Thursday, April 28, 2011

Oh Hard Times Come Again No More

Here's where Granny Rose and Sarah last left off:  Gathering Morels

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.


Nancy said...

Oh my goodness, Lisa. I can't imagine being in this situation. Really makes me think about how fortunate we are to have modern conveniences these days. Great story!

Karen said...

No critique necessary, beautifully written!

Unknown said...

OH crap now you have left me wondering... is the baby okay?? ACCKKKK

Unknown said...

The song is perfect! I was hoping and praying through the piece that the baby would be okay!

My Mad World said...

So glad they're back! Now... you gonna keep going with 'em, 'cause I would love to hear the rest of the story!!

Very, very great story!! Love the anticipation you bring with it.

Man, sure glad things have changed a little and we can get to a hospital to have kids now! lol

TexWisGirl said...

Wow, Lisa. This was a powerful one. I was cringing and wanting to run away like Sarah. "the angry painting of birth"...

Anonymous said...

Wow. That really intensified with the song lyrics woven in.

Liz Mays said...

Oh wow, wow, wow. I could feel her pain so acutely. I loved all of it, and the lyrics were so perfectly woven into the story. Beautifully done!

Dawn said...

I so enjoy your stories.....and I am SO wondering just what is going on here:)
Please continue?

Valerie Boersma said...

Absolutely brilliant Lisa! I felt the "fight" all the way through this- with your words and imagery!

Ginny Hartzler said...

Such an intense and gripping story. We love that song and have the version by Syd Straw. A very nice touch to mix it in with your story!!

Tina L. Hook said...

This was fantastic. Both the setting and the dialogue felt rich and authentic.

LBB said...

So intence!! I'm at the edge of my seat!!

Jane said...

Congratulations Lisa, that was very well written,a real page turner! You made the story come alive,Blessings jane

Nezzy (Cow Patty Surprise) said...

Oh wow!!! I too want to know if the baby is OK!!! What a great read this was. Thanks!

God bless ya and have a glorious day sweetie!!! :o)

Shanae Branham said...

Great writing! I'm on the edge of my seat...what happened to the baby?
Oh, the ferret's name is Tavi.

Leontien said...

I'm soooo not ready to have babies!!!


Ixy said...

Vivid phrase - "the angry painting of birth" - love it. Thank God for hospitals and drugs!

Visiting from the red dress club :)

Galit Breen said...

The setting, the lyrics, the descriptions- brought me right there with you.

The words you used developed your characters so strongly. The pace was perfect and your words definitely left me wanting to now more!

My favorite part: "Amelia’s scream, piercing, raping the air."-- holy poignant!

Alison said...

That was beautifully written. You captured the characters' raw emotions so well, I could literally feel them coming off my screen! Great effort.

melissa said...

i don't know what to say

Jenna said...

having given birth four times, this was all too real and evoked a lot of memories for me about hard laboring!!! I love the singing, i love the accents and dialogue, I love the wonderfully vivid descriptiveness in the environment and unspoken interaction, and I love the ending. so well done, thank you for continuing this story!

Jennifer said...

The pacing of this was amazing! And though I normally fine lyrics distracting they really, really worked here.

Loved the kicker twist ending, though I can't imagine that it's going to go over very well with Amelia's husband, and frankly makes me a little scared for her.

Anonymous said...

I was on the edge of my seat! I really appreciated the layers of this piece. The dialogue, the scene was set perfectly, the song reached my ears from the background and I could imagine the children on the porch waiting in fear.

Tiffany said...

I LOVE your writing!! No critique is necessary for this piece of work. I felt like I was right there. Your words drew me in.

VictoriaKP said...

That was amazing. The line about her screams "raping the air" was perfect. I wanted to keep reading!

tipper said...

Love it loved it! I'm like the others I want to know what happens now!!!! You made me feel like I was trying to help get that baby out and like I was on the porch singing and trying not to think about what was going on in there : )

Thank you for the shout out!

CDG @ Move Over Mary Poppins! said...

I love your take on fighting and this piece vibrates with the battle between breech and midwife.

The song lyrics woven in give it a really film-like quality throughout, and the twist at the end got a raised brow and an itchy finger-turning page from this reader.

The Reason You Come said...

That was amazingly told! The phrase "raping the air" was perfect. And I loved the song lyrics inserted into the lines. I loved the whole piece!

When I was a nursing student, I was assigned to birthing centers for poor people, and the centers had no modern conveniences; in other words, there was no anesthesia for the women giving birth. I almost fainted the first time I witnessed it.

{Stephanie}The Drama Mama said...

"Amelia’s scream, piercing, raping the air." WOW, what an image. I LOVE this.

"Blood streaked down both legs, the angry painting of birth." another WOW image!

And the song lyrics inserted throughout really really give the story the right feel. What a powerful fight, what a powerful love, and what a powerful surprise you leave us with at the end.

I can't wait for more!