Fraying at the Edge

Free Fraying at the Edge by Cindy Woodsmall

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Authors: Cindy Woodsmall
girl’s thinking. He went to the cabinet, got a glass, and filled it.
    “Is that what you think?” Lovina’s insides shook.
    She’d asked herself time and again why she hadn’t pushed to learn the truth sooner, why she hadn’t acted on her mother’s intuition. She hadn’t dreamed Skylar would piece together enough to blame them so fully.
    “What should I think?” Skylar asked.
    Isaac downed the glass of water and refilled it. “You should think that mistakes have been made on all sides. But we’re your parents, not the enemy.”
    Skylar slunk back against her chair, looking disinterested in the whole conversation.
    Lovina’s heart ached for her child. Skylar was more than walled off and defiant. She was skilled at debating, and she wasn’t interested in accepting where they were and moving forward but in assigning blame and pushing people away. Lovina was beginning to see why Susie bristled whenever Skylar entered the room. But whatever irked Susie about her new sister, she was keeping it to herself.
    Isaac set a fresh glass of water in front of Lovina.
    “Skylar…” Lovina took a swallow, trying to gain control as she prayed for the right words. She set the glass on the table. “You seem to understand the laws of nature well, and our hope is that you will apply that knowledge toward all sorts of things in your life, including the use of illegal drugs.” Lovina drew a breath. “We don’t want to impose our Amish beliefs on you or use you as free labor. That was never our hope.”
    “Then, do tell, what is it you want?”
    The question stung. Was her only desire to figure them out and be on her way? “To get to know you,” Lovina said. “To assure you that wherever you go in life or whatever you do, we’re here for you. To give you a chance to get to know us and your nine siblings.”
    Skylar still had the same melancholy, apathetic look on her face. But she wasn’t firing back a witticism or an insulting observation, which Lovina took as a small triumph. “How do you feel about our wishes?”
    “I feel that if I refuse, I won’t have a roof over my head by this time next week.”
    Lovina opened her mouth to refute that, but Isaac shook his head. Skylar’s eyes bore into Lovina, making her shudder. They had no idea who this young woman was.

T he aroma of steamy hot water, perfumed soap, and expensive body lotion filled the bathroom as Ariana finished pinning her prayer
in place. She felt as if bees had taken up residence in her chest. Nerves, she imagined. She eased open the door and tiptoed past Cameron’s closed bedroom door, hoping not to disturb the snooty, difficult teen. The whole house had been completely quiet since Ariana awoke an hour ago. What time did the Englisch wake on a Saturday?
    She glanced into the room where she was staying—Skylar’s bedroom at Brandi’s house—making sure it was in good order. Ariana had made the bed and straightened everything, but nothing looked as it should.
    A driver’s license manual with her name scrawled on it sat on a French provincial vanity with three huge mirrors and a marble top covered with silvery containers of makeup, creams, and colognes, along with a jewelry box. A canopy of red lace was attached to four bedposts, a thick satiny bedspread of golds and reds covered the mattress, and a mirror ball hung from the ceiling. Ariana hadn’t even known what a mirror ball was until she arrived. So who decorated a young girl’s room like this?
    Feelings she detested settled over her. When had she become a judgmental biddy? Had it always been there? She grabbed the manual, closed the door, and went downstairs to the kitchen. Her stomach growled, and she looked in the pantry. It had lots of stuff—cold cereal, macaroni and cheese, Hamburger Helper, raw sugar, breakfast bars, protein drinks. She spotted an uncut loaf of french bread and grabbed it. The one thing she knew how to do was to turn limited ingredients into something wholesome and

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