It was a time of sorrow. It was a time of joy. It was a time of fear. It was a time of hope. It all depended upon one’s individual outlook. For some, the coming change was seen as a good thing. For others, it meant loss and perhaps even death.
Shania was uncertain how the change would affect her. She wanted to hold on to hope but it was getting more difficult with each passing day.
Shania’s family was poor. They were farmers of sorts but times were difficult for their kind. Every cent they had saved to book passage to the new land had been spent trying to keep the farm alive while they were still there. Now there was nothing left.
Only the rich, the highly intelligent or the creative were being sent by choice. Everyone else had to earn the money for passage. Now it looked as if Shania and her family would be left behind.
“Girl, what are you doing out here?” The question came from a peace keeper who’d snuck up behind the slim brunette. “It is almost curfew. Run along and get home where you belong.”
Shania curtsied to show respect and began walking toward her family’s farm. As she did, she took a final view of the ship that would take many of her kind to the land of milk and honey.
Blue eyes filled with wetness as Shania quickened her pace. There was nothing left for her here. Part of her would rather die than stay behind. Another part of her never wanted to leave her home. Now it appeared the choice was no longer hers. It rested in the hands of another.
Shania had applied to be a lady-in-waiting for one of the rich aristocrats. She hadn’t yet been turned down but she held little hope of achievement. More than 100 girls of all ages had applied for the same post. There were just three openings.
Shania sighed as she entered her parents’ small cottage. Her mother turned from the table to look at her. “You almost missed curfew. You know what that would have meant.”
“Yes, Mother, I do but surely you know I’m not going to get hired.” Shania moved forward to help her mother finish dinner.
“You don’t know that. You are intelligent and charming. You can sew and draw too.”
“But I’m not outstanding at any of those things. They are seeking only the best of the best,” Shania sighed.
“If you give up, you won’t stand a chance,” her mother cautioned. “I would like one of my children to make it to the new land. We need someone to carry on the family name.”
“You act as if it is a foregone conclusion that those who stay behind will be killed. They could be wrong, Mother.”
“They aren’t,” her mother whispered. “I feel it with everything that is within me. The asteroid will hit here and most, if not all of us, will die.”
“If you believe that, Mother, how can I possibly leave? How can I go if I know the rest of my family will perish?”
“It is what it is. What purpose will it serve for you to stay behind to die as well?” Shania’s mother glared at her daughter with a hint of anger in her eyes. “Do you not want to survive?”
“Of course I do,” Shania returned. “I don’t want to die but that doesn’t mean I want any of you to die either.”
Shania’s mother took her hand and led her back to the table. “Sit. Let’s talk the way we used to do.”
“About what shall we talk Mother? Do we talk about death or life; about hope or loss of it?”
Alaura’s blue eyes drilled into those of her child. “About life and about hope, of course,” she responded. “Tell me who should go Shania? I’m old. Your father is even older. Your brother is a troublemaker and your sister is terminally ill. You are the only hope for our family. Can’t you see that?”
“I do, Mother,” Shania murmured. “I just fear letting you down.”
It was at that moment a knock sounded at the door. Without hesitation, Alaura rose to answer it. She smiled when she did, although Shania could not see it.
“Come in,” she said excitedly. “We are so pleased to see you.”
Shania cranked her neck sideward to catch a glimpse of their visitor. She recognized him immediately as the caregiver for Lady DeWinter.
“I just came to give you this,” the man said with a slight bow. “And to encourage Shania to be ready to go at 7:00 a.m. If she is late, she’ll be denied passage.”
“She won’t be late,” Alaura promised as she closed the door behind the departing man. Then she hurried to the table and handed the note to Shania, who opened it immediately.”
“I am pleased to offer you the position as lady-in-waiting,” it said. “Be ready to leave on time. There is no need to bring anything. It will all be provided for you.” It was signed Daphne DeWinter.
Shania looked up and saw the tears in her mother’s eyes. She was uncertain what to say.
“I’m so happy, baby,” her mother cooed. “For all of us.”
Shania nodded and stood to go and see her sister one final time. “I won’t get to say goodbye to Fritz,” she mumbled. “There’s no time to go to the jail.”
“I will tell him for you. He will understand,” her mother assured.
The next morning, Shania rose early and dressed with care. Her mother made her a final breakfast and then handed her a small book.
“It contains the history of our family. Keep it close to you. Pass it on to your ancestors. Do not let the rest of us go unremembered.”
Shania nodded, tears breaking from her eyes. She hugged her mother for a long time before she turned to meet her father’s stare.
“I’m proud of you,” he said with something in his eyes she had never before seen – pride.
Shania walked to the ship alone and met Lady DeWinter’s caregiver as planned. They boarded together. Within the hour they were on their way to a new home.
As the sky disappeared beneath the rocket ship, Shania’s stomach lurched. She’d never again see her family. She was going to a new land – a place called Earth.