There are less than two weeks to go until the book signing for our 2016 Book Contest winner by Jean De Vries! To tide you over until December 3, here is a sneak peek at the prologue of Bestow On Us Your Grace. Check back on December 2 for an exclusive look at Chapter One!
Kirsten stood in the doorway of her mother’s room, barely able to make out the shape of her body huddled beneath the blankets. Despite the dark, it was only 6:30 in the evening, the winter sun having gone down an hour ago. Kirsten listened and was relieved to hear only the sound of her mother’s quiet breathing. Last night her mother had woken her with her sobbing, and Kirsten had crawled into her parents’ bed, wrapping her eight–year-old arms around her mother. Suddenly, strangely, their roles had been reversed.
She turned from the door and went to the dark living room, picking up an overdue library book and flicking on the lamp beside the couch. She grabbed a box of cereal out of the cupboard and sat down, crunching through the Fruit Loops as she slowly turned the illustrated pages. Turning on the television was out of the question. Nothing was worth waking her mother. Even worse was the pain of watching commercials and sitcoms full of happy children with their fathers.
A strange clattering outside brought Kirsten to the living room window. No headlights or sound of an engine. Only the black form of a horse shifting slightly, a shadowy buggy behind it. The doorbell’s piercing chime startled her, even though she was expecting it. Ever since that police officer rang the doorbell just days ago, the sound had become an ominous source of fear. Kirsten’s mother shuffled around the corner and turned robotically to the door, her face void of expression. It was either all emotion or none the past few days.
“Hello, Mary.” Her mom’s voice sounded hollow and wooden as she stood in the doorway, one hand still clutching the doorknob for support. Kirsten silently stepped beside her and wrapped her arm around her mother’s leg, staring wide-eyed at a woman in a long dress who was standing on their front step holding a covered basket.
“Elizabeth,” the bonnet-headed woman said, blinking slowly. “We are so very sorry for yer loss.”
Her mother nodded. Why was she nodding? Daddy wasn’t lost. Kirsten knew precisely where he was. In a hole in the ground at the cemetery in town.
Kirsten’s mother accepted the basket from the woman. She’d seen others dressed like her before, of course. They lived all around. In fact, it was Kirsten and her family who were the oddity in this particular area of the county.
The woman turned to look for a long moment at Kirsten, who stared back up at her. Kirsten saw there the same expression all the grown-ups gave her lately. No one smiled at her anymore.
“May you find comfort and strength in the Lord,” the woman said, turning her attention slowly back to Kirsten’s mother.
“Thank you,” Elizabeth mumbled. Kirsten could feel her mother’s leg tremble and gripped tighter. Slowly, Elizabeth shut the door and turned to stumble back toward her room, pulling away from Kirsten’s grasp. She carelessly dropped the basket in the middle of the living room floor. Kirsten went to watch out the window as the woman climbed back into the buggy. The horse started forward in a slow circle and left the yard.
“Mom?” she said, turning to see that Elizabeth had nearly reached the doorway to her room. “Why don’t they drive a car?”
Her mother stopped and spoke over her shoulder. “They don’t have one.”