My Ancestor’s Journal

I found this journal among some things in granddad’s attic. As far as I can tell it belonged to some old relative of ours but I’m not sure what I make of it? Maybe one of you guys can give me some help here. Maybe this is some sort of fiction the guy wrote while bored, I can’t imagine running a farm was that entertaining. But at the same time, I really don’t know. Some of the book’s illegible but I’ve inscribed what I can down below.

_ _ _

June 12

Another storm tonight. Real bad one too. Think lightning touched down a few times in the pasture. I’m gonna have to go out tomorrow to make sure nothing’s damaged. Today was good though. Productive. Think Rose is going to have that calf soon- she’s getting bigger by the day.

Alva’s talking about going to Sara’s grave again. I don’t know if me or the boys will have time. She might have to walk there herself. And I wouldn’t say it to her but I miss Sara too. Almost too much. It’s better I stay home.

June 13

Someone was out last night in that damned storm.

Albert found him this morning. He’d let the cows out to graze and went to check on the chickens before he heard a hullaballoo coming from the pasture. He ran out there and found the poor fellow.

It was obvious he’d been out there all night, he was soaked to the bone, naked as the day he was born and for a moment I thought I had a dead man on my land. But when he started to murmur I had Albert and Sven bring him inside while I finished up the chores.

The man’s still not awake. We dressed him and set him by the fire to warm up. He’s fevered but Alva’s a good girl and taking care of him. I’m surprised he’s still alive after being out in the rain all night. Although I’m not holding my breath to see if he survives. The chills might take him before morning.

June 15

He finally woke up.

He’d been out since we found him, mumbling deliriously and didn’t have a clue where he was. But this morning while Alva was sitting by him he opened his eyes, sat up, and asked for water.

The man’s got no memory of who he is or how he ended up in the pasture. I might end up making this month’s trip to town earlier than planned, start asking around. Someone ought to be missing him, and well, he sticks out. Handsome man, strong jaw, hair so blond it’s almost white, and tall. He’s got head and shoulders on me in height. He also has this scar on his back. Not a whipping scar, looks like someone tried to skin him. It’s only recently healed too.

In the meantime I’ll help him get healthy and see if he can handle farmwork.

June 24

We’ve taken to calling our guest Stefan. He seems amused by the choice and likes it, so Stefan he is.

Still no memory, but he’s gotten strong enough to walk around and help keep the house neat. Alva already fancies him, practically lives to help him out and show him around. I can’t say I dislike the man either. He’s quiet, doesn’t speak a harsh word. Since he’s gotten so much better I think I’ll see about having him help me with the cows in the morning.

June 26

Cows don’t like Stefan. I don’t know why. But the minute Stefan steps foot in the barn they panic, start making a ruckus and kick out at anyone who gets near them. I had to make him leave, I didn’t want to panic Rose into losing her calf.

The two goats we got don’t mind him though. The male always seemed to be an ornery thing, especially when we got near his wife, but Stefan can enter their pen without getting butted. So that’s his job now. Takes one more thing off of me and the boy’s plates.

June 27

Alva had a nightmare last night that Rose lost her calf and gave birth to it dead. When Alva got close, the calf exploded into maggots that crawled onto Rose and ate her alive. Hell of a dream. She was pretty shaken up about it, Stefan took over her chores for the day. Good man.

Gonna make that run into town Monday. I’ll bring Stefan with me. See if anyone can place him. It’ll be a darn shame when he goes though. The bruises on my backside are finally fading since I don’t have that damn billy goat charging me every time I go in there.

July 3

No one recognized Stefan. I’m disappointed but also a little relieved. Means he can stay around longer. We don’t mind having an extra mouth to feed here, especially since he’s willing to work. Sleeps in my room now, just so no tongues wag about him sleeping too close to Alva. I won’t have anyone slandering my girl’s name.

Stefan don’t mind the bedroll at least. He’s asleep now, his hair’s still white as the day he appeared. It looks like a halo spread around his head now. His face sometimes twists in his sleep, as if he doesn’t like what he’s seeing. Maybe he’s seeing pieces of who he used to be, but still can’t put together who he is.

Poor man. I can’t imagine not knowing who you are.

July 4

I had a dream last night.

Rose gave birth to her calf, dead like Alva’s dream. But instead of turning into maggots, Stefan walked up to it. His mouth was turned into a grin so disturbing it made me break into cold sweats. He knelt by the calf and pulled it up by the head before biting its throat.

Worms crawled from the wound as Stefan chewed on the spoiled flesh, his teeth turned sharp as knives. He got up and walked to me. I couldn’t run away, I couldn’t move a muscle.

Stefan kissed me, his breath tasted like bitter rot. I could feel the worms from the meat squirming into my mouth and down my throat. I still couldn’t move, and I began to choke on Stefan’s tongue and the worms.

When I woke up, I’d found myself chewing on my blanket. Stefan had woken up and was getting dressed. Time for chores. He asked if I was all right. I lied and said I just had a strange dream.

My mouth still tastes like the worms.

July 6

No more nightmares. None I can remember at least. But I think I’m walking about I my sleep. When I awake in the morning my feet are covered in mud and I got scratches on my legs like I’ve been walking through thorns. Feel like I’ve walked for miles too, my thighs ache.

Stefan’s been a good help though. At night he’s been massaging my back, trying to soothe the pain. Talks about his own dreams and what little he remembers.

I don’t listen to all of it, the man has good hands but Stefan apparently had brothers once upon a time. Lots of them. He wasn’t a farmhand, but he can’t say what he used to do. Not sure if he can’t or he won’t.

Sven and Stefan had an argument. Don’t know about what, but Sven seems to got the idea he’s sweet on Alva. I don’t know where the hell that idea turned up, but Sven’s like his mother. Stubborn once his mind latches onto an idea.

If Stefan wanted to marry Alva though, I’d give that marriage my blessing, if that’s what the both of them wanted. He’d take good care of her.

July 7

The calf was born dead all right. Rose died too. Something must’ve gone wrong, the calf had gotten stuck and that’s what caused the bleeding. Albert found their bodies, the calf still hanging out of Rose’s body half way as they lay in a pool of blood. The stench is so bad, I think it’ll stick into the walls forever.

Trying to salvage what we can by butchering the two of them and salting the meat to save. I’m starting to think Stefan used to be a butcher. He carves meat professionally. I might see if he ever wants to leave to get him started in town as that.  

I hate that I lost a cow. But it ain’t Stefan’s fault no matter what Sven thinks. I think Sven’s been paying a little too much attention in church. Devils don’t walk among man, the son of the Lord made sure of that. They have no power over us.

July 15

I can’t let my children know what happened this afternoon. They’d never look at me the same again.

Stefan and I were out there repairing the fence when he asked if we could go for a walk, farther from the house. So we could be alone. The look in his eyes wasn’t the kind of ‘alone’ that I should’ve agreed to. But I did.

Stefan and I sinned together under the apple tree. I loved Sara, I did, but she never made me feel like Stefan did. It was bliss, like my wedding night all over again. I kissed his hands and praised his name and I only feel guilty because of the risk of getting caught.

It’s our secret. Stefan will live here, just a man with no home and nowhere to go, and we’ll keep on making love like husband and wife. And no one has to know.

July 21

Sven and Stefan had another fight. At first I found it funny since Sven’s still stuck on the idea that Stefan’s wanting to marry Alva, but it turned into shouting and hot anger. Albert tried to get in between the two, try to calm them down, but then Alva fainted, her skirts soaked with blood.

I took her into her room and yelled for Sven to run for the doctor. I had to undress her to if she was injured and that’s when I saw it.

A dead black kitten was curled between her thighs. As far as I can tell, she birthed it.

I hid the cat’s body by the time the doctor came and he diagnosed it as one of those ‘monthly’ things.

I have to talk to Alva tomorrow when she awakens.

July 22

Alva confessed to me witchcraft, but where she admits she learned it from has chilled me to the bone. Stefan gave her the tools to talk to The Devil Himself, to sell her soul to gain his power.

I didn’t believe her, called her a liar and that she’ll burn in hell for tarnishing a good man’s name. She burst into tears and told me everything.

Stefan told her she had a gift, a power that could be unlocked. She at first resisted the idea of calling on the Devil, but he told her how much could be gained. I asked if he was a witch too. She told me he was not… but told me that he was no man either.

I’m going to have to talk to Stefan tomorrow. I don’t know how I’m going to do it. But I will.

July 24

It’s storming again. I still haven’t talked to Stefan. I’ve let him sleep in my bed and kiss my body but I can’t ask him why he turned my daughter to witchcraft. I’m afraid of his answer.

Alva’s strength has returned, and moreso, it’s doubled. I’ve seen more cats. Black ones.

I had to set down my journal, I thought it was hailing but it’s not.

It’s raining toads. Toads and blood.

Ju y 2

I asked Ste an what he was. What he was to have his very presence kill ca ves and turn God loving girls into witches.

He say (…) fallen from grace and that (…) end until he is gone.

(…)  s go ng to k ll (…)

(This page was stained with bloody water. I can barely read it. The next five are entirely illegible.)

August 17

We buried Sven today. I’ve told the town there was an accident. That the cow had kicked him in the head, that he was killed instantly.

I wish I could say it was instant.

Stefan’s missing. It still rains toads at night. Alva’s gone too, left last night.

Albert’s still here. He’s all I have left. God have mercy on him please.

August 18

Stefan came back last night. He says he wants to stay but he knows I won’t let him.

We both know now his presence brings hatred and death, and although he might not have born ill will to the family who took him in, he could not stop his curse.

I kissed him through the window before I told him if he didn’t get off my property I’d shoot him in the head. He laughed at that.

We both know who’d win a fight. I’m so sorry Sven. I should have listened to you.

All my animals are dead, minus that damned billy goat. Sven is dead. My daughter’s ran into the forest to dance with the witches and marry the Devil. All I have left in this world is Albert. And tomorrow we’re packing up what little we have and getting out of here, so Stefan won’t be able to find us.

I don’t know if I can turn Stefan away again. I’m not strong enough.