I was glad when Micah walked out of the village without a word, because I knew he was angry.
I stood alone on the village street, feeling the soft ball in my hand, feeling Zeke’s arms around me, feeling the weight of Micah’s glare, feeling Gideon’s lips on mine. I stood there feeling guilt and shame, love, hope, and confusion.
Then I felt the weight of so many eyes on me and Mother’s hand sweeping my hair to the side and smoothing it down.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
I shook my head. “I’m going to the falls,” I said, and I stayed there all day, returning only when I knew Mother would start to worry. But when I got back and saw her face as she sat at the fire with Dinah, I knew she had worried anyway.
It wasn’t difficult to keep house for just Mother and me, so I started going to Kalem’s, and I kept his house in the city.
One day while I was hanging his laundered tunics behind his home to dry, I asked him, “How come you have never remarried?”
He sat nearby cleaning a rabbit for the evening meal. “I don’t remember telling you I was married.”
“You once said you had a daughter my age. Did you have a wife?”
He was silent for long moments. I knew I was being intrusive. But then, it wasn’t like he hadn’t been intrusive in my life.
“I…still have a wife.”
I straightened up and looked at him. “Oh.” I couldn’t think of anything else to say.
After a few more moments, the rabbit was done and he stood to take it to the pot of stew I had boiling over his fire. He slipped the pieces in and returned to his seat to clean up.
“You know of the battle in which I slew your father,” he said at last.
“Yes.” It was our oldest family story, and I had finally begun to believe it was true.
“When I saw that the people offered no resistance, I was overcome with shock and then horror at what I had done. It may be the practice of some to attack and kill unarmed men, but it was not my practice.” As he spoke, a shadow came over his face, a darkness in his eyes that I had not seen since before we had left for Judea. “Over the days that followed, I was filled with deep regret. I despaired. But finally I began to feel a hope and what I now know was the Holy Ghost.”
“And you went to the king and sought his forgiveness,” I said, reciting what I had always been told of Kalem’s conversion.
“Oh no,” he said. “I had kil—” he cut himself off and cleared his throat. “The king was dead,” he continued instead. “I went to his brother, Lamoni.”
The old king, Anti-Nephi Lehi, had given his kingdom to one of his sons, purportedly my father, though Mother had never so much as mentioned this. Lamoni was his brother. Lamoni had never ascended to the high throne of the Lamanites, but had been a king over his own people for a time. After moving to Jershon, he had yielded the title completely, and we were ruled by judges just as the people of Nephi were.
Having been in the army for years and knowing something of the way battles ran, I knew that Kalem himself must have been of the noble class to have had the honor of slaying the enemy’s king. I always thought of this without much emotion. Since I had never known my father, these events were just a story to me, one that affected my entire life certainly, but not one I had even believed until a few years ago.
“Well,” he went on. “When I went back home and told my wife what I had done, joined the Church of God, she was furious about it. Her family was quite prominent and it was a great embarrassment to her.”
I could guess what happened and wasn’t surprised when he told me how she had demanded he leave and never return.
“So I did. I did what she asked, honored her wishes, and it has been one of my biggest regrets.”
“Why don’t you go back? Find your daughter. She is a woman grown now. She probably has a home of her own.”
He snorted. “Do you think she would allow me into it? After I left her abandoned all these years?”
I grimaced. “No, I don’t suppose she would. But you are always too hard on yourself. You never know what life has been for her. She may welcome you.”