This is part of a continuing story, which you can catch up on here or at the link at the top of the page, under A New Beginning.
Want to read the first part of Blanche’s story? Find A Story to Tell on Kindle and/or Kindle Unlimited.
I had some “complaints” (notice the teasing quotes) last week that people would have to wait a week to read the cliffhanger from last week so I moved it up a day. I actually had two complaints because I really only have two people reading the story. Hahaha! Or at least two people commenting (which is NOT a complaint by me, just explaining it’s not like the complaints came in droves or that they were real complaints. Should I stop over-explaining now? Okay. I shall.)
Also, guess what! I’m glad that I rewrite and edit my books once I share them in chapters on my blog because I have been using the wrong name for one of my characters. Blanche’s mother-in-law is Marion, not Marjorie! Yikes! So sorry Marion! First, she had a horrible life with a horrible husband and son, and now her story is being told incorrectly because the author is messing up her name.
Check back tomorrow for Chapter 14 of the story.
I had been so drugged when Jackson was born, I couldn’t remember what the doctor had done to make him cry. Or did he just cry by himself? I wracked my brain then remembered a delivery scene in a book I’d read and quickly turned the baby on her back, clearing mucous from her nose and mouth with my fingers and then flipped her again so her chest was against my palm as I smacked her back firmly.
I smacked her again, a little harder this time, as Emmy cried.
I was beginning to sob now, terrified.
“Oh Jesus, please let this baby breathe.”
I rubbed the baby’s back, feeling her solid against my hand and closed my eyes, slapping her hard again.
The sudden gasp that came from the tiny form after the third slap, tiny arms jerking out to her sides, sent relief rushing through me.
“Oh, Jesus! Thank you!”
Little Faith’s scream was the best sound I’d ever heard.
I laid her against Emmy’s chest and pulled my coat off, laying it across both of them. Tears streamed down Emmy’s face as she held Faith close to her.
The wind whipped against the car and snow pelted the windshield and windows. Looking on either side of us I could only see white. I knew I wouldn’t be able to see the road even if I had been able to stop my legs and hands from shaking.
I turned the heat up and looked in the backseat for the blanket I knew Daddy kept there.
“I was a Boy Scout,” he’d told me when I had teased him one time about the blankets and other supplies he had in the car. “You know their motto -”
“Yes, Daddy. Always be prepared.”
This was one time I was glad Daddy was prepared. I tightened the blanket around Emmy and Faith and then reached over and turned the radio on. Elvis crooned over the speakers.
“We should at least have some music while we wait to see if this snow slows down,” I said.
Emmy smiled, tears in her eyes as she watched Faith root for her first meal outside the womb. “We did it, Blanche. She’s here!”
I stroked Emmy’s hair and smiled down at Faith snuggled against her. I hoped the gas lasted until the snow slowed down and I could safely pull onto the road again. I should have listened to Mama about the snowstorm. Emmy and I should have waited to go to the movies another night. I should have known she would be right. It seemed like Mama was always right and I knew I needed to start tuning myself into my own intuition if I was going to be as instinctual as she always seemed to be.
Emmy laid her head back against the door and smiled weakly as we listened to the next song by a new group from England called The Beatles.
“Such a weird name for a band,” Emmy laughed. “What do you think of their music?”
“I actually like them,” I said. “Edith is all about Elvis still, but I love I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
Emmy looked out the windshield as snow began to cover it. I knew we were both trying to keep our minds from being filled with worry.”
“Did you see on the news when they came into JFK?” she asked. “Can you believe how stupid those girls acted? I can’t imagine acting so stupid over a bunch of long-haired boys, I don’t care how good their music is.”
I laughed. “As someone who acted stupid over a boy when she was young, I guess I can’t say much. But. . .that was a little ridiculous.”
After another five minutes I could see the road slightly between the snowflakes. I didn’t want to wait much longer; I knew Emmy and Faith should be at the hospital and the umbilical cord still needed to be cut. Keeping with his “Always Be Prepared” motto, I knew Daddy had a knife in the glove compartment, but the lack of sanitation kept me from trying it.
“We’re only about ten minutes away. I’m going to try to get back on the road.”
“Are you sure it’s safe?” Emmy asked nervously.
“The road is definitely covered, but I don’t think it was cold enough before for the road to have been frozen underneath. I need to get you to the hospital.”
“Okay, then, let’s head out and pray for God to protect us.”
Even as I pulled the car back onto the road I wondered if I was making the right decision. Another couple of inches of snow had fallen on the road in the hour we’d been off the road. I began to sing to try to distract myself from intrusive thoughts about what could happen, remembering a song my Grandma used to sing.
“The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide, A Shelter in the time of storm; Secure whatever ill betide, A Shelter in the time of storm.”
Emmy sang with me. “Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land. A weary land, a weary land; Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land, A Shelter in the time of storm.”
We sang as I drove at 10 miles an hour, hands wrapped tightly around the steering wheel, leaning forward and squinting through the windshield wipers moving fast to keep up with the snow. Emmy sang the next song clearly, her voice soft and angelic. I had forgotten how well she could sing.
“Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.”
A loud explosion interrupted her singing and at the same moment I felt the steering wheel jerk to the right and yank me off the road and into a field full of snow. We both screamed as I gripped the wheel to try to take control back, but it was too late. The car’s front end had slammed into an embankment and what looked like smoke billowed in front of us, obscuring our view.
I slammed the car into park when it hit the embankment and turned toward Emmy to check that she and Faith were okay. Emmy held Faith against her, her eyes wide.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
Emmy nodded but didn’t answer audibly.
“I’ll see what happened,” I said, opening the driver-side door.
Snow pelted me in the face and soaked my hair as I slid and skidded in the slushy snow toward the front of the car. I didn’t need to go far before I saw our problem – a blown front tire. I knew I had no idea how to change a tire, even though Daddy had shown me only a week ago, but I also knew Daddy most likely had a spare in the trunk. I shuffled toward the back of the car, then remembered I’d need a key to unlock the trunk. I shuffled again toward the front of the car and turned off the ignition, sliding out the key before venturing out again to unlock the trunk.
There was a spare tire and a jack right where I thought it would be, but I doubted I’d be able to lift the car with the jack and change a tire with the snow pelting me in the face and piling up around me. Still, I had to try so I kneeled in the snow, glad I was at least wearing jeans and boots, but regretting I hadn’t even brought gloves with me. Apparently, I hadn’t listened to Daddy’s motto as well as I should have over the years.
Ten minutes later I couldn’t feel my fingers and the jack had broke. I climbed back in the car and turned up the heat.
I shook my head. Emmy was nursing Faith and I tightened the blankets around them.
“We’ve got to get you to the hospital. We’re not far away. I think I’m going to walk to see if I can . .”
“No! You can’t leave me, Blanche!”
“Emmy, I have to find a phone to call an ambulance or someone to come help us. We can’t wait much longer.”
Emmy reached out with one hand and clutched my arm. “Stay! Someone will come, I’m sure!”
“I don’t even know how much more gas we have . . .”
“Don’t leave me. I’m so scared, Blanche.”
Emmy was trembling and I was worried that she’d lost too much blood or was dehydrated. Images of Edith collapsing against me flashed in my mind but I refused to imagine the same happening to Emmy. I slid close to her and hugged her against me, looking down at Faith in her arms.
“It’s going to be okay, Emmy. We’re going to make it through this. Someone has to come along soon.”
I hoped we weren’t too far off the road for someone to find us. I leaned my head against Emmy’s shoulder and began to pray.
“Jesus, give Emmy and me your peace right now. Hold us in your arms. Watch over us as we wait for someone to come. We know we are in your watch care.”
The wind howled around us as I began to quietly sing another hymn.
Dusk was upon us and Emmy had drifted to sleep with Faith against her when the roar of a car engine drowned out the wind and the click of sleet on the car windows. Feeling physically drained only moments before a new burst of energy rushed through me as I wiped the condensation from the window and squinted through the falling snow.
Tears of relief stung my eyes at the sight of Jimmy rushing through the snow and ice toward us. Emmy woke as the driver’s side door squeaked open.
“Blanche! Are you two okay?” Jimmy asked, trying to catch his breath, his cheeks flushed red.
“All three of us are doing okay but we could sure use some help getting to the hospital,” I said.
“Three? What – oh my gosh!”
Jimmy cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled against the wind. “They’re here! Bring the blankets! Emmy’s had the baby!”
The rushed footsteps crunching in the snow were almost as welcome of a sound as Faith’s cries had been. I stepped out of the car as Daddy and Judson reached the bottom of the hill.
“You can’t do anything easy, can you, Emmy-lou?” Judson teased as he laid the blankets across her and the baby.
“My middle name is Anne and you know it, Judson Thomas,” Emmy said with a weak smile.
“I’ll get my jack from the back of the truck,” Jimmy said.
Judson gently closed the passenger’s side door and ushered me toward the back of the car where Daddy was standing, ready to roll the spare tire to the front of the car.
“When you two didn’t come home we panicked,” Daddy said. “We panicked even more when the sheriff stopped by looking for Emmy.”
“Looking for Emmy?”
His eyebrows were furrowed with concern as he glanced back at the car and lowered his voice. “Sam’s been shot.”
I gasped and suddenly felt shaky. “Shot? Is he alive?”
“He’s at the hospital,” Jimmy said, taking the jack and wheel wrench from Daddy. “That’s all we’ve been told. We don’t want to upset Emmy, especially now, so I don’t think we should tell her yet. What do you guys think?”
Daddy agreed. “Let’s get the tire on, get some gas in the tank and head to the hospital. When we get there, you go with Emmy, and Judson, Jimmy and I will find out how Sam is.”
I felt tears stinging my eyes, but I blinked them away quickly. I was barely able to manage a nod, as a wave of exhaustion suddenly rushed over me.
Daddy placed his hands gently on each of my shoulders. “We need to be strong for Emmy right now, okay?”
I nodded again and took a deep breath, determined to not let Emmy see the fear or worry gnawing at my insides.
“Go sit in the car and get warmed up,” Daddy said. “Don’t think the worst about Sam yet.”
I sat in the back seat and made sure Emmy and Faith were warm, trying to slow my racing thoughts. Sam had been shot. How bad was it? Was he even alive?
When Daddy and Judson had changed the tire and filled the gas tank with gas from a container in the back of Judson’s truck, Daddy slid into the front seat next to Emmy and smiled reassuringly.
“Alright, little lady. Let’s get you and that baby to the hospital and make sure you’re both okay.”
Emmy smiled weakly. “Thank you, Mr. Robins and I – um – I’m sorry about your upholstery.”
“If you don’t mind, I’d rather not think about that at the moment,” Daddy said, grimacing.