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Sweeter Than Elderberry Wine
The Shadows That Haunted Him


On the days when the winter wind tore and screamed about their house. To step out the door was when a person could be at the mercy of its force. It might rip the entry door right out of Zona’s hand with a sudden roughness that was not to be controlled. If she did not have her scarf tied with the most care then it was easily jerked from her head almost as if a small boy had reached up and playfully snapped it away. She necessarily had to carry water into the house and this was when the wind used the bucket like a pendulum, swinging it to and fro, all-the-while, dousing her long skirt. Zona’s balance was harder to maintain, too, because the weight of the baby she was carrying threw her off.

They were determined to live the winter in the confines of their home. John’s family all had spread out over the state and so much sorrow around them worked on his mind. His Dad and Mother passed away. He had a brother shot and killed in Independence, Kansas. Dora, his sister, died in a terrible tragedy and suffered the most severe pain from her injuries before death. Her daughter was only sixteen and died six months later. Lottie, widow of his brother, took their little son to Texas, remarried and left the child to strangers. John walked all the way to the town in Texas and carried the boy back on his shoulders. Why he walked was a questionable thing when they certainly had horses. Maybe the rough country caused him to be cautious about calling attention to himself. All of it was too much for him. On occasion he took off and went to town for a time, away from the shadows that haunted him.

“John, I wish you wouldn’t go into town tonight.” Zona was pleading with him to stay home. “It’s awfully lonely here without you.”

“Jim’s bringing his old lady over here. She is sick and needs some help with her baby. Jim is going with me to town.” John wasn’t backing down on his plans.

“I’ll probably be up all night walking the baby,” Zona wasn’t happy with the arrangement.

As it turned out the baby slept most of the night but Zona still couldn’t rest because the child’s mother was so sick. Sometimes during the night she heard rustling sounds in the tack room. The person never made an attempt to come on in the house so Zona could do nothing but ignore whoever or whatever was out there.

Exhausted and foggy headed she was still up and out of bed early, as usual, and had biscuits in the oven with a pot coffee on top of the stove. John was suddenly standing in the door way. From his looks she knew something was not right.

“Something’s wrong? What is it?" Zona was frightened.


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