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  • Rebecca dreamed that she lived in an Amish community in Pennsylvania. It was hard to tell what year it was in the dreams, but because no cars, airplanes or other signs of modern civilization appeared in the dreams, she guessed they took place in an earlier time.

    Since Rebecca worked at Greenfield Village doing historical reenactments, and took her work seriously, she did not find it odd to dream of living in an Amish community doing simple chores, churning butter, plowing and harrowing, knitting and sewing by hand, cooking simple meals, caring for the horses, sheep and cows. What puzzled her was that the dreams, always peopled with the same familiar inhabitants, seemed more real than her ordinary life. Her other dreams, which came less and less often, were more random, and meaningless.

    Greenfield Village was not in Pennsylvania, and Rebecca had never been to Pennsylvania. Yet the dream scenes of green rolling hills and rich farmlands began to seem so much more vibrant and real than her small apartment in Arab town in Dearborn, Michigan. Every night, when she came home from work in her gingham dress, apron and sunbonnet, and changed into jeans and a T-shirt, the apartment seemed greyer and less substantial. She began changing into clean alternate work costumes, began washing these out by hand in water she boiled in a pot on the stove and stirred with a wooden spoon.
  • But her stove was electric. It felt wrong. One night, she didn’t go home. She stayed on in the little house in Greenfield village, slept upstairs on the thin straw and goose down bed. She moved a few things into the house. Her spare frocks and bonnets. A hairbrush from the Ancient-Arts Store. The gardens she kept as part of her job provided plenty of food, and she milked the cows twice daily. Preparing food was part of her job, and eating that food made the reenactment more realistic, as did washing and hanging her clothes and washing her hair in the old washtub with water pumped by hand and heated on the woodstove.

    Since everyone else left at closing, no one noticed that she was still there, night after night, except Willie, the night watchman. And everyone knew Willie had a screw loose. He just accepted that she lived in the little white cottage, as if it were the most normal thing in the world. And it was.

    The house had come from Deer Hollow, Pennsylvania. Henry Ford had had it taken apart piece by piece, moved to Dearborn, and reassembled. But at night, after everyone but Rebecca and Willie left Greenfield Village, the house returned to Pennsylvania and took Rebecca with it.

    She instantly knew her away around and took long walks in the wild countryside. People who occasionally rode by in the buggies or on horseback called her by name and smiled at her.
  • One night, Willie stopped by the house just as it was about to transition to Pennsylvania. The transition had become seamless with no leftover shimmering. One minute they were in Michigan, the next in Pennsylvania. And Willie was dressed in knickers and a blousy white shirt. He was surprisingly handsome. Rebecca felt as if she’d always known him, so when he asked her to marry him, she agreed.

    He had another house, a cabin he had built beside a river, with hand-hewn logs, a perfect stone fireplace and built-in warming ovens. A few nights later, they moved into it, and the little white house returned to Michigan without them.

    For a few years, they occasionally rode the white house back to Michigan and appeared with their babies, and then their toddlers, much to the amazement of the new reenacters. But as their family grew, along with the size of their fields, and the community around them, and Willie’s business of making brooms during the winter evenings expanded, and Rebecca became famous for her quilts and knitting, they became more and more involved in their lives in Pennsylvania, and Michigan faded to a distant dream.

    They’d almost forgotten Greenfield Village, when a new girl arrived one night in the white house. Rebecca welcomed her and fed her homemade bread and unbleached hominies and strawberries jam from the wild strawberries they gathered every spring in the overgrown yard of the white cottage. The girl’s name was Sarah. The next morning, Rebecca told Willie that Sarah would return. Willie replied that the new night caretaker, Abraham, would soon be arriving with her, and they might help him build a cabin along the river, a mile or so from their place. Sarah and Abraham, with the skills acquired at Greenfield Village, would help their small Deer Hollow community thrive and grow.

    Rebecca leaned her head on Willie’s tall, strong shoulder and looked out over the fields where cattle grazed and her children worked the crops. When she tried to recall the dim apartment in Dearborn where she had once lived, it seemed hopelessly small and dark in the sunlit expanse of everything around her now, and she let it go, as if it had never been. It was more like a puzzling dream than anything real.

    Mary Stebbins Taitt
  • This flash fiction piece was written for a prompt for the Cowbirderers' Poetry and Flash Fiction Group #7 on Facebook. I think there are still 8 openings if you would like to join. I wrote this piece today and have given it 5 sets of edits so far. I expect that it is not yet finished.

    All photos taken by me at Greenfield Village. The girl in the photographs's name is Rebecca.

    Health report: I had my surgery on Thursday June 27, and today, Monday July 1st, It has been, as of this writing, 3.75 days since the surgery. The surgery was reported to be a success by the doctor, but he expects 3 weeks to 3 months recovery time, with a fair amount of pain. I am way behind on reading and writing Cowbird stories. Because of my health situation, this cannot be helped, and I apologize.
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