A short, drabbley sort of companion piece to "The Letter." Woo, none of this is mine.


"Why aren't we allowed to see Wendla?" Thea says with a pout, kicking at a stone on the path in front of her.

"She's sick," Anna says, for the tenth time today.

"Well, that's no reason," Thea frowns. "Really! When I was sick last winter, didn't everyone come to see me?"

"Wendla is much sicker than that," Anna replies, adding with a nearly undetectable hint of sarcasm, "Her mama won't allow visitors."

"But I saw Ilse coming from her house just yesterday," Thea persists.

"Perhaps she's gotten worse since then," Anna suggests, although she would hope herself wrong.

"I'll bet it's because Ilse visited that Wendla's mama won't let her have company," Thea scoffs. "Really. She's probably punishing her for seeing that... that vixen."

"Thea!" exclaims Anna, in surprise. "What a thing to say. Ilse is our friend."

Was, she mentally corrects herself. Was our friend. Now she's not sure where they stand with the wild, lost girl - it's been ages, it seems, since any of them truly saw her.

"Ilse has sinned," Thea replies solemnly, sounding just like her mama. "And there's no way around it. She's ruined herself."

Anna can't find it in herself to argue this, though she should. All she says - murmurs, really - is, "And oughtn't God to forgive her, all the same?"

A radical notion.

Thea has gone back to the original subject, though. "I just don't see how Wendla would be too sick just to sit in the parlor, just for a little. Just so we could talk to her. Goodness, she's probably not even heard about Melchi."

"I suspect she has," Anna replies. "News that sordid travels fast."

She doesn't add that of course Wendla would know about Melchior; of course she'd find out all the news about her crush, whose mere name could turn her blushing and shy, more so now than ever.

"What's gotten into you, Anna?" Thea asks pointedly, stopping to get a straight look at her friend. "You're... you're almost cynical today."

"I'm sorry," Anna sighs, although she isn't, really. (She knows she should be, but she isn't.) "I suppose I'm just out of sorts worrying about Wendla."

"Yes," Thea agrees, in a voice that would be wary if she wasn't so naturally trusting. "This sickness came on so suddenly, and it hasn't gone away for - for days and days now."

"She probably just needs rest," Anna says - the answer her own mama gave, although she's not sure if she fully believes it.

"I should hope so," Thea sighs. "I do miss her dreadfully."