Before Leah knew it, autumn had passed by and the small town of Nappanee was covered in the soft, cotton layers of snow of the wintry season. It had been weeks, even months, since Ethan and Leah first agreed to be friends and nothing else. For the majority of the time, they were both successful at being 'friends' however, there were a handful of times when they both sensed a sudden vibe, a connection of some kind that would lead them to question their 'friendship' in their own hearts. However, often these 'moments' were quickly interrupted by the constant presence of the wonderful Martha Dewberry.
Leah slowly batted her eyelashes as she opened her eyes to the bright early morning light shining through her window. She lifted her head off her pillow and glanced over on the wall. Today was December 21st, the first official day of winter. Geez, about time the calendar caught up with the weather, she thought to herself as she gently slipped her feet into the comforts of her slippers. She walked to the edge of her windowsill and quickly squinted as the sunlight reflected off the freshly fallen snow. She saw Dr. Barlow shovelling the snow with Brian and she waved as they both looked up.
Leah walked downstairs and was welcomed by the warm scent of frying bacon and eggs coming from the kitchen. "Mornin' Leah! It's about time you woke up," said Maxine as she flipped trying to find the comics section of the paper.
"Hi Max. Yeah, I lost track of time. I didn't see how late it was," she replied as she took a seat next to her.
"No kidding. I knew you were tired from last night but even I'm not as dead as you are and I'm younger than you!" Max took a sip from her cup of orange juice and pushed the paper to the side of the table and turned to face Leah. "So are you going to tell me or what?"
Leah raised her left eyebrow and answered, "I really have no idea what you're talking about Max," trying to sound convincing but she was not successful.
She smirked and gave Leah her undeniable pout and batted her eyelashes in attempt to sway her friend and surprisingly it worked as Leah signed and said, "I'm not telling you because of that puppy face worked on me. It's just so annoying I want you to stop!" Both of the girls laughed as Leah continued, "Well you were there last night so I don't even know why you're asking me what happened. It was Charity's birthday party. I don't see what's so 'wow' about it. You're easily entertained, aren't you Max!"
"Yeah yeah yeah... Tell me something new. Now what did you and Ethan talk about last night? I know I was there but I wasn't beside you the whole night," said Maxine eagerly as she looked intently at Leah.
Leah smiled and sighed and began to retell the events of last night, as she always does to entertain her friend.
It was a special night for Leah's dear friend Charity - it was her birthday! The Longacre was holding a dinner in honour of her and they had invited the Dewberry and Barlow family to join in the celebration. It was a beautiful winter's night as the Barlows and Leah arrived on the Longacre farm. Charity quickly welcomed them inside into the homey family room, which had a warm fireplace radiating with heat. Charity introduced her family, including the Dewberrys who had arrived just before them. The night had a lovely start and things continued to improve when everyone gathered for a wonderful dinner prepared by the women. Leah sat back quietly and observed everyone as they laughed and conversed among themselves. She found it amazing how the Doc and Mr. Longacre pretended so well that they've never met each other before and how at ease Mr. Longacre seems considering English people were among his company.
Soon dinner was over and the women cleaned up the table and the men retired to the sitting area. Leah was helping Charity and Max dry the dishes when she saw Ethan signal her to come outside with him. She quietly excused herself and met him outside on the porch steps as usual as they started to walk off.
"It's getting quite cool these days..." said Ethan as they slowly walked towards the barn.
"Yeah, I can definitely feel the winter season coming soon." She looked up to the dark blanket sky and became entranced by the twinkling of the millions of stars. "So when do you and Martha plan to marry? I guess it's too late to marry this year, right?" Why did I just ask that? Why should I care? My curiosity always gets the best of me! But I couldn't help, thought Leah.
Ethan seemed a bit surprised by Leah's question but answered it nonetheless. "Well it is too late for this year considering there's only 11 days left..."
Leah thinks and suddenly realizes Ethan is right. "I completely forgot that it was already December 20th... Wow... Time just flies here."
Ethan smiles. "As for the wedding, it will most likely be sometime next year after the harvest... November or so I would presume. Martha wants to have it as soon as possible..."
Is that supposed to be a surprise? Of course Martha wants it as soon as possible. "Well I can understand why... I'm sure she's very excited about. A lot of girls start picturing their wedding even when they're very young. It's every girl's dream..." She smiled but as she thought about it, she soon realized that she has dreamt about a wedding but she was never sure whom the groom was or even what type of person she pictured him to be. She soon shook off the thought as Ethan began to speak again.
"Yes... A wedding is quite an important event." He nodded in agreement but he couldn't help but feel some uneasiness about his particular wedding with Martha.
"Yeah... Ethan... I have something to tell you..." She slowly became more and more nervous as she watched Ethan look at her curiously. How am I going to tell him? He's going to be so... This is going to change everything and so much has happened with our 'friends' thing and add this on top of it... Her thoughts began to generate in a whirlwind.
Something to tell me... I couldn't help but feel some excitement and anticipation as if Leah is about to tell me something that's good but wait... people never have good news when they say they have something to tell you... It's almost as bad as 'we have to talk'. Soon Ethan began to get nervous as he said, "Leah... Is something wrong? Are you alright?"
Okay get a grip Leah! It's not THAT bad... It'll be okay. Breathe and just show him the letter. She slowly reached into her back pocket to retrieve a letter as she said, "Oh no... I'm fine but..." She hands him the letter and nervously watches his reaction intently.
Ethan is confused as he reads the letter and pauses for a moment to process everything. "Leah..." He didn't know what to say... Is he supposed to be supportive or disappointed? His emotions began to become entangled as he tried to piece together his thoughts. I am her friend so I should be supportive, yet I don't want to see her leave but...
His thoughts were soon interrupted by Leah waving her hand in front of his face to snap him out of his trance. "Ethan...? You're okay with this right?"
Ethan quickly replied, "Oh yes! It's great Leah! This is what you've always wanted! I'm happy for you and I wish you the best of luck! I'm glad you're doing this..."
"Well good... I appreciate your support."
"Wait... you actually told him? Not just that... He said it was great?!?! What kind of answer is that?" Maxine quickly protested and began to ramble on about Ethan's reaction but Leah quickly got her to quiet down.
"I'm glad he doesn't have a problem with me going back to school come this January." And it's true. I'm glad he's supporting me on this but I can't help but wonder why he seemed THAT supportive... We're friends and we should support each other but there should be at least a bit of disappointment... right?
"I just don't get it. You're leaving after you and Ethan have become such good friends and he seems so... okay with it." This didn't make any sense to Max.
"Well what is he going to be? Sad and disappointed and convince me not to finish my education and waste the previous years I've already devoted to my studies?"
Maxine thinks about what Leah just said and says, "Well if you put it that way... I guess it makes sense but you know all of us are disappointed you're leaving, especially me. I'll be so lonely! I won't have anyone to talk to about everything. You've really become a sister to me, you know." She couldn't help but feel sad to think her friend was going to be gone for four months.
"You've become a sister to me too and I'll come back and visit. You can also call me and email me anytime!" She leaned over and hugged Max.
"So when are you leaving?"
"I'm not sure... Sometime after Christmas before New Year's I think..."