Catrina bundled the frail infant in the thickest of wool rags she had. She paused often, though she knew she must hurry. She felt weaker than she had just an hour ago. It wouldn’t be long, she knew from watching her mother all those years ago.
Her only comfort was the cold night—it meant Clyde was at the tavern. How she had come to be with such a brute she didn’t know. But desperation and need caused people to make choices they might otherwise not make. It didn’t matter anymore.
A wave of light-headedness passed over Catrina. She must hurry. Catrina brushed her shaking finger over the baby’s pink cheek. She looked into its blue eyes then lifted the bundle to her chest and wrapped her threadbare coat around them both.
In the cold night occasional snowflakes fluttered as Catrina forced one foot before the other. She passed the thin wood shanties, crossed the railroad tracks, and turned the corner to the neat row of brownstones.
She stopped and leaned against a light post. On another day, she would be careful to remain unseen. Tonight, that didn’t seem to matter.
They baby whimpered and she soothed it. Looking down she saw the blood on the snow. It wouldn’t be long. The street with its row of trees moved like a wave.
No, not yet. Catrina took a deep breath and moved forward. Her legs felt heavy and she clung tighter to the bundle so as not to drop it.
Just three more houses. Her gaze fixed on the gate she must reach. One more step. One more step. She leaned against the fence, the porch stairs so far away in her mind. The gate felt heavy and squeaked as she pulled it open.
She pressed on to the porch and front door of the childless house. Catrina kissed the rag that covered her baby’s head. It wouldn’t be long now, maybe only minutes.
The house was dark. She placed the baby on the porch and pressed the door buzzer several times. Inside a light turned on and she heard voices. Good. She looked down at the infant now fussing. She shut her eyes to the dizziness and somehow stumbled to the gate.
Catrina was behind a car when the porch light turned on.
Black spots blurred her vision and she let her legs give way. She heard voices, but their words were jumbled. Darkness crowded around her and then a touch.
“Miss, Miss. Wake up.”
The hands were warm but it didn’t matter.
Somewhere, far off, the infant cried.
More voices, “Preacher, what is it?”
Catrina forced her eyes open. A fuzzy face swayed before her. “Preacher?”
“Yes. Hold on. We’ll get you to the hospital.”
She shook her head. “The…the child…” her eyes closed. She was so tired.
“Yes, we have it—”
Catrina reached for him. “For, your wife.”
“No, we’ll get you to—”
Her hand slipped from him as the darkness filled her mind.
Copyright Ida Smith 2015
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Set in north Idaho, Eleanor and her family are somewhat sheltered from the life-changing effects of the Great Depression. Until the morning the dog would not stop barking.
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