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Heaven Help Me
Robin Renee Ray
Robin Renee Ray
It started the night blood ran over the moon. The bright red glow coated the earth around the small country town of Hodges, Texas. It was nothing more than a farming community with two cotton gins and a very old cemetery. Seven families called it home, while others claimed it to be a ghost town from the days of covered wagons, and built on the fear of Indian raids. Timothy and Lynn McCormick had inherited their farm from Timothy’s great grandfather and they had moved in the prior spring. Allen McCormick had bought the land after the Civil War, building a large one story ranch house for his new bride. Beth McCormick had fallen ill in the last term of her first pregnancy and died in child birth. The child died moments after. They had only been married a year and a half. Allen remarried, Emma, nine years later and they had four sons and two daughters.
Larry, the eldest of the six siblings was found dead in the barn at the age of sixteen, of unknown causes. Allen Jr. was shot in the back in a saloon fight the following year. He too had just turned sixteen years old. Emma took a hold of the other children, keeping them as close to her apron as she possibly could. Many days she and Allen would argue when it was time to plow the fields or harvest the new growth, due to a reoccurring dream she had had since the night her second to the oldest was killed.
In the dream she couldn’t tell who fell under the blades of the plow, but it was apparent that the male child did not survive. It was the coating of bright red in her mind that woke her from the horrid nightmare.
Mary, the oldest girl and the third child born to them, was two days away from her sixteenth birthday when she fell ill with scarlet fever. It hit like wild fire and she too was dead the night of her birthday. Emma knew something was terribly wrong and tried to get Allen to sell what she referred to as—cursed land. He refused, causing an even greater separation between the two than was already there. Allen began yelling when Emma would beg him not to take her sons out in the fields, telling him about the dream and getting a slap across the face. “Foolish woman, ain’t no such thing as curses. There’ll be no more talk like that in my house.”
“I have three babies left, Allen. Billy turns sixteen this May. How could ya take a chance…”
Allen raised his hand and she stopped talking. “I don’t want the youngin’s to here you talk this crazy talk. Do ya hear me, woman?”
Emma nodded and Allen lowered his open hand. She knew she would never convince Allen to listen to her, even if all he had left was one child. He was a stern man and as stubborn as a jackass.
That May on the twenty third, the family sat around the table having Billy’s birthday breakfast, talking about the many things that had to be done to ready the fields for seed. Allen had borrowed his neighbor’s new plow that was pulled by one of the new gadgets called a motorized tractor. All that sat around the table had heard of the modern wonder for several years, but the McCormick’s were a poor family that struggled year to year, only getting on their feet if the crops yielded a good harvest.
Lynn was taking the dishes out of the boxes when she felt the baby kick. “Timmy!” she yelled. “Hurry, he’s moving.”
She could hear Timothy’s feet pounding on the wood floor. “Is he still kicking?” he asked as he slid around the corner and into the kitchen. “Keep him going.”
Lynn burst out laughing. “He doesn’t exactly do what I say just yet, honey.”
“Where?” Timothy placed his hand under hers on the right side of her swollen abdomen. “Come on Jr., kick dad’s hand.” Then he waited a few minutes before repositioning his hand. “You’ve got to be kidding, this is the third time that he’s moved and I missed it.”
“I’m only five months along, babe. You have plenty of time to feel your little football player. They say there will be times when it feels like he’s running.”
“You think he knows when I put my hand on your belly? I mean, what if he stops moving because he doesn’t like my hand on your belly?”
“You are so silly. Of course he loves it when he knows his dad is close, he just moves when he feels the need. It’s not based on what we want him to do.”
“I know,” he grinned with one side of his mouth. “I just want to be as involved as I can be. And it’s going to take another month to get all of our things unpacked and that means me not being close enough to catch the little dude when he’s active. Either way, you call me when he’s awake and playing football. I will come a running.”
“I will, and I will start supper as soon as I have us some dishes to eat off of. I thought we marked all of the boxes? This one just has the glasses in it.” Lynn stood and was fixing to slide another large box over to the kitchen table.
“Absolutely not,” Timothy jumped up and pulled the heavy box over for her, then made sure the other two were close enough that she didn’t have to try to move them. “You shouldn’t be working so hard, and you know moving this stuff is out of the question.”
“I’m just going to have a baby, sweetie. That doesn’t make women turn into invalids for nine months and before you say it…I know I have to be careful. I was just going to slide the boxes, not manhandle them the way you do.”
“In that case, since you’re not an invalid and all, I want fried chicken and mashed potatoes for supper. By the way, how’s the new refrigerator doing?”
“You mean new to us,” Lynn laughed. “It seems to be working just fine. There is that thing with the smell; I almost threw up cleaning it out.”
“Maybe the last owner had a chopped up rotting corpse in there,” Timothy winked as he walked up and kissed Lynn on the cheek.
“You’re horrible and you need to stop watching those ridiculous horror movies all the time.”
“Yes dear,” he called out as he headed back toward the living room.
“Jr. isn’t going to watch that crap.”
“I can’t hear you.” Timothy was chuckling so loud she could hear him, and she too began to laugh.
Blood curdling screams exploded from the field south of the ranch home and Emma was out the door and running as fast as she could. ‘Please God, don’t let him die,’ she thought as she ran. The screaming stopped and Emma’s heart turned ice cold. She slowed in her plight the moment she saw Allen raising his blood coated fist into the air and drop to his knees. She stopped some ten feet from the borrowed tractor, close enough to see the mangled body of her fourth child under the plows blade. “I told you but you wouldn’t listen,” she spoke in almost a whisper. “I’m leaving with Wendy and Allen Jr. before they fall victim to this no good piece of land.”
Allen got to his feet. “It was an accident, Emma. You can’t take my kids away, I won’t let you.”
“Go in and get the Doc, then hurry back. We can talk after we care for Billy.”
“Emma…?” Allen took a few steps toward her but she turned and walked back toward the house. “Emma, please.”
But Emma never stopped nor did she look back at her deceased child. All she could think of was getting her remaining children as far away from the farm and Allen, as she could in hopes of saving their lives.
To Be Continued…