Preacher: Part 5

Nine months after the birth of Preacher, it was Jonas?s turn to be awakened by Sue Ann in the middle of a cold night in late January.

?Jonas!? she shook the shoulders of her husband under the heavy comforter. ?Wake up! I think you should go get the Jacobs.?

Jonas had been sleeping lightly for the past week, aware that Sue Ann might be uttering just those words at any time.

?You sure?? he asked, already out of bed and half dressed.

?I think so. Hurry! I?ll get the girls up.?

Jonas lit the lamp in the kitchen before he put on his heavy winter coat, black hat, work shoes, and gloves. He lit another Coleman lamp to take with him and stepped out into the winter night.

Cold, but no wind, he thought. Thank goodness. He ran to the buggy shed, one side of which housed the horses. He and Sue Ann had lived in that half of the shed when they were first married seven years ago. Now they had a real house, and their former living quarters had been turned into three stalls.

The pungent aroma of horses greeted Jonas as he opened the door and hung the lantern from a hook along the wall. Lightning, Patsy, and Preacher were each in their own stall, and they watched with interest as Jonas grabbed a bridle and approached Lightning. ?Hey, big guy, we?re going for a quick ride up to the Jacobs,? Jonas explained, slipping the bit into the large bay gelding?s mouth and the headpiece over his ears. ?Let?s go.?

Jonas turned the knob on the lantern down until the bright white light died, and left it hanging on its hook. He led Lightning out into the night, looped the reins over the horse?s head and shoulders, and vaulted onto his back. Jonas touched his heels to Lightning?s sides, and they were off.

Times like these, it?d sure be nice to have a telephone, not to mention a car, Jonas thought as Lightning galloped the three-fourths mile to the Jacobs. But part of being Amish meant not having those ?worldly conveniences.? They didn?t own them so they wouldn?t be subject to the influences and control that things like phones and televisions could have over their lives. But they could utilize the automobiles and telephones of ?English? people.

Strangely enough, Jonas noted, the pickup he drove to work every day was sitting in their yard. But that was a work vehicle?not to be used for personal trips. Not even for the impending birth of a baby.

Jonas remembered another very cold night, way back when he was 16. New Year?s Eve, it?d been. He?d gone to a party at the home of his boss, Harlan Schmidt. Harlan?s daughter, Debbie, had invited him. In fact, it had been their first date?one that led to a six-month relationship with Debbie, an ?English? girl. Anyway, that night?in a blizzard?his buggy had lost a wheel, and he?d ended up walking in the frigid storm, leading Lightning, hoping he wouldn?t freeze before he found a farm at which to take shelter. That night he?d been scared?scared he would die. Scared God was punishing him for hanging out with the English kids, for getting involved with Debbie. His parents had always insisted that he was meant to stay Amish, and that leaving would be disrespectful to them and against what God intended for him.

Well, he?d lived through that night, and here he was again, out in the cold with Lightning. This time it wasn?t his survival that worried him, but that of his wife and unborn child. His heart suddenly raced with the fear. What if Sue Ann was having trouble? What if the baby?s cord was wrapped around his neck, like had happened to some friends of theirs? What if ? oh God no ? the baby was stillborn? What if the time it was taking to get to the Jacobs and back to Sue Ann was the difference between life and death? What if?? Jonas urged Lightning to go faster, and the cold didn?t seem to matter anymore.

Continued next week.

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