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  • Susan Stoderl

Prairie Dust, Chapter 2, Excerpt 3 | A Historical Fiction in Serial Form


Homesteading on the Prairie of Eastern Colorado #historicalfiction, #intrigue, #familysaga

Mrs. James Colsten

Blue Springs, Nebraska

June 3, 1908 


Dear Husband,


I write to you with fear and trepidation as I did long ago when you left for Nebraska leaving me behind with a family I could not abide. History seems to always repeat with you. You pull up stakes and start over again just as life seems settled.


Anger causes me to ponder taking my “egg money” and traveling in the opposite direction. My parents can’t banish me in shame like then. My one living sister would now welcome me.


You perhaps wonder why I would say such. Once again, I am in the same condition as before. God willing, you will see the results of your work by November.


Flora


As this news sunk in, Jim allowed the engine to die. Sinking back against the car’s hard seat, he sighed. Another child was something he had considered long past a possibility. Flora was young enough, but given her disposition, Jim couldn’t see how seed could take hold in such a hostile environment. The challenges of building an empire and many painful miscarriages and stillbirths overshadowed love. Still, they had a grudging respect for each other—no question Flora had added to his empire and standing, and he owed her. 


Jim chuckled out loud. Aubrey’s arrogance will get a good shaking, and no more “baby” Louie. Perhaps another son could be of help with the current circumstances.


He returned to reading.


Since brooding will not undo this, and I am stuck here alone, see that Aubrey behaves himself. I know he’ll be chasing one girl after the other. Please see that both continue with their Bible study. I will not countenance a scandal in our new home. I note no mention of the “new home.”


Jim let his hand fall onto the seat, still holding the letter. 


“Good Lord!” said Jim out loud. “Does this woman have the sight? It’s like she knows what’s going on—Aubrey and the girl—the lack of a proper home…”


Tomorrow, he will have a “chat” with Aubrey. Haunting scenarios of Flora’s potential reactions formed a reel in his mind. Taking a deep breath and forcing them aside, he skimmed the remainder of the letter and saw his opening.


© All rights reserved, Susan Stoderl, 2024



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