I started a short story last Sunday that is based on true tales passed down from my mom and older sister. The story takes place during a time when the full raging effects of the Great Depression had displaced so many.
We met Walter and Ella Smith, who are living with their three children in a small wood-frame house that Walter built for $50 out of used lumber and bent nails. But, it was a sight better than the tent they’d occupied before the drafty tiny house. When we left them, Walter had gone off to work at the gas station and Ella had been summoned from hanging clothes on the line by her oldest daughter. The baby, Charlie, was bleeding. We’ll rejoin them now and see what has happened.
Ella burst through the door and gasped when she saw Charlie sitting in the middle of the floor wailing with blood running from his mouth.
“Jane, what happened?”
The eight-year-old girl sobbed. “I don’t know, Mama. Me and Celie were playing and he started crying.”
Ella scooped up the crying baby and examined his mouth. Tiny shards of glass could be seen.
A look back at the floor revealed more glass.
She grabbed a quilt off the bed and wrapped it around him. “Jane and Celie, get your shoes on quick! We’ve got to go get help.”
Running like the devil chased her, Ella flew down the hill with the two girls close behind.
She banged on the door of her nearest neighbor.
A white-haired man opened the door. “What in tarnation is wrong, Ella?”
“Please, help me, Mr. Fagan, I’ve gotta get my baby to the doctor. He’s bleeding awful bad.” She swiped at the tears streaming down her face. “And he has glass in his mouth.”
The old man moved like cold molasses. “Well, then. Let me get my coat and I’ll drive you to Doc Davis’s.”
“Thank you, sir. But, can we hurry?” She attempted to soothe the squalling baby in her arms.
Panic gripped her heart tight, like a vise around a ripe melon. She feared it might explode from the pressure. Guilt overtook the fear and she chastised herself for not taking the younguns outside with her. It’s just that it was so cold.
Mr. Fagan hobbled out to the rusted 1934 Chevy coupe and groaned when he slid behind the wheel.
Ella wasted no time getting the girls into the car before joining them on the narrow seat.
“Sh,” she rocked the crying baby. “Can we hurry, Mr. Fagan? I’m so scared.”
The old man ran a gnarled hand through his white hair and started the engine. “Don’t reckin I ever heard of a baby eatin’ glass before.”
“Me neither,” Ella managed.
“Where’s Walter?” The old man asked.
“Working at the station today. Can you stop by there on your way home, and let him know?”
The old man nodded and pulled to a stop in front of the corner building where the doctor’s shingle hung.
Ella sprang from the car. “Jane, hold your sister’s hand.” They rushed inside the doctor’s office.