Then war came, that terrible conflict between North and South. Elwood and I were young, and the fighting scarcely touched our community until the battle at New Madrid.
Suddenly, Elwood and his comrades, patriots all, went off to do battle, and in no time at all they came home—in the back of a wagon. The whole town gathered to see them off, this time to heaven. My name, Abby Ferguson, would never blend with Elwood’s now, and nothing would ever be the same.
Though Mama’s hollyhocks and the bittersweet over the back gate remained, the world turned dull for me. The cardinal called outside my window before dawn every morning, the sunset brought glorious tones, and work at Papa’s store continued, but with no meaning.
I used to ask Union soldiers passing through, “What of your adventures? Have you traveled in the wild territories west of here?
But with Elwood’s passing, all of my interest ceased. Even my passion for sketching disappeared. Elwood and I had such plans, you see. After we made our marriage vows in our little church, we would hitch up a wagon and head west.
We had heard the call echoing through this great land and had determined to set our course. Westward Ho!
Now, all those dreams were buried with Elwood under granite stone. What difference did my frivolous sketches make? What difference did anything make? How the days passed, I could not say, but they did, one after another.
I thought losing my beloved the very worst experience I would ever endure. But then one summer evening, Papa and Mama perished, too, as they worked late at the store.
Many weeks have passed. Still, I think Mama will sweep through the dining room to offer an herbal remedy to a hurting soul, or Papa might cross the threshold.
The devastating fire that took their lives perplexes our Marshall. How could this tragedy have happened? With both a back door and the front entrance, what had prevented two able adults from escaping on that fateful night?
The Marshall’s questions trouble me greatly. Did Papa have an enemy? There was no finer man in our town. An enemy? Unthinkable. And Mama…tears start again as I recollect upon her loving ways. At every turn, she reached out to the needy.
A melancholy mourning dove heralds the close of day and I ponder what lies ahead for me. I can scarcely bear the looks of pity from our townspeople, and must borrow Aunt Susan’s faith, for my own lies as shattered as my family.
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Perhaps that’s the answer. One day, one moment at a time, they endured.
Second-hand Sunsets tells the story of a young woman who thought God had forgotten her and that her life was over. But despite her horrific trials, little reminders of grace find her in the untamed wilds of Arizona Territory. With time, she discovers that second-hand sunsets can offer beauty, too.
This novel will release sometime before Christmas. Please subscribe to my blog and watch for a notice of its release. Since the cover is not yet available, I’m sharing a photo of a gorgeous Arizona sunset, thanks to Horizon Worden and Lisa Delight.
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My Story Title: Second Hand Sunsets
My Story Genre: Western Historical
My Story Releases: Near Christmas 2020
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Gail Kittleson lives with her husband Lance in northern Iowa. A history buff long before they met, he shares her love for research. About ten years ago, the World War II bug big Gail, and she’s thoroughly addicted to the era. Her Women of the Heartland series and other stand-alone novels reveal make-do heroines who face great odds to make a contribution to the war effort.
In winter, Gail writes from Arizona's Mogollon Rim Country. Learning more about this rugged, beautiful land led to a developing story, and over a decade, she has gleaned new understanding of life under the Rim during the Civil War era. If someone had something to hide, this remote area would be perfect, and the word deceptive describes the antagonist in Second-Hand Sunsets to a T.