Time in Willow Creek: 12 months, 2 weeks, 6 days
Juliana’s eyes were as wide as the ocean when Harriett presented her with a letter. She gasped, snatched the letter, and charged upstairs, squealing the whole way. The envelope was almost in shreds by the time she made it to her room and plopped on the bed. She expected just a letter, but a pack of pictures almost fell out which excited her even more. She took a moment to gaze upon her family before she savored her mother’s words like moments alone with Kevin. Happy tears erupted from her eyes like the fountains in Windenburg. She missed them all so much and was glad to see they were all doing well. After taking one more pass at the photos, she tucked them away in her nightstand and tended to the letter.
(translated for your understanding)
My Dearest, Juliana,
It was such a joy to hear you sounding so happy and youthful! It was just like old times to read you yammering on like you used to. I’m glad you have friends of your own and are getting along with all of your house mates. They are quite lovely people, so don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself. If you don’t understand something, say so. I’m sure they don’t expect you to be 100% fluent at this point. Besides, how will you continue to learn without asking questions? If something is inappropriate, they will tell you, and you will make sure to avoid it in the future.
About the pictures, I thought I would surprise you. Don’t worry. We didn’t spend much money. We simply went to the photo booth at the nice plaza in town. It was such a fun day. I may have splurged on ice cream. 🙂 You’ll have to send us pictures of you and all your friends now! We would love to see everyone you write about and what your new home is like.
Speaking of wanting to see your home, I am going to decline Kevin’s generous offer and also give you a word of warning. Be careful with this man! He sounds very nice and charming, but that is what worries me. Rich and powerful men like him always have expectations attached to their overly generous gifts and often prey on young, innocent women such as yourself. I would advise you not to continue seeking friendship from this man. I know this is not what you want to hear, but it is for the best. You’ve gone through enough to get to where you are. I don’t want you experience any unnecessary heartache and fall prey to folly at the hand of a handsome devil. You were doing so well before you met him, and you’ll continue to do well without him on account of your hard work and persistence.
All of the children, your aunts, uncles, and cousins say hello and wish you well. I look forward to hearing even more wonderful things about your life whatever comes next. Take care, my love. May God continue to richly bless you.
All she wanted to do was show Kevin the pictures of her family until her mother sucked all the air out of the room. What was she to do? She couldn’t fathom Kevin being anything but the kind, generous man she knew him to be. There was no way he was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He wouldn’t dare do anything to hurt her, right? But, the strongly worded letter in her hand suggested otherwise. She doesn’t know him, Juliana thought. Was she expected to obey a command from an ocean away? What if she decided not to heed her mother’s advice? Mamá wouldn’t know. But, could there be any truth to the warning? Had she been too gullible and accepting of his gifts? Was she already playing directly into his plans? She was so confused and didn’t know what to believe. In her heart, she knew Kevin was good and would never pull the wool over her eyes. But, she could hear her mother saying, “The heart is deceitful and wicked! No one can truly know it.” She told them that all the time as kids. It’s how she taught them to pray for guidance when they were uncertain. She had gotten away from a lot of those childhood lessons since arriving in Willow Creek. Perhaps it was time she went back to them.