Rachel looked up. Jenny stood in the doorway of her room looking at the half-packed suitcase on the bed. Rachel saw the look on her mama’s face, but she steeled herself against it and continued packing.
“But where will you go, Rachel? How will you live?”
“Aren’t you forgetting, Mama, that I am about to become a billionaire? The St. Clairs have already rented me an apartment in New York, and I’ll live there until Gerald and I are…”
Rachel saw the pain on her mama’s face.
“Please, Rachel, you must not do this thing. You do not even know this man. How can you even consider marriage? What about courtship? What about getting to know each other first?”
“Gerald is handsome, he is attentive and I believe he has come to care for me. As of now we have a business arrangement, but who knows… I may come to love him. That would be an added bonus.”
“He only cares about the money, Rachel!!”
“Gerald thinks I’m beautiful and he told me that he feels more for me than just friendship, but that is beside the point, Mama. He is my ticket out of this place. I want to go to school to become a veterinarian. Gerald has no problem with that. The money I will inherit will pay for the best schools in the world. I have already looked into the Royal Veterinary College in London. The St. Clairs have a house there and we could live there while I attend.”
“But I thought you wanted to go to Cornell?”
“What does that matter to you, Mama? Papa wouldn’t let me go or pay my way anyway. He could, you know. He made a lot of money when he was Richard Sandbridge.”
Jenny looked away.
“Rachel, your papa gave most of that money away when he came back to the church. He wanted to disconnect himself from everything that happened to him in those eight years he was gone.”
Rachel turned back to her packing.
“Another brilliant decision by Jonathan Hershberger aka Richard Sandbridge.”
“Rachel, why do you hate him so?”
Rachel felt her hands clenching as she stood with her back to her mama. Then the frustration of the last four years spilled out.
“What do you expect, Mama? When he left us it nearly killed me…”
“He did not leave us, Rachel. He couldn’t help what happened.”
“Mama, let me finish.”
Jenny stopped and Rachel went on.
“When he left us, everything changed. We went back to Ohio and you were so sad for so long. Everything was about you, your sorrow, your grief. What about my grief? At least I had I grossdaadi and grossmutter, and I was okay for a while. Then they died and I was so afraid.”
“Yes, Mama. I was afraid – afraid you would leave me too. I used to wake up at night feeling like someone was standing on my chest. I just knew something was going to happen to you too. And then he came home and it did happen.”
“What happened, Rachel?”
“You left me, Mama.”
“But how, Rachel? I was right here all the time.”
Rachel’s voice rose.
“No, Mama, you were not. Suddenly we had a stranger in our house and everything was about him. Poor Jonathan, he’s not well. Poor Jonathan, he shouldn’t be disturbed. You never had time for me anymore and I hated that.”
As she spoke Rachel stepped closer to her mama until she was standing in front of Jenny, shaking like a leaf.
“You left me, Mama! You may have been here physically, but you were gone. Gone taking care of a poor fool who couldn’t even remember his name most of the time. He certainly didn’t remember me. And all he could do was shove rules down my throat. The ordnung this, the ordnung that. I got to the point where I hated that word.”
Rachel took her mother by the arms and looked right into her eyes.
“Don’t you understand, Mama? I hate being Amish. And now God has opened a door for me to leave. And I’m going.”
Rachel went to the closet and pulled down some more things.
“Rachel, I don’t believe it is God who has opened this door.”
“Who is it then, the devil?”
“If you consider the people you will be with, the man you are marrying…”
Rachel flung the clothes on the bed.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about! You haven’t even taken the time to meet them, to talk to them.”
“But they are Englisch, Rachel.”
Rachel pointed her finger at Jenny.
“And so are you, Mama, so are you. You’re a St. Clair too, and if you will be honest, you will see that the St. Clair side of you has always fought against being Amish.”
“No, Rachel, you are wrong. I have always loved being Amish.”
“Right, Mama. That’s why you write books, and get your column published in the paper and meet people from outside the church, while everyone looks the other way. Everyone says that an Amish girl can’t become a vet. Well, what about an Amish girl who becomes a famous writer? The truth is that writing is the way you escape from everything Amish. Where do you go when you lock yourself in your room and write? You go away, Mama, you go away. For you to oppose me is so hypocritical. I expected better of you! ”
©2014 Many Sorrows from The Amish Heiress by Patrick E. Craig