The Harrowing Tree

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Somewhere, not far beyond where Lizzie Hastings, her husband, and their child once sat, a cool breeze sifted its touch through the long grass out on Hollow Hill, and from the messy tangle of branches, the only tree in that pasture shed its last leaf.

A storm was brewing from the south, and with it, a whole new kind of darkness than any they’d previously known.

The Harrowing Tree stood watch, guarding its home. Guarding its people. As it always had. And always would.

Come what may, Bellriver, its people, the Chief—

They would all be ready.

Jeannie Fellows stepped out onto the ice of Calvary Pond like she knew what it was to walk on water, and though it creaked beneath her, gave a low growl of disapproval, she did not fear the potential plummet into dark waters. Simply, she stood there in the light, cast a single glance back at Hadley’s Cove, and shut her eyes.

Inclining her head, she looked beyond the coming clouds, a blizzard waiting at heaven’s gates, and uttered a single prayer.

Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me . . .”

She kneeled then, feeling the cold slip up through the thin fabric of her trousers and into her bloodstream. But when she closed her eyes, she could almost swear she felt a hand fall into hers. Felt the warmth. The pressure of another body, leaning into hers, for comfort. And for support.

Jeannie smiled up at the sky, and when she walked across that water one last time, she no longer felt the emptiness that had come from Kerry’s passing. Instead, she felt a hollow warmth, like a fire, glowing brightly inside of her. A perpetual comfort.

Mark was waiting there on the shore, and she walked into his arms like she had a thousand times before. Only this time, she did so with a hand on her belly, and when she looked back across the ice at where she’d knelt, she smiled.

“There’s something I need to tell you,” she said, but her eyes already said it for her.

Mark’s gaze fell to her hand, to her stomach beneath. And what lied within.

And like Jesus before him, Mark wept.

In the distance, just like in the past, a bell tolled for all to hear.


Perhaps calling for all to gather.


Or else warning them to flee.



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