The third chapter in a fictional series exploring the life of St. Anna Schäffer.
Note: This is part of a serial fiction series focusing on the life of St. Anna Schäffer, following the life of a fictional character as she encounters the saint. New chapters are released every Sunday! For past chapter(s) click here.
Several years passed after that fateful dream, and Anna realized that gradually her fear of suffering was diminishing. She could still see clearly in her mind that dream she had when she was 16, and never forgot the words of Jesus. While he appeared to her as a Good Shepherd, he promised suffering, a reality that took her many years to accept. It wasn’t something she was looking forward to and tried to stuff it in the back of her mind.
Suffering might be in her future, but it wasn’t in her immediate future. That was the only consolation she had.
Sofia was glad that Anna had become less fearful, especially as their workload continued to increase. They remained employed by Frau Huber, who greatly needed help with her laundry.
It would take several days to complete a laundry cycle. This involved sorting clothes, hauling water, and heating it on a stove. The clothes then had to be soaked overnight. The next day Sofia and Anna drained off the water, hauled and heated more water, and added the clothing to the water with soda and salt. They repeatedly scrubbed the clothes on a washboard and then boiled them on a stove while stirring them with a washing dolly. The process of washing concluded with wringing clothes out by hand and rinsing them several times to remove any soap.
This wasn’t easy for Sofia and Anna, but they were paid well and their income went straight back to their families. Anna’s family in particular had needed the money since her father died.
It was two weeks before Anna’s 19th birthday and she was getting excited about it as the two were preparing the laundry over the stove.
“Sofia! I am going to be 19 years old! I can’t wait! Are you coming over to my house? My mother is going to bake a grand cake for me! I can just taste the frosting!”
Sofia shook her head as they hoisted the clothes into the boiling kettle.
“Oh, Anna! Aren’t you too old to be worried about a birthday cake! You need to find someone to marry you, then your family won’t have to worry about you anymore!”
“Sofia, you know I am not interested in marriage! I have always felt called to the religious life….In fact, I wish I were in the convent right now….it’s been a dream of mine lat—.”
Hot air started to rush out of a stovepipe above the large, boiling kettle that held the laundry. Dust was starting to swirl in the air and was starting to settle on the laundry they were trying to clean. If it continued any longer, they might have to re-wash everything, a monumental task that would not make Frau Huber pleased.
“Anna! Wait here! I am going to fetch the gardener! He can help fix the pipe.”
As Sofia was running out of the room, Anna yelled back.
“Don’t worry the gardener! Let me try to fix it!”
Anna started to climb the stove and put both feet on top of the kettle that was full of boiling water.
“Sofia! I got it!”
As Anna was reaching above her head to fix the pipe she lost her balance and slipped right into the kettle.
Sofia was racing back into the room from outside with the gardener when they witnessed the horrible sight. Anna was knee deep him the boiling water and crying out in pain. She couldn’t move, but the gardener ran over and lifted her out of the kettle.
“Anna! Anna!” Sofia could barely look at her friend, whose legs were as red as a lobster. Tears were running down Sofia’s face. Was she going to be OK? Anna was no longer saying anything, as the pain must have caused her to faint.
The gardener grabbed a blanket and raced outside to find the nearest horse. She needed to get to the hospital, and fast!
Come back next Sunday for the next chapter!