Then Sings My Soul

Then Sings My Soul by Amy K. Sorrells Read Free Book Online

Book: Then Sings My Soul by Amy K. Sorrells Read Free Book Online
Authors: Amy K. Sorrells
Tags: Genocide, Ukraine, Dementia, Gerontology, Social Justice, Ageism
everywhere—even in their own bedrooms.
    On sunny days, streets were filled with children, boys dressed like sailors or Little Lord Fauntleroy in knee pants and knickers and hats with streamers, and girls in white dresses with eyelet and organdy, pin tucks and lace, pinnies, hair bows bigger than their heads, and shoes always shining, always neat and new.
    The Stewarts provided Jakob and Peter with nannies to clean and dress them, and tutors who quickly taught them English. Jakob discovered books—free books!—from the library, along with boxes full of books bought new just for them.
    One night after the boys had been there for several weeks, they sat down to dinner with the Stewarts. Candlelight flickered from chandelier candles and illuminated the room, which was dressed in the finest wallpaper available. The beef roast, carrots, and potatoes were cooked to perfection, and plenty of other sides and bread filled the center of the table. For the first time since their arrival in America, Jakob spoke.
    â€œPlease pass the potatoes.”
    Mama Stewart gasped into a napkin she held to her lips.
    After an uncomfortable silence, Papa Stewart grinned. “Well, Peter, pass your brother the potatoes.”
    â€œYes, sir,” Peter said, grinning too.
    Unbeknownst to them, Jakob had been practicing, whispering English words under the bedcovers after the lights were turned down in the evenings.
    Mama Stewart came around the table, the royal-blue taffeta of her dress rustling like a flock of doves. She knelt next to Jakob, who despite his newfound voice maintained the constancy of his stoic and somber expression. Harriet held his face in her hands as she had on the steps in New York City. Tears fell from her eyes. “Praise God! He has heard my prayers. He will redeem the years the locusts have eaten, dear Jakob. He is redeeming them even now.”
    â€œYes, Mama Stewart.” Jakob allowed her to hold him, unwilling to squelch her joy. It was not her affection he shrank from, after all. It was that she gave credit to God, whom he knew had nothing to do with his newfound voice. Jakob had merely listened to his tutors and practiced.
    * He does not speak.

1994
    South Haven, Michigan

CHAPTER 5
    The back of Catherine and Jakob Stewart’s home faced Lake Michigan, and Nel stood on the back deck soaking in the mid-afternoon sun. After the stale air of the plane ride and the emotion of the last couple of days, she looked forward to the sunset that evening, which was sure to calm her nerves. She’d learned to love Santa Fe sunsets, too, the jutting, rolling angles of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains browning, then blushing pink before the sun fell behind them, followed by a blazing display of fire-orange against the advancing cobalt sky. And yet as beautiful as those sunsets were, Nel never felt they compared to the gentle eventides on Lake Michigan, breezes rustling through branches of white oaks and black oaks, hickories and sugar maples, and the occasional beech. All the trees around the house that had seemed so small in her youth stretched tall and arched over her as if welcoming her home. Her favorite was the oak growing right outside her old bedroom, where she’d sat for hours on the window seat, curled in her pajamas as she watched the birds flit back and forth, bringing sticks and stiff pieces of dead beach grasses, kite strings, and hair ribbons and weaving nests in the crooks of the branches. Eggs had appeared almost magically, and then even more magically, baby birds from within them. She remembered the patchy spots of fuzz on their translucent skin, their shaking, open mouths stretched wide, their papery-thin gullets straining toward the sky, and their mother’s return with food.
    Well after Nel moved to Santa Fe, Catherine had gone back to school and achieved a Master Gardener certificate. The combination of all the species of trees on the Stewarts’ property demonstrated her gift for

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