Before The Storm

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1859 “Zeke?” Nineteen-year-old Alice Crane picked up her lavender skirt and hopped over a fallen log. “Zeke, are you here?”

Maybe old man Tucker didn’t let him go this time, she thought. She sighed and brushed back her honey blonde hair from her face, her emerald green eyes searching the tree-filled area around her.

A handsome face suddenly appeared in front of her, upside-down. She jumped back. “Ezekiel Matthews!” She said as her best friend laughed and swung out of the tree. “Don’t scare me like that!”

He gave her a sheepish, apologetic smile that reached his blue-gray eyes. “Sorry,” he said as he brushed off pine needles that had fallen onto his brown hair and clothes.

She tried to glare at him but a smile broke through instead. “What was it you wanted me to see?”

He did an elaborate bow and held out his arm. “Allow me to escort you, madam,” he said. She giggled, took the offered arm, and he led her on a well-worn path to a large, beautiful, spacious clearing.

She furrowed her brow. “A field?”

Ezekiel swept an arm out. “This is the land I want to buy, and it’s here I want to build a house.”

“For a family?” She asked slowly.

He nodded, grinning. Alice thought her heart skipped a beat. “And-” Her voice came out high-pitched and she cleared her throat. “And do you…have a young lady in mind to marry?”

Another nod. She turned from him to look over the area, absentmindedly picking a lilac bunch from its’ tree. “Well, she’s a very lucky young lady.”

“Yes, you are.”

She turned back to him. ‘”I-what?”

“Alice Smith, I love you,” Ezekiel blurted out. “I have for a few years now and…and I’ve already talked to your father. You know what he said? He said it’s about time.”

Alice was positive she heard a chorus in her head. “Zeke, are you asking me to marry you?”

“Yes,” he said. Taking a step closer, he added, “Alice, will you?”

“Yes!” She shouted as she jumped up and threw her arms around his neck. With a loud, joyous laugh, he picked her up by the waist and spun her around.

When her feet touched land again, he reached into his coat pocket and took out an oval-shaped locket, holding it out towards her.

“Oh, Zeke, it’s beautiful,” she said, taking the pendant in her hands.

“May I?” he asked.

She nodded, turning around and moving her wavy hair out of the way so he could place it around her neck. Afterward, with his arm around her waist, they looked out over the parcel of land.

After a few minutes had passed, she frowned. “Wait, but we’re in no position to get married now,” she said. “You still have to buy the land and build the house.”

“I know. He let out a sigh and she felt his shoulder sag. “Maybe I should’ve held off on proposing for a little while longer.”

“If you had waited, Tabitha Peters might have somehow tricked you into marrying her,” Alice said. “That would have been a disaster.”

Ezekiel’s brief look of panic sent her into a fit of laughter.

“She would be an awful wife for you,” Alice said after calming down. She leaned her head against his upper arm, a blissful smile spreading across her face. “When do you suppose the house will be ready for us?”

Ezekiel thought for a moment. “Maybe next summer?”

“Perfect,” she replied. “That’s when the lilacs will start to bloom.”

Aw, sweeties…also, I am literally unable to read the name Ezekiel and NOT think of that song…

©H.S. Kylian (Hannah Killian) 2019

This post was last updated on October 15, 2022

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