This story was inspired by Anneli’s challenge to write 300 words about her picture above taken in Montana. I lived in Saskatchewan as a child so this scene is familiar to me.
She pulled the wooden chair over to the wall, climbed up on it and turned on the radio. Hop-Along Cassidy, her favorite show was coming on and with her ear glued to the radio, she wouldn’t miss even one word of it.
Suddenly, her dad ran into the kitchen—without even taking his boots off—calling for her mother. She wanted to ask him to be quiet, but knew better and plastered her ear even harder against the radio speaker.
Her mother came in from the bedroom. “What’s wrong?”
“My wallet. I’ve lost my wallet.” She shivered for the voice coming out of her father’s mouth didn’t sound like him.
“Here,” her mother said, shoving the baby into her arms, and switching off the radio. And then her parents were gone. Scared to get off the chair with the baby in her arms, she stayed where she was. She tried reaching the knob to turn the radio back on, but wasn’t able to hold the baby with just one hand.
From where she stood, she could see out the small porch window. The tractor and harrow stood in the middle of the field and her parents ran around madly, with their heads down as if searching for something.
A very long time later, her mother came in and took the baby from her aching arms. She climbed down from the chair and put it back by the table. Then her father came in. He was crying. She’d never seen him cry before and the great sobs tore at something inside her.
“Forty dollars?” her mother asked.
Her father nodded.
“It was supposed to last us the winter.”
Her father nodded again and sank onto one of the kitchen chairs, staring down at the floor. The silence seemed to drag on forever. They went to bed soon after. Her mother didn’t even cook dinner that night.