Today’s post is part of a series written in conjunction with the Senior Memoir Writing Workshops taught earlier this year by writing coach and workshop leader Bonny C. Millard. Knoxville Writers’ Guild sponsored the workshops, funded with a grant by the East Tennessee Foundation. This is a fictionalized account of a family story.
by Sophia Bogart
A blast of air fills my lungs like my first breath, I am sweating and my heart is racing. I have just run the great distance from my deep sleep. I find myself sitting upright in the bed, in my right hand I clutch the sleeve of Oscar’s nightshirt.
“Eula! What’s wrong?” Oscar’s waking words.
“I don’t know. Something. I’m going to check the kids.”
I walk through the dark four room plant house. No need to see. I know where to step over the linoleum where it curls on the cool mornings. In the children’s room, I check the crib. Jackie sleeps peacefully. The street light shines through the window, and I see the other three; I can hear them breathing softly. As I pass the bathroom, Oscar takes my hand.
“They’re all fine.” But I still have a sinking feeling, probably just a bad dream.
“Good. Back to bed.”
“No, you go. I’m going to sit up a while.”
“Suit yourself.” He kisses my cheek and squeezes my hand.
I sit in the darkness, even with the gentle rocking of my chair, I am wide awake. At the first sign of daylight, I get up to boil the water for oatmeal. With any luck I can get Jackie fed before the others get out of bed.
When Jimmy, Genella, and Doris Ann are at the table, Oscar comes in dressed for work. “Good morning.” He kisses each child on the top of their uncombed heads.
Oscar kisses me. “Did you get any rest?”
I shake my head. “Stay home today.”
“Eula, you know I can’t do that.” He strokes his gentle hand across my worried forehead. “It was just a bad dream.”
I can’t help but wonder ‘how would I ever feed these children if something happened to him.’
Later in the morning, hanging the freshly washed sheet on the line, a sudden chill ripples down my spine and my blood runs cold. My knees buckle and I slip to the ground breathless.
An unexpected shift in the aluminum billets breaks the chain and the reverse momentum overturns the huge crane, throwing Oscar from his seat. He is nearly thrown clear of the wreckage until a last crash lands the cab of the crane on his left foot. Three men tug at his leg as Oscar screams. The foreman runs over with a long pipe, another grabs a block and together the crew lifts the crane just enough for Oscar to be freed.
The boot hangs from Oscar’s leg as he is carried into the hospital. The boot is full and drips with blood.
I sit down with my sewing basket to let down the hem of Genella’s dress that has gotten too short to be decent. Trying to distract my troubled mind, I hear Oscar’s truck pull up outside. It is hours before his shift ends. I rush to the back door. A stranger gets out of the driver’s side of the truck. I watch from the porch as Oscar pulls himself out of the passenger seat and up onto the crutches.
Sophia Bogart has had an interest in writing for many years and currently is nearing completion of her first novella, The Killing of Jefferies Flats, which is based on family lore. Bogart lives in Maryville.