Today I'm sharing a portion of my upcoming "Mail Order" bride story, Desperation's Bride. I'm really excited to have a new project and I hope you enjoy today's offering. Remember, this is a first draft and not perfect by any means:
Clara sat at the splintery kitchen table, her bare toes curled against the hard-swept dirt floor while she peeled potatoes for dinner's stew. Two weeks had passed since she’d made an excuse to mail her last response to Jason, and now time spun a web around her, making her anxious. “Ma, have you ever seen the train station in Marysville?”
Her mother looked up from the cupboard where she rolled out dough for a dried apple pie. “Why would you ask such a strange question?”
Continuing with her peeling, Clara calmed her breathing. “Just curious, that’s all. I’ve not been in that part of town since the railroad began operating. I’ve always wanted to take a trip in one of those fancy windowed cars.”
“Don’t see that will ever happen.” Ma floured the dough and rolled it flat with her wooden cylinder. “This is our home and we have no plans to leave.”
“Do you have any idea how far it is to Beatrice, NE?” Clara tried to make her query sound casual.
“Why ever would you ask that? I’m not sure I understand all these questions.”
“I…I saw a flyer in the mercantile the other day and it made me wonder…no particular reason.” The lie tasted bitter on her tongue.
Ma shrugged. “I’ve not traveled except from Independence to here with your father, but I did hear women at Church discussing that the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad now runs from Lincoln to Beatrice. Not sure when that happened.” She plopped her dough into a round tin. “We should be proud to be witness to such advances in travel. I suffered coming here on a wagon train with your Pa, and it was definitely not as comfortable as I imagine a train would be.”
“Oh, tell me about it, Ma, you’ve never shared that story.” Clara put down a potato and her knife and leaned on her palms.
Ma sighed. “It was a long and tiring ride. We had to leave many of our things behind because the oxen couldn’t stand the strain of pulling a big wagon and all the other weight. The days were long, hot, and filled with work from sun-up to sundown.” Her gaze lowered. “A lot of good folks died on that trip in the short distance we came…drownings, illness, even a few run over by their own conveyances.”
“What do you mean by short distance?” Clara cocked her head.
“Your Pa and I joined up in Independence, which is where most wagon trains depart for Oregon and California. In fact, the trail has been named the Oregon Trail for the many people seeking new lives out west.” Her eyes brightened. “Luckily, you’re father had researched Kansas and knew we would pass right through this place. We dropped off here because your father believed the Overland Stage and the Pony express would put Marysville on the map, and they have. I’m just sorry he didn’t live long enough to see and do all he wanted.” She turned her attention back to the pie, placing cross pieces of dough over the dried apples. “Oh well,” she said. “That was another lifetime, and I’m just thankful to have a home and family again.”
Clara stifled an inward gasp. Now was not the time to share her intentions. Ma would be very upset at the prospect of her daughter leaving. The silence begged for words. “I’m glad you made the trip safely, Ma, and I’m certain Pa would be very proud of you today. You’re a strong woman and a good wife. I love you very much.”
I'm making good progress on this one and look forward to announcing a release date soon. Stay tuned...and in the meantime, jump on over to the following blogs and see what's up today: