A Shunned Amish Woman (Anthology)By: Erica Fanning
The warm, sunny day belied the darkness that Anna felt as she packed her things quietly. Since her little Bella was down for a nap, she knew this was the only good time to prepare for the inevitable. Anna loved her little community and everything about it… maybe that’s why she was in so much trouble. She didn’t know what she would do or where she would go, but she knew she needed to get as far away from there as possible.
As she began packing her little girl’s things, Anna’s mind began to wander back to the meeting she had had earlier that morning. She remembered the look in her bishop’s eyes and the way he looked at her as if she was diseased. Maybe she was diseased, she thought.
“Anna,” the bishop began. “Do you know why we’ve called you here so early?”
She had nodded, knowing full well this day was bound to come.
“We are reviewing your situation and deciding what the best course of action should be, but Anna, you need to know, this is not in your favor.”
Fresh tears stung Anna’s eyes as they had done in that initial moment. It didn’t seem fair that she needed to be punished twice, but she decided she was going to pick her second punishment… because she had no idea how horrible the first punishment would be.
It was almost time for Bella to get up from her nap and Anna had finally finished packing. She picked her sweet daughter up from her bed and wrapped her so she would be easier to carry. She didn’t know how far she would have to walk before someone might give her a ride, but she needed to be ready to walk as far as possible. Since her start on the day was so late, she feared she might not get much farther than a few miles, but she was determined.
Anna began her trek quickly and quietly with little Bella wrapped around her front and the few belongings they needed on her back. She didn’t want a lot of people seeing them because she didn’t know what they would say. Or worse, she knew exactly what they would say. Anna remembered all too painfully that this was a small community. Word travelled fast, and sometimes that was to the community’s disadvantage. She thought back to the first time someone brought up her wrongdoing without realizing it; it was Martha from the goods store down the street.
“Hello, dear!” Martha had begun her conversation as if she thought Anna was someone else. Since the woman appeared older than 50, Anna figured maybe she would get away with someone not knowing… until she finished her thought. “Did you hear about what that young woman did? It’s such a shame.” By the time Martha realized who she was talking to, the damage had already been done.
Anna had known then that staying in the community was a bad idea. But it was all she had ever known. She didn’t know what she was going to do or where she would go. She didn’t know how she was going to provide for Bella or where she would grow up. How would she get an education? Did Anna have enough knowledge to be able to teach her?
Anna didn’t know the answers to any of these questions, but she silently prayed that something would be provided… and soon.
Anna was about a mile from the community before she started to breathe a bit easier. At this point, she knew that if someone had spotted her, they decided to let her continue on.
Maybe they really didn’t want me there, the first real doubt popped in her head. She shouldn’t have been surprised by it, but something about the way it was worded in her mind caused it to take root in her heart. I’m not wanted.
Suddenly everything she was carrying, including Bella became very heavy. She couldn’t breathe as she began to sob. She wanted to run and scream and yell, but all she could do was cry and put one foot in front of the other. She didn’t even think she would be able to safely stop unless she suddenly dropped everything she held.
That would be a fitting end to this day, she thought. I dropped everything in my life because of one mistake. What would it be to just let one more thing go?
Just then, her baby cried. She looked down at Bella, who had puckered her bottom lip as tears began to form. Anna decided she must be hungry, so she safely pulled a premade bottle of milk out of the bag without removing it and handed it to the girl, who quickly grabbed it and began gulping down as quickly as she could.