly cold wood stove.
“Charles?” She fell to her knees in front of him and reached to touch his shoulder, “Charles, what are you doing here? Come, let me help you up.” Her words penetrated his despaired state of mind but he shrugged away from her hand in a defiant gesture.
“Mary, Oh Mary!” Charles wail was almost incoherent in his grief.
“Charles, look at me. Charles can you hear me?” she grabbed his arm less gently this time and pulled hard until he moved forward. She looked him square in the eye, and shivered at the emptiness that looked back at her. She tugged harder on his arm and when he had cleared the stovepipe, she wrapped her arms around his chest and pulled him upright. He was like a rag doll, and even though he was not a big man, she felt the full weight of his body threatening to bring them both to the ground.
“Charles you must help me get you to the sofa. Come Charles, walk with me; that’s it - one step – another - there you go; that’s the way!”
It took her several minutes to get him to the sofa that was still warm from her body. She gently lowered him to sit on the edge, and then pushed at his shoulders until his head touched the pillow that she had used the night before. She bent to lift his legs up on the sofa, and was amazed at how heavy and useless they appeared.
“Charles, you must lie here and rest while I make breakfast. That’s it, close your eyes.” She gently drew the covers up over his shoulders and stood by a moment to make sure that he would not move. She watched as he pulled his legs up until he was in a tight ball once again. He started to mumble incoherently as he rocked his body back and forth.
Fear struck her heart, as she made her way across the room to the kitchen where she busied herself preparing breakfast for the children, all the while watching Charles as he lay, eyes wide open, apparently not seeing a thing. When the children arrived for their breakfast, she tried to keep them occupied so they would not notice how much worse he appeared, but they noticed in spite of her efforts and questioned her as to why their father was acting so strangely.
It was Sue, who spoke to Emilie of her father’s condition. “My Dad is really sick, isn’t he…?” She said as she watched her father’s unusual behavior from his place on the sofa.
Emilie put her arm around the young girl’s shoulders and pulled her away from the other children so they could talk more privately. Sue was older than the other children and perhaps would understand the situation more than her younger siblings. Emilie lowered herself in front of the child and attempted to explain.
“Sue, I think der Vater . . .father . . . is very, very ill,” Emilie told the young girl, in a voice that admitted the seriousness of the situation. “I think he is all right in his body, but in his head he is a very mixed up. I don’t think that right now he can cope with the loss of your home, or the death of your mother.”
Sue listened to Emilie’s words carefully, her eyes were wide with fear as a steady stream of tears made their way down her small face. Emilie knew that she understood perfectly the severity of her father’s condition.
“I’m going to ask Frederich to take your father to the doctor in town so the doctor can check him over. I think he needs more help than we can give him, Lieben,” Emilie said as she gently brushed the tears from the child’s eyes.
“Will he die?”
“Oh no, I don’t think anything like that will happen, but he might have to go away for awhile until he gets better.”
Sue nodded her head and regarded Emilie with renewed respect. “You have been so kind to him. I have seen how hard you try to help him.”
“That’s because I know a little bit about how he may be feeling. I have also lost all of my family, and sometimes it hurts so much that you think you will never get over it.”
“Do you ever get over it?” Sue asked with an understanding much greater than one of ten years of age should have.
”Yes, in time.” Emilie said sadly, knowing that her words were very true. There was a time she too had thought that she would never get over the death of her parents and her younger siblings, but she had. She was even starting to heal from her loss of her beloved brother, Wilhelm.
“What will happen to us, if my Dad has to go away?”
“You will stay right here, with me, and Karl and his family. I would never let anything happen to any of die Kinder,” Emilie assured the young girl vehemently.
Sue leaned forward and wrapped her thin arms around Emilie’s neck and clung tightly with all her might. Emilie pulled the child close and wrapped her arms tightly around the young girl’s waist.
“Everything will be okay, Sue. You’ll see . . .” Emilie promised the child, and hoped that her words would not be an empty promise.
They released each other and returned to the table where the other children were still eating their breakfast. The children were all subdued, and Emilie knew that they had heard some of her conversation with Sue. As if she had made up her mind to do all she could to help her siblings; Sue immediately took her place among them and turned her attention to assisting the younger children, as was her custom at each meal. Emilie’s heart wept for the young girl because she knew that in the next few months she would loose the innocence of childhood more and more everyday as she tended to the needs of her family in place of the mother they all had lost.
Emilie took a bowl of warm cereal over to where Charles lay on the sofa. When she approached him, he rejected her and the food immediately.
“Charles,” Emilie pleaded, “You must eat. Why don’t you try some of this nice porridge I made?” She tried to coax him to take a bite of the food, but to no avail. He turned his face away from her, and refused the food outright.
“I’ll just leave it here for you, Charles,” Emilie pulled a kitchen chair close to the sofa, and placed the bowl and the spoon on the seat of the chair. “Maybe you will feel like eating it later…”
She returned to the children with a heavy heart. They had witnessed the exchange between her and Charles; the silence in their sad eyes and their sullen expressions weighed heavily upon Emilie’s heart. Children should not have to witness an adult they love deteriorate in such a horrible way. She vowed that this would be the last day that Charles’ children would watch his torment and suffering. When Frederich came by later today, she had every intention of forcing the issue of getting Charles some medical attention.