"Could you stop here?" Jocelyn asked as she looked out the car window at an Amish house in Ohio. "I think I remember this place."
"The Kaufmann's house is the next one up. Their neighbors live here."
Jocelyn surveyed the house, stopping to stare at an old-fashioned swing that was in the yard. It seemed for a moment that Jocelyn could remember playing here, in this yard, with many boys and a girl. Friends? Yes, but siblings too.
"Did the Kaufmanns mention any siblings? Besides the sister that died, I mean?"
"Brothers, I think, but it was so long ago, I really can't remember. Do you want to go on now?"
"Jah." Another Dutch word slipped from her lips. In another minute they were in the Kaufmann's private lane. Jocelyn knew this house.
With nervousness and excitement both mounting, Jocelyn stepped out of the car, still wearing the purple Amish dress and white kapp. She trailed the Lakes up the lane, noting two boys, both around her age, coming from the barn rolling large milk cartons in front of them. Both stopped their work to gawk at Jocelyn and the Lakes.
They walked onto the porch, and Mr. Lake knocked on the door of the old farmhouse. A short and plump woman in Plain attire opened the door. Her gaze slid past the two adults to Jocelyn.
"Welkomme." She smiled and motioned them in. "Ezekiel!" She called to one of the boys who were still gawking. "Tell your dat to come quickly." The smaller of the two boys hurried to obey.
They entered the house, and Jocelyn knew immediately that she knew the place. Boots were heard clomping on the porch, and a man with a full, graying, brown, beard entered. He pinned Jocelyn with a look of both great love and intense relief… and suspicion.
"Denki for bringing her here." Mr. Kaufmann addressed Mr. and Mrs. Lake. "You may come again in a week. Gut bye." The couple was quickly shown to the door.
Mr. Kaufmann turned to face Jocelyn. "Do you agree that you are Esther Kaufmann?" He asked.
Jocelyn thought a moment before answering the unexpected question. "I think so."
"Please sit." He motioned to the table with seven chairs surrounding it. "What do you remember?"
"I remember of the buggy accident, when my sister was killed, the Lakes finding me in the street and picking me up. I remember the name of the town. Playing with the strings of someone's kapp. Wearing a dress Mamm made, for the first time. Playing in the neighbors' yard with their children and my siblings. The name Barbara. And some Dutch and German, too. Your name is Barbara, isn't it Mamm?"
The woman nodded.
"Do you remember how many siblings you have?" Mr. Kaufmann asked.
Jocelyn thought carefully for a second. "Six." Before she was asked, she added. "Five brothers and a sister."
"What were their names?"
"I can't remember. I'm sorry."
"Would it help to see them?"
Jocelyn shrugged uncertainly. "Maybe."
Barbara stood in the doorway of the house and called, "Boys!" Five boys soon traipsed into the house.
"Boys," Mr. Kaufmann said. "This is your sister, Esther." The boys were still, lined up in the doorway, and staring with shocked expressions on their faces.
"Now do you know their names?" Mr. Kaufmann asked Jocelyn.
She bit her lip as names began to surface. "Could you line up in age order?" She asked.
The boys shuffled around, changing positions in line.
"The oldest is Elam. Next is Elias. They're twins, aren't they? Both seventeen." The two boys nodded, grinning. "Next is Elijah, sixteen. Then there's Ephraim, fifteen. I'm after him, and Ella was after me. Last is Ezekiel, thirteen." Jocelyn closed her eyes, determined to come up with her father's name. "Dat's name is… Enoch."
"One more thing," Mr. Kaufmann said. "Esther has a scar on her neck. Do you?"
"Jah." Jocelyn ran her hand over the small, nearly invisible scar on her neck, and allowed her father to do the same. Then everyone was still as they awaited Enoch's verdict.
After a long moment, he said, only "Esther has returned."
For a second, Jocelyn stood there, not at all sure of what to do. Then she found herself in Barbara's embrace, and she knew. She knew the feeling of her mother's arms around her. This was home, and these people were her family. She was home.
Her dat gave her a one-armed hug and went outdoors, hiding his tears until he reached his destination.
Her brothers were still looking stunned. Hugs all aside, Esther turned to them. "You thought I was dead, didn't you?"
Elam spoke for them all. "When we found the overturned buggy, you weren't there. We thought you had flown out when it happened, but we couldn't find your body. We always assumed so, but I had always hoped…"
"We all did." Ephraim said.
"I-It's gut t' have ya' back, Essie." Ezekiel said.
"It's gut t' be back…" She looked fondly at her younger brother, wondering how to vanish the apprehension from his voice. "Zeke."
He burst into a smile when she spoke the name that only she had ever used for him. Doing a two-step, he went back outside.
Elias and Elijah, not having anything to say, followed.
"How long are you staying?" Ephraim asked.
"As long as you'll let me, I guess." Esther smiled.
Ephraim grinned and went outside, too.
"I reckon ya' don't remember me too well, do ya', Esther?" Elam asked.
"No specific memories, but you're an extra-special brother, right?"
Elam smiled. "Something like that, jah." He ran a hand down Esther's arm, and paused a moment to squeeze her hand, as if to insure that she wasn't a figment of his imagination, before he headed outside.
He paused with a foot on either side of the threshold. "Ya' want me to show ya' 'round, Esther?"
Esther smiled. "Is it all right with you, Mamm?"
Esther followed Elam outside. She was introduced to the chickens, bull and cows, horses, pig, peacock and peahen, dog, and many barn cats; as well as a pond, and rope swing which hung from the barn rafters.
"We swung from this, didn't we?" She asked Elam.
"Jah, all of us."
"Elam," Esther cocked her head, thinking of a question. "We played at the neighbors' house, didn't we?"
"Jah. The Kings. They have two boys, Isaac and Matthew. We're all in the same church district. You'll meet them after a little while."
"How old are they?"
"Isaac is 17, and Matthew is your age."
Esther nodded, storing the information away.
"Ya' wanna swing?" Elam asked.
Esther grinned. "Jah."
"Come on." Elam nodded to a ladder, and climbed up it, Esther scampering after him.
Esther gripped the rope, and allowed Elam to push her from the loft. She squealed as the wind made the skirt of her dress billow out around her.
A memory from the past surfaced. A young girl, not her, screamed and fell to the ground, having lost her grip on the rope swing, and groaned in pain.
"Did Ella break her arm while swinging here?" Esther quizzed as she fell back onto the sweet-smelling hay.
"Jah. The first time she swung on it. She wouldn't have anything to do with the rope swing after that."
Again the information was tucked away.
After a while, Esther became tired of the swing, and asked her brother if she might go back inside.
"Jah, do that." Her dat said, his head appearing over the loft floor. "Your Bruder has work to do. You'll have plenty o' time to explore later."
"Jah, Dat." Both Esther and Elam hurried down the ladder after Enoch. Esther headed for the house.
Once there she removed her clashing red sneakers. "What do ya' want me t' do with these, Mamm?"
"Put 'em in your bedroom, I suppose."
"I won't be needing them."
"Nee, they don't look right with my dress, besides, they're for Englischers."
Barbara appeared around the doorjamb, smiling. "I never knew someone to change so much in half an hour."
"Before you came inside the house with the Lakes, you were clinging to that car, and dragging your feet looking like you were 'bout to face the gallows. Now you're talking about 'Englischers.'"
"Well, I've had some more memory flashes, and I somehow knew what I knew, yet I don't remember ever coming to Ohio before, so it must be that I had only left, just never came back until today."
"Jah. That's how it was." Barbara looked at her for a long moment, before saying, "Ach, Esther, come here." So Esther returned yet another hug. She heard her mamm whisper against her kapp, "It's so gut to have you home, my Tochter."
And in that instant, Esther knew that was exactly what she was: the Kaufmann's daughter, not Jocelyn Lake. She was Amish and she was home.
I'm sorry that the chapter length was all over the place. Tell me what you thought of it! Please!