It was late when I got back to our room from the Literary Ladies Society meeting, and Hailey had already fallen asleep. I tiptoed into the room so I wouldn't wake her.
I sighed as I removed my feathered headband. I wasn't sure what to think about the meeting. Emma and I had enjoyed a simply thrilling discussion about different Jane Austen film adaptations, but I was worried that we'd overdone it a bit. Several times I'd caught glimpses of rather blank expressions on Jenna and Hayden's faces. I had to remember that this was a Literary Ladies Society, not a Jane Austen Society, and that not all of our members were as in love with Austen's work as Emma and I.
I was amazed that I'd been able to speak at all. When Jenna had asked me to come up, I'd literally felt sick to my stomach. My mouth was so dry I might as well have been made of sawdust instead of vinyl. I couldn't look at anyone without feeling like I might faint, so I chose a spot on the floor and stared at it while I struggled to find words of introduction.
Before long, however, the words had come. As I spoke about the characters as dear to me as my own friends, it was as if the whole world melted away. I was Lizzy Bennet, sharing about my life...and why I preferred Colin Firth to Matthew Macfadyen (no offense, Mr. Macfadyen...I adored you on "Little Dorrit"). When Emma joined the conversation, I was elated. We always love discussing Jane Austen together.
As we spoke, the haze suddenly seemed to clear, and I was merely Tess the doll once more...and Hayden and Jenna were on the verge of either sheer boredom or a long nap. I've never been more embarrassed in my entire life. The last thing I wanted was to drone on and on and bore my audience. This is why I wanted to be a writer, not a public speaker. As I said my goodbyes and headed down to my room, my plastic heart sank. What if my writing was just as bad? Would I bore my readers to tears as well? Perhaps my blogging is not all that interesting. You would tell me if it was horrid, wouldn't you, my dearest readers? If I have no future in writing, it would be much better to know it now than after years of toiling over stories that no one will care about. :(
With these thoughts weighing heavily on my mind, I opened the top drawer of my curio cabinet to put away my headband. Then I stopped in my tracks. How had the picture gotten there? Hailey must have thought this was where it belonged.
I put my headband away, picked up the framed picture almost reverently, and slowly took a seat on the bed, being careful not to wake Hailey. Pemberley purred behind me, but I didn't respond to my kitty. I simply stared at the portrait.
It seemed so long ago. In some ways, it had been a lifetime. A little over two years, to be exact. Two years since my baby sister left us. I fingered the picture gently. There were times when I missed Ella so much that I physically ached. I knew that she had chosen to leave and that we were fortunate to hear from her sporadically via email, but it didn't take away the pain of losing her. I always felt as if a piece of me was missing. And every day, I vowed that someday, somehow, I would try to bring the three of us together again. I wasn't exactly sure what I could do, but I had to try.
Until that day, I'd have to keep going and bury my loss. I knew Mama had said that I could talk to God about how I felt. Sometimes He just felt so far away.
"Dear Father," I whispered slowly, "Mama says we can talk to you about anything." I hesitated. "I really miss my sister, Lord. I miss her more than I can say..." I had to stop to get my tears under control. "If there's any way you could help me get her back, I would be forever grateful." I stroked the picture frame lovingly. "Mama says that sometimes You don't have the same plan that we do and I have to trust that You know what's best." I wiped my eyes and glanced over at Hailey to make sure I hadn't woken her. "It won't be easy, but I'll try my best to be content no matter what happens. Thank you, Lord...Amen."
A tear slipped down my cheek and landed on the glass of the picture frame. I carefully wiped it away with the hem of my gown and then put the picture back in the drawer. I didn't know what would happen in the future, but it helped knowing that God did.
Meanwhile, I'd have to try to be content, making the most of each day, and pray that one day the missing piece of our lives would be restored.