Updated: Dec 24, 2022
Penny's Pursuit (A Starry Night Novella) by Karen Baney
Near Prescott, Arizona Territory
February 14, 1893
“Dory, I don’t feel up to it,” I said as I rolled over to face the wall.
Dory placed both hands on my shoulder and rocked me back and forth until I growled.
“He hasn’t written. Not once since he moved,” I said.
“So? Have you written to him?”
She continued rocking me back and forth. “Maybe you should. He is our cousin, after all.”
“Shh! You’ll wake Mama and Papa.”
I flopped onto my back and glared at my younger sister. Not that she could see me in the dark. When she tugged on my arm, I finally rose from the bed.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
Dory shoved my coat toward me. “I miss Caty.”
I sighed. I missed her, too. She could give me advice about Nathan. But with a five-year-old, a toddler, and another on the way, she was far too busy for her spinster sister.
After I donned my coat, I followed Dory out to the dock. We sat down, then leaned back and gazed at the stars overhead. Ever since Caty married on Valentine’s Day, Dory and I decided we’d continue our stargazing tradition on that day.
The tears burned my eyes before Dory said a word.
“I miss him so much,” I said, my voice thick with sorrow.
“Oh, I know, sis. But you really ought to write to him. He’s probably thinking about you, but is afraid to write.”
I snorted. “Nathan Cahill isn’t afraid of a single thing.”
“Hmm. He might be afraid of ruining your friendship if he tells you how he feels.”
“He can’t feel much, considering he hasn’t written at all. Aunt Mary says nothing to Mama about him pining for me. He moved away eight months ago and forgot all about me.”
Dory sighed. “I’m sorry your dream of marrying Nathan Cahill seems unattainable.”
I sniffed and pulled my coat tighter over my nightgown.
Once my emotions settled, I asked her what her dream was.
“To marry someone like Papa, still.”
“It’s good that your dream is not so specific,” I said, as my disappointment with Nathan sliced through my heart. “That way, when you meet a man, if it doesn’t work out, you won’t be so crushed.”
When I choked on the last word, I gave up trying to hold back my tears. I cried out all my feelings. And when I finished, I resolved to forget all about Nathan Cahill and move on with my life.