Supernatural-The Newspaper Series
Sarah was the sole daughter and the youngest child in her family of seven. Jeremiah was an only child, born to his parents after several miscarriages. The two youngsters met as toddlers and enjoyed each other’s company during religious outings and attendance at the elementary school run by the church. There were no high schools in the farming community. Children were taught to read and write but education stopped just short of encouraging ambitious notions of higher learning in the big cities. Offspring was needed on the farm to supply labor.
After completing school, Jeremiah and Sarah continue to bond on Sundays during church until one of Sarah’s brothers noticed their affection for each other and reported his suspicions to his parents. As a result, Sarah was not allowed to leave her homestead unescorted by a family member and had to sit in church surrounded by her parents and brothers. Heated land disputes that erupted at the same time between the families made their budding love affair forbidden. Jeremiah’s parents stopped going to church to avoid confrontations with their aggressive neighbors. Jeremiah helped his father build a tall fence between the two properties, allowing the disputed territory to remain in the hands of Sarah’s family. Seeking peace, his parents ceded the three-foot-wide strip of pasture that ran for half of a mile down to a river where the properties ended.
When Jeremiah arrived at the fence on the third day to continue its construction, he noticed a tightly wrapped piece of paper on the ground. He snatched it up and rushed into the outhouse. His heart pounded and his fingers trembled when he unwrapped the paper.
Like Jeremiah, Sarah was suffering from a loss of appetite and sleepless nights. She wanted to meet him by the river at midnight.
That night started a series of romantic dates by the river. Sarah risked her life by clambering up and down a balcony post and scaling over its rail to be with the boy she loved.
After a few trysts by the river’s edge, their romance heated up and they had to tear themselves away from each other to climb back into bed and avoid getting caught by their early rising family.
Sarah dreamed of eloping to a big city to be together forever. Jeremiah feared for her safety if her family found them. Also, as the only child of his parents, he could not put them through the suffering of abandonment.
A year later, Sarah disappeared. Jeremiah assumed that their rendezvous by the water’s edge had been discovered and Sarah’s family had either sent her away or kept her prisoner in the house.
Jeremiah kept a close watch on Sarah’s house, eager to catch a glimpse of her to relieve his despair. He lived in her memory until he fell into depression when his parents passed away. Sarah’s brothers continued to run their family’s farm with up-to-date machinery.
Jeremiah’s once-thriving one-hundred-acre livestock farm fell into disrepair. Failure to stay current with modern technology and the loss of will to enjoy living sapped his energy and made it impossible to keep up with the competition. No running water or electricity made manual labor exhaustive and time-consuming, which forced Jeremiah to sell his milk-producing animals and egg-laying fowls. He kept a few for his personal use and to supply meat when they were no longer capable of producing milk and eggs.
Jeremiah remained in the tiny two-hundred-year-old farmhouse that his forefathers had built many generations before him. He planted a vegetable garden for sustenance. Chopped wood from the trees on his property fueled heat from the potbelly wood stove in the middle of the one-bedroom dwelling. A rusted kerosene lamp lit the way to the outhouse a hundred yards behind the residence whenever an emergency arose on moonless nights. Buckets lifted water from a shallow well for cooking, drinking, and taking the occasional body wash in the bathroom adjoining the latrine.
With his entire life of routine spent on the farm doing strenuous chores from sunrise until sunset, Jeremiah’s battered seventy-year-old body felt more like ninety years old. Arthritis twisted his joints and forced him to lean forward and walk with a shuffle. On sleepless nights, Jeremiah often lay in bed and stared at the moon outside his bedroom window. He found himself reflecting on his journey through time. Fond memories of falling in love with the girl next door brought joy to his heart but sadness and hopelessness always followed when he thought of what might have been if he had listened to her.
One night during his trip down memory lane, a sound outside his bedroom door caught his attention. He slid off the bed and tiptoed to the door to open it a crack. His mom and dad were hosting a party in the living room. Sarah’s parents and several others were in attendance. Jeremiah felt his stomach tie itself into knots. A tap on his shoulder terrified him. He spun around to find a smiling Sarah behind him. She held a baby in her arm. She stepped up to him for a kiss when he stared through her toward his bed. The moonlight glistened off his pale cheekbones. He lay on his back with his eyes closed. Sarah’s lips on his brought a smile to his resting corpse. He had found peace within himself.
Sarah told him she had become pregnant and her family locked her away in the basement of the house. When all hope of being with him was lost, she refused to eat or drink until she and their baby died of starvation.
“But in death, all is forgiven.” Sarah leaned her head against Jeremiah’s chest with the baby between them. “Uninvited loved ones and others no longer need invitations to mingle. Animosity remains behind in the living world.”
A tear of joy rolled down Jeremiah’s cheek when he hugged his family. The bliss was his to keep for all eternity.
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