General Fiction posted November 27, 2016 Chapters:  ...33 34 -35- 36... 

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Patrick Sees Sylvia

A chapter in the book In The Cellar

She's Back

by MelB

Sylvia has been home from school for a week due to illness. In reality, she has been healing from her wounds inflicted by her father. Patrick has been grief-stricken that something bad happened.
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Later that night, Patrick tossed and turned in bed.  He finally rolled over on his back and stared up at the ceiling.  He sighed.  His thoughts were fixated on Sylvia.  Why did I have to hurt my ankle? What’s wrong with Sylvia?  Will she be okay?  Did Miss Kimball even see her?  Ugh, I can’t take not knowing!
Patrick finally lit the lamp, sat up, and started reading.  He kept reading the same paragraph over and over, as he couldn’t focus on the words let alone comprehend them.  Finally, he gave up and tossed the book across the floor.  “Ugh.” Patrick heard his mother’s footsteps coming down the hall and a quiet knock on his door.  She opened the door, stepped in, and closed it.  “Is your ankle hurting you?”

“No, Ma.”

“Can’t sleep?”


“Thinking about Sylvia?”

“Yes.  I’m worried about her, Ma.”


                                                                               CHAPTER 35:  SHE’S BACK

Sylvia had to stay home from school for the rest of the week, until the bruise on her face healed.  Bernhard wasn’t going to take any chances.  Miss Kimball stopped by again on Thursday, with more homework, as she wanted to make sure Sylvia hadn’t taken a turn for the worse.  She also didn’t want Sylvia to fall too far behind in class.  Bernhard anticipated another visit from the teacher and made sure to keep his daughter inside after school hours.  He informed her Sylvia was better and would be back at school on Monday.  It was difficult to stay in the house when the teacher’s horse and buggy appeared, but Sylvia knew full well the consequences if she dared to defy her father again.  She watched out the window while the short exchange took place between Miss Kimball and Bernhard.  Sylvia longed to go back to school, as it was the only place she felt safe.  That is, until she fell in love with Patrick Ryan. 

After Miss Kimball left, Sylvia walked outside to do her chores, and then went back into the house to cook supper.  After clean-up of the dishes, she retired to her room and sat on the edge of the bed.  Her thoughts wandered to Patrick and she couldn’t wait to see him on Sunday at church, even though they wouldn’t be able to speak to each other.  Sylvia sighed and started on her homework.  She was thankful Miss Kimball had dropped more off because she had been advancing ahead in her reader to avoid sheer boredom.

On Friday and Saturday, Sylvia paid extra attention to make sure she didn’t step out of line with her father in any way.  She baked apple pies on Friday and served a vegetable stew with fresh baked bread on Saturday.  No chances could be taken of getting thrown back in the cellar or missing church on Sunday.    
Patrick’s ankle was still sore and somewhat swollen, but he had gone back to school after a few days at home.  Every day, he waited outside hoping Sylvia would come walking down the path toward school.  Timmy was happy about Sylvia’s absence.  He had convinced Patrick to shoot marbles again before and after school.  He also didn’t have to share Patrick with his girlfriend.  For Timmy, it was just like old times again. 

During class, Patrick stared at her vacant seat.  He couldn’t help wonder if she was sick or if her crazy father had done her harm.  After all, he had seen the wrath of Bernhard White firsthand.  What if he never saw her again?  Miss Kimball had only seen the back side of Sylvia.  She hadn’t seen her face or spoken to her.

Miss Kimball said, “Patrick?”

He startled and snapped out of his thoughts.  “Uh … yeah … um … sorry.”  He shook his head.

“Do you know the answer?”

“Sorry, Miss Kimball.  What?”

“To the question.”

“I’m sorry, which question?”

“Question number two on the front board.”

He scanned the question.  “No, Ma’am.”

Abigail’s hand shot up like a blast from a cannon.  “I know.”

“Sam, do you know the answer to question two?”

“No, Ma’am.”

Miss Kimball scanned the room and asked, “Does anyone know the answer to question two?”  No other hands were raised, and when she looked back at Abigail, her arm proudly waved in the air like a flag.  Miss Kimball frowned.  “Yes, Abigail.”  After a long, two-minute explanation, Abigail finally stopped talking. 

“That’s correct.”

“My mother says I’m the smartest in the class.”

Miss Kimball sighed.  “Thank you, Abigail.  Class, it’s time for lunch.  Patrick, I would like to speak with you for a moment.”       

Miss Kimball walked to the back door and waited until the last child exited.  She approached Patrick and sat down on the seat across from him.  “How’s the ankle?”

“Still sore, but getting better every day.”

“I’m glad to hear it.  Listen, I know you’ve been through a tough time lately.  I also know you are worried about Sylvia, but you need to focus in class.”

“I’m sorry, but I just can’t focus.  What if she’s getting worse?”

“Let’s just try and believe the best.”


“And in the meantime, please try and focus.”

“Yes, Ma’am.” 

Miss Kimball stood, put her hand on his shoulder and smiled.  “Her father said she will be back on Monday.”  He nodded.  She continued to the doorway to check on the students.     

The rest of the day was uneventful.  Patrick shot marbles with Timmy after school and then walked home.  He did his best to keep busy until Sunday, but it was hard to keep his thoughts off Sylvia.  His heart ached and he felt like he had joined Sylvia’s father in the certifiable department. 


The Ryan family was halfway to church on Sunday, when they hit a huge rut in the road, causing the wagon to lean to the right.  John stopped the horses and wagon.  “Whhhoooaaa there … whoa.”

Mary asked, “What is it, John?”

“I think we might have a broken axle, but I need to check.” He stepped down from the wagon, checked the driver’s side first, and then walked around to Mary’s side.  He bent down, scratched his head, and then stood.  He looked at Mary and nodded.  “It’s a broken axle alright.  Why don’t you and the kids head to church and I’ll go back and fix it.”  He smiled.  “If Reverend Brooks is still long-winded enough, I should be done and back in time to catch some of it.”

Mary giggled and shook her head.  “John Ryan, you’re incorrigible.”

He smirked.  “I know, but you love me anyway.”

Mary’s smile broadened.  “Yes, I suppose I do.”  She turned toward the children.  “Come on kids, we’re on foot from here.”

As Mary and the children approached the church, Patrick could feel his senses heighten and it felt like fireflies danced in his stomach.  He scanned the horses and wagons, until he found what he wanted.  Mr. White’s wagon was parked in its usual spot to the left of the church.  Now, the question playing in his mind was whether or not he had brought Sylvia with him. 

Reverend Brooks wasn’t outside the door to greet the congregation, which meant service was just about to begin.  Mary, Patrick, and the twins climbed the stairs and entered the building.  They stopped while Mary looked for open seating, and Patrick searched for Bernhard White.  Just as he spotted him, his mother had found some seats and was on her way to them.  Once seated, Patrick held his breath and scanned the crowd again.  When he found Bernhard for the second time, his heart skipped a beat.  Seated to the right of him was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen … his Sylvia.

Instinctively, she must have known his eyes were glued to her, as she turned in his direction and their eyes met.   She smiled and relief washed over Patrick.  He desperately wanted to speak to her and find out what happened.  He had so many questions.  Where was she when he went to her house?  Why couldn’t he find her anywhere?  What illness did she have?  Did she even have an illness or did her Pa do something to her?  He knew she wouldn’t or couldn’t talk here, but he couldn’t help himself.  He turned and looked her direction again.  After a minute or so, she glanced at him again.  He motioned toward the back door.  She grimaced and shook her head.  

Patrick knew there was no way Bernhard White would allow him to talk to Sylvia after church.  He knew he couldn’t risk going to her house either.  His ankle wasn’t completely back to normal yet, and he couldn’t risk becoming target practice for Bernhard and his rifle again.  He would have to wait till tomorrow.  This was driving him stark raving mad!  He didn’t know if he could stand to wait one more day.  What if something happened to her tonight and she didn’t come to school tomorrow.  One thing was for sure--he couldn’t take this much longer. 


Sylvia was nervous with anticipation all morning before church.  She was dressed and ready to go before Bernhard.  He might get suspicious or worse yet, decide not to go, so she stayed in her room until he called and said it was time to go.  The temptation to run out of the house was great, but she restrained herself and walked.  After she climbed in the wagon, Bernhard tapped the horses with the reins and they were on their way.  The closer they got to the church, the more nervous Sylvia became.  Her heart raced and her palms were clammy. 

When they neared the church, her heart sank and she nearly gasped.  Her eyebrows furrowed, as she scanned the horses and wagons.  Oh no!  Where are they?  How can they not be here? If she didn’t get to see Patrick today, it would be agonizing.  Maybe, they are on their way.  Oh, please Patrick … please be on your way.  I miss you.  I need to see you.  Bernard helped Sylvia down from the wagon.  She turned to see Miss Kimball’s horse and buggy pull up next to them.

“Mr. White.”  Miss Kimball said.  Bernhard scowled and nodded.  “Sylvia, it’s so good to see you!” 

“Hi, Miss Kimball."  Sylvia replied.  "It’s good to see you, too.”

“How are you feeling, dear?”

Sylvia glanced at Bernhard, and then looked down at the ground.  “Um … much better.  Thank you.”

“So glad to hear it.”

“Thank you for dropping off my homework.”

“You’re welcome.  I didn’t want to see you get so far behind in your studies.”       

“Thank you, Ma’am.  I appreciate it.”

“Well, I look forward to seeing you back at school tomorrow.  I’ll see you then.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

She climbed out of the buggy, and then nodded.  “Good day, Mr. White.”

He nodded.  “Mizkimbl.”


They walked up the steps, greeted the Reverend, and were seated.  Sylvia glanced back at the door twice, but she had to stay collected, so as not to anger the beast.  A few minutes into the service, she had a premonition someone had eyes locked in her direction.  She only hoped it was the one she loved.  As she turned and their eyes met, it sent shockwaves through her body.  When he motioned to meet outside, it took everything she had to not run out the door, fall in his arms, and beg him to take her away … far away from her father. 




Sylvia White – A 15-year-old girl, who lives alone with her father, Bernhard. Daughter of Sophia White, deceased.
Bernhard White - Sylvia's 50-year-old father.  A man of few words and doesn't always speak in complete sentences.
Sophia White - Sylvia's mother.  Died in childbirth.
Patrick Ryan - A 16-year-old boy, Sylvia's boyfriend.
Mary Ryan - Patrick's mom, in her 40's.

John Ryan – Patrick’s father, late 40’s.
Sadie and Sarah Ryan – Patrick’s younger twin sisters, age 5.
Johnny Prescott - A 16-year-old boy, classmate of Patrick's.
Timmy Logan - Patrick's friend and classmate.
William Stoope - Town banker and owner of Stoope's Mercantile. Married to Elizah Stoope and father of Abigail Stoope.
Eliza Stoope - Runs Stoope's Mercantile. Married to William Stoope and Abigail’s mother.
Abigail Stoope -  A 15-year-old girl. Daughter of William and Elizah Stoope.
Emma Kimball - Teacher at the schoolhouse, in her 20's.
Susie Evans - A 12-year-old girl. Helps the teacher after school.

Bartholomew Brooks – the Reverend at church.


Book of the Month contest entry

Sorry, it's been awhile since I posted the story. My schedule was crazy and then I lost momentum. This was a difficult chapter to write to transition back into it.

Since the Reverend makes another appearance, I have decided to give him a name.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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