by Jason Sanford
The English arrived at the farm shortly before supper, their ship buzzing my draft
horses and baling combine and kicking a cloud of hay dust into the dry air. Even
though I wasn't impressed with the ship's acrobatics, my younger brother Sol,
who'd been wrapping the hay bundles with twine, stared at the English with
excitement. Knowing I wouldn't get any more work out of him, I stopped the
horses. The socket beneath my straw hat itched in resonance with our new
visitors, which I took to be a particularly bad sign.
The ship landed by the barn and three English stepped off. One, an older woman
named Ms. Watkins, had served as New Lancaster's mediator between the Amish
and English for the last three centuries and always respected our customs, as
demonstrated by the plain gray dress she wore. The other English, though, didn't
share her regard. The man behind Ms. Watkins wore a blue militia uniform, a
definite slap at our nonviolent beliefs, while the teenage girl beside him was naked
except for a swirl of colors obscuring her private parts. She gazed around the farm
and smiled when she spotted me.
"What do you think they want, Sam?" Sol asked as he stared at the naked girl. I
shook my head, even though I had a good idea. A new comet had shone in the sky
for the last few weeks, growing massively larger with each passing day. My father
and I had discussed its looming impact several times. Now, as my father walked
toward the English, I knew he had come to the same conclusion as me. I quickly
handed the horse reins to Sol and joined him.
"Ms. Watkins," my father said, shaking her hand.
"Bishop Yoder," Ms. Watkins said. Then, turning to me, "This can't be Samuel?
Last time I saw him he was just a little boy."
"Sam hasn't been a boy for almost five years," my father said without a trace of
pride, just like any proper Amish man. "In fact, he will turn twenty-one next
"Ah, rumspringa," the naked girl said, rudely stepping between my father and Ms.
Watkins. "I assume you'll be baptized on your 21st birthday?"
"I hope to be," I said, annoyed at an outsider asking such a personal question. In
addition, these English surely knew exactly who I was. Their pretense of
ignorance was merely another of their endless, convoluted games, although it
would be rude to say that.
"Well, I hope you'll reconsider. After all, there's more to life than working a left-behind farm." The girl dimmed the colors flowing across her chest, allowing
everyone a full view of her bare breasts. "It's not too late, you know. You can
still seek forgiveness for any deadly sin that comes your way."