Sarah had worked up a fine sweat by the time she and Granny Rose climbed the Thompson cabin steps. The past quarter mile they’d heard Amelia’s screams intermittently, shrieking across the air and up through the trees, setting the leaves to trembling on their stems throughout the mountainous woods. Sarah longed to stop, to rest on the porch steps with the four bedraggled Thompson kids, to not walk through the thick wooden door. But Granny Rose plowed right past the four children on the stoop, not even giving them a glance, and Sarah was obliged to follow her inside.
The small cabin was shrouded in darkness and stuffy. Quilts were stuffed across the two small windows, blocking the light. Sarah felt like she would suffocate if she stayed in here for long, but she couldn’t dwell on this, as Granny Rose gestured to the fireplace and said, “Get t’ water boilin’”.
“How long you been ‘is way?” Granny Rose asked, as she lifted the threadbare shirt from Amelia’s belly, and laid her weathered hands across the bulging belly.
“Since day ‘fore yesterday,” Amelia managed to get out, mouth parched and dry.
“And t’ waters?”
“Broke last night,” Amelia gasped with a moan, and then another scream twisted the ends of her words, and rose forcefully from her body, riding through log slats and out into the country. Her back curled then fell.
“He’s fighting me. He won’t come out. He’s NEVER COMING OUT.” Amelia sobbed, fear flowing down her head in rivulets of sweat.
“E’s breech. Gonna have to turn him,” Granny Rose said. “Sarah, bring a dry log over.”
Sarah didn’t want to get close. She willed her feet to move, her arms to bend and scoop a log from the floor. She handed it to Granny Rose, who wrapped it tightly in a blanket and positioned it on the corner of the swollen belly. Suddenly, the door flung open, and Harley walked in. He took one horrified look, tossed Granny Rose’s medicine bag on the bed, and walked straight back out, the door slamming in his wake. Soon, the warbling words of song came drifting in from the porch “Tis the song, the sigh of the weary, Hard times, hard times, come again no more”
Amelia’s scream, piercing, raping the air.
“Many days you have lingered around my cabin door; Oh hard times come again no more”
“Sarah, hold it here. Pressure. All your weight cross’t this log.” Sarah forced her body down on the log as Granny Rose maneuvered the belly with pressure. Amelia screamed and tried to twist away, her eyes glossy and feverish. Sarah backed off in alarm, and the log tumbled to the floor.
“There are frail forms fainting at the door; though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say Oh hard times come again no more”
Granny Rose frowned. She repositioned the log and spat, “Don’t let up ‘til I tell you”. Sarah, trembled, but put her weight back on the log. Once again Granny Rose’s hands moved quickly, ferociously across the belly, and a great wave of shifting was visible across the belly. “Now, Sarah, now let go!”
Sarah stared in alarm at the red and purple streaks that splayed across the Amelia’s sobbing stomach, marks that would turn black, blue, then green with bruising in the days to come.
“Push, Amelia, now push!”
"There’s a drooping maiden who toils her life away, with a worn heart, whose better days are o’er"
Sarah grabbed Amelia's foot and supported it, as shown by Granny Rose. Blood streaked down both legs, the angry painting of birth. Amelia curled her body, tucked her head, and pushed with a groan.
"Though her voice would be merry, ‘tis sighing all the day"
Again. Curled, tucked, groaning. A head, bloody and hairless, emerging. Sarah’s body spun, and she tried to take deep breaths, to stay upright.
"Oh hard times come again no more"
A body, slithering into the hands of Granny Rose. And as the furious cry of puckered lips erupted from the infant’s open mouth, Sarah stared in alarm. The baby, this newborn Thompson boy, was blacker than the blackest coal from the mines.
The prompt this week from The Red Dress Club: This week, we want fightin' words.
Write a piece about a fight. What happened? Why? Who "won"? What were the repercussions?
Show us. Use emotion. Description. If it's a fist fight, what did it feel like to hit someone - or be hit? What does it feel like to be screamed at - or get the silent treatment?
Also, special thanks to Tipper from The Blind Pig and the Acorn, a wonderful blog about Appalachia. She helped me find the right song for my piece (and I was even able to listen to the song on her blog, through the music player she has on her side bar. If you're interested, it's song #74 I believe).
Critique is welcomed.