Angel Falling Softly

Chapter 50

Blood is thicker than water

Jennifer Forsythe reappeared in Cottonwood Estates as unexpectedly as she had vanished. Over the Christmas holidays she attended church with her parents and sister, accompanied by a striking young woman with fair skin and clear eyes, her long white hair drawn back in a ponytail.

“I swear they look like sisters.”

“Just like that other woman who was here—what was her name?”

The story went around that Kamilla was Jennifer’s au pair. An amended version said that she was her nurse. Kamilla sat in the foyer during services reading The New England Journal of Medicine, and Jennifer ran to her with a bright smile when Sunday school let out.

The bishop didn’t have to tell Troy Ellis to leave Kamilla alone.

And then she and Jennifer were gone again, without a word of public explanation. Some said they’d seen them around downtown Salt Lake. Some said they’d moved back to New York. Sister Millington said that Rachel told her Jennifer had been enrolled in a long-term cancer study sponsored by Deseret Children’s Hospital and Wylde Medical Informatics, thanks to a grant provided by the DEI Foundation.

Rachel deflected all further inquiries with a sad smile. A few short months before, she had steeled herself to listen again to the final stanza of the poem by Milton:

Then thou the mother of so sweet a child
Her false imagined loss cease to lament,
And wisely learn to curb thy sorrows wild;
Think what a present thou to God hast sent.

Attending the Bromleys’ funeral, the verse had struck her as hollow comfort. There was nothing falsely imagined about such a loss, these thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears. The separation felt to her as must the phantom pain from a severed limb.

And yet—what an unexpected gift her daughter had brought back with her from across the river, a grace so vast it reached into the Underworld to redeem the living dead.

Now, instead, other words echoed though Rachel’s mind: The Lord killeth, and maketh alive. He bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. The hymn Hannah sang as she handed Samuel over to Eli’s eternal care.

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