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Joseph dreams of a life beyond the cold, black world of coal he and his family live in. Blackness has seeped into his skin. He fights to keep it from seeping into his soul. He is fortunate to have work, and blessed to be at home with his wife Antoinette, even if home is a gray patch town in the Kentucky hills. But the war between the states threatens to strip that away too. He presses on providing for his family, but tragedy strikes, leaving Joseph to wonder if there is life beyond the Black Rain and whether he has the faith to dream again.
..The story of their family intrigued me from the beginning. I felt every emotion and by the end of it, I was crying, in a good way. I have never read a fictional book that has affected every emotion in me before. I did not want the story to end and I look forward to reading more about Joseph and Antoinette!!
The Coal Fields of Kentucky
"Don't you be dying on me, Nette. I don't want to be living with out ya," Joseph Abernathy McCormick whispered as he bathed his wife's face and neck with a cool cloth and laid the rag back in the bowl of water. He smoothed her sticky hair from her face and gulped when he felt the heat beneath his fingers. She was warm. So warm. "Oh, God. Please don't--"
He couldn't finish the words. Didn't want to think them. They clung to his thoughts. His wife was sick as was his son, and some in the patch had already died from the illness.
He sucked a breath and sat back, trying to keep his eyes on his wife, but long hours in the mines and long hours sitting up with Nette took their toll. His lids grew heavy.
He could close them for just a moment. Just a moment.
"Joseph. Mr. McCormick."
The touch of a whisper buzzed in his head. He opened his eyes and, after a few blinks, a woman came into view.
"Muriel? Something wrong? Is Nette--" He licked his lips and started out of his chair.
"No, your wife is fine." The woman put her hand to his shoulder to stop him. "I just come to sit with her and the boy so you can go get some rest."
Joseph looked at his wife lying there. She looked so serene he didn't want to go. But Muriel was right. He needed his rest. He couldn't burn the candle at both ends and expect not to get burned.
He felt little better than a man crawling out from under a rock when the whistle sounded the next morning rousing the shift for work. A touch of sleep didn't go as far as they claimed. He just hoped it would get him through the day. He dressed and went to see about his wife.
"You'll be pleased to know their fevers broke finally," Muriel informed him before he slipped into see his room.
"Thank you," he told her with a nod.
"Don't be thankin' me." Muriel smiled. "I believe the Good Lord heard our prayers."
Joseph returned her smile and gave another nod before he stepped in with his wife.
He slipped to the chair near the bed, studying Antoinette, and his sixteen-month-old son and namesake, Joseph -- Joey. Antoinette held their little boy close and let him suckle as she lay back and closed her eyes. Joseph should leave and let her rest. After a couple of nights with a sick boy and her ailing herself, she deserved it, but he couldn't move. He couldn't tear his gaze from his wife and son.