There were a lot of things that could change in a year. Everything from your friends to the way you dress and do your hair. This past year had brought many change, some good, others bad. Sometimes it seemed like the bad outweighed the good. The days had passed on quietly. The snow had fallen and she wondered if they'd make it through the night. When spring came around she wondered if he was proud of the life coming back into the earth. She thought of him often. There were late nights when she'd think to the stories he told her. Of how he held her when she cried. Of how he used to push her dark hair from her face with a gentle smile. Of how he'd kiss her on the forehead.
Keziah missed him but she was not bogged down by his absence. Life still passed on. He was buried under the tree with her mother and lost brother. Edward Black had led a good life, married an equally good woman and started a family. He'd passed just as winter was in full swing. He'd taken ill one night, complaining of being dizzy. She allowed him to sleep through supper, content to hear his loud snores. The next morning when she woke, he was silent. They buried him a day later. The men from Lexington, friend of his, had come and dug his grave. The women tended to his body and helped clean the house and watch the baby as she mourned.
Saying goodbye to her husband was hard. Saying goodbye to her father…now that had been more painful. It occurred to her one night that she was, save for the baby at her hip, largely alone in this world. Her husband was off fighting in a war that he'd been sucked into. Her brother was still missing, and her best friend had died.
Rose Anne had grown beautifully. He had been proud of her. She had taken a shine to him and would often follow him around after she learned how to walk. He took her out to the fields, shown her the deer that hopped the fence to dig through the snow in hopes of finding food. He had told her the same stories he had told his own daughter. The baby didn't understand why he wasn't there anymore, and in time she wouldn't remember him. Keziah would keep his memory alive, telling her the stories he'd once told them.
Edward had been proud of his son-in-law, as he'd told his daughter one night after Rose Anne had gone to sleep. "He's a fine fellow. I am glad that you met him." Edward, like Keziah, had no doubt that he'd keep his promise as best to his ability. In war, nothing was guarantee. No man knew if he was going to make it to see the next sunrise. They had heard bits of what was happening in the war when it would pass through Lexington. Edward would deliver the news to his daughter during dinner.
Today was just another day colored by her mourning. She and Rose Anne were tending to the garden. Well, Keziah was tending to the garden and Rose Anne was digging in the dirt with her chubby little hands. She's grown so big. Briefly, Keziah wondered if William would be excited to see her. The last time he had seen Rose Anne was when she was being bounced on Keziah's hip. "Ama!" The little girl cooed, throwing her hands and some dirt into the air. Keziah smiled towards the little girl, her daughter.
"Good job. Our soil needs a bit of over turning anyways." Things were getting physically harder for her. Had been for the past few months. The men from Lexington, old family friends, had come to help around the farm, sending their sons to aid the woman. Most of everyone knew that she was married, that her husband was off fighting in the war. There were no offers of marriage presented to her, especially since there was no news if her husband had died. Rose Anne squealed and put her hands into the dirt again, giggling wildly as she pulled up an old root. One of the boys from Lexington was there, helping quietly. He was a young thing, only about twelve, but already he was a hard worker.
He was working out in the barn, tending to a few of the cattle, when something caught his eye.
Keziah looked up at the sound of his voice. The boy came racing towards her, wide eyed, and for a minute she thought he had been injured. "Missus Kutcher!" They'd taken to calling her that. It was only right after all, she was a married woman. When he reached her, mindful to not bump into her, he put his hands on his knees and panted, pointing out to the fields where a figure was steadily making their way across it. For a long time she worried that it would be soldiers telling her that her husband had died. There had been some concern when Redcoats had come to Lexington, asking for her husband. None really told them where the farm was, only that he'd passed through Lexington. No doubt the reason lay more with the threats Edward had given before his passing. When the figure came closer, Keziah almost couldn't believe her eyes. William was here, well still in the field and she couldn't jump the fence to reach him. The boy, Gabriel, picked up Rose Anne and followed after Keziah quickly, unable to fathom how a woman in her condition could move that quickly. His own mother had taken to waddling around rather than actually walking.
"William!" She yelled. Now that he was closer she could see the way he walked. Almost instantly she knew he'd been injured. She was a nurse after all. Gabriel and Rose Anne hung back. The boy was acutely aware of how much bigger William was. Would the man think something was going on here? Gabriel was a young boy but his older brothers had spoken of how if Keziah's husband never came back they'd like chance at her. It had disgusted him that they even thought that way. He was still pure, untainted by the views of older men. They wouldn't be thinking that way once they learned her husband was back.
"You're hurt." She frowned.