Mara braced herself against a pier draped with thick, wet rope and let the ocean wind whip her hair free from its tight bun. Her calico dress pressed against her thin legs, outlining her willowy shape. The salty spray reddened her pale cheeks.
A tall ship bounced on the rippling waves as men dashed about securing it in place, and merchants lined the shore with flapping lists hugged tight to their chests.
Wiping a splash from her face, Mara remembered the tears that she had so often rubbed away.
Parson Wells strolled by and lifted his hat in greeting. “Hello, Mrs. Samuel. Come to see the ship in again?” His raised eyebrows conflicted with melting pity in his eyes.
Mara nodded, though her gaze never left the sea. The glorious clear sky and pink sun set her heart beating with a vibrant, almost unrecognizable strength. Seagulls screeched and sent a thrill along her arms.
“Your husband’s been busy as a bee this season—what with all the new orders.”
Dropping her gaze, Mara remembered her place and peered softly at the elderly man. “Certainly, sir. Caleb is mighty grateful for the work.”
A beckoning in the distance offered the old man an escape. He tipped his hat. “My regards to your husband.”
Mara returned the proper nod and watched the parson hurry away. Soon her gaze roamed over the sea once more. She had to pull her herself away.
Townsfolk bustled along on their morning errands, unmindful of others’ preoccupations.
As she strolled toward her husband’s blacksmith shop, a little boy scurried past, brushing against her. Stopping in mid-motion, she gazed after the curly little head as it bobbed along, weaving in and out among the crowd of sailors and merchants. Gripping her nerves with a mighty will, she continued her journey and stepped into the front room of her husband’s shop. Her eyebrows rose. There stood the little boy, handing a paper to her husband.
Caleb read the note, then squatting down to the boy’s level, he spoke softly. The child answered and Caleb laughed—the first laugh Mara had heard in months. Reaching forward a tentative hand, Caleb tousled the boy’s thick curls, dug in a deep pocket, and tossed the boy a coin. The child, grinning widely, swooped from the shop like a sparrow setting off for a new adventure.
Mara stepped in, her gaze watching her husband’s eyes as he followed the departing figure.
Startled from his reverie, Caleb glanced over. “You see it in?”
Mara nodded. “Safe and sound. Looks like a good haul. The merchants lined the shore like hawks at hunting time.”
Caleb peered into the dying embers of his fire.
Mara circled around the glowing mass and came to stand next to him, not quite touching. “Why do you still have me go? You know Jamie will never—”
Slapping the bellows with a muscled arm, Caleb shouted. “He might. Someday.”
With a light touch, Mara laid her hand on her husband’s chest. “He’s gone where no ship can bring him home.”
Caleb swung around and began to work the bellows, firing up the flames. “If he be dead—so I be.” Without lifting his eyes, he nodded toward the door. “Let me work.”
A child’s shadow flittered passed the doorway.
Mara’s gaze lifted toward the rising sun. Turning in the doorway, she watched her husband’s muscles strain with a mighty effort. “For now, Caleb. For now.”
As she strolled outside, a woman’s song cascaded along the street. Mara’s face softened. “Someday—we’ll live again.”
Novels by A. K. Frailey
Last of Her Kind http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg
Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN
Coming in 2018…
OldEarth ARAM Encounter (In production)
OldEarth Ishtar Encounter (In production)
OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)
OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)
Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r
The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5
The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd00