Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Child's Voice, fiction

The Child's Voice
By H.A. Handy
Copyright (c) 2006 by H.A. Handy

The house was good and warm which caused Billy to shiver suddenly with realization of how cold he really was. Ritchie went to his rug which was in front of the fireplace which was glowing with ruby embers. Bill deposited his beer close to the corner of the fridge and put his mail on the kitchen table. First things were first, he decided, so turned his attention to the wood box close at hand, and began to put wood onto the glowing embers.

He loved a good warm fire. He didn’t need it, of course, since he had had heat and air installed a couple of years back, which was a lot more economical than the coal stove the house had been heated with for so many years prior. Even then his mom had had him build a fire for her. It made it all feel like home. Cheery.

Emma had also loved the fire. Billy could remember her from when she was about two years old, nothing but a toe headed toddler. She had looked out at the world at the tender age of two with blue eyes so intelligent they almost made him afraid. When she had been diagnosed with Lime Disease at three and the subsequent medical trials the family had faced since then, it seemed amazing, a miracle she had survived year after year. Finally, at the age of four the doctors said they had misdiagnosed the symptoms and what Emma had was really juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, it seemed as if all hope of the beautiful little girl having a normal life had vanished. Already her limbs were trying to draw into unnatural shapes, but Susan and family worked ceaselessly to try and correct that. Emma had been in and out of hospitals constantly with dangerously high fevers for years.

Still, Emma had lived. She had had a wonderful imagination and had indeed begun to live her dream of being a successful writer. When Susan and Parker had fallen victim to kidney failure and Alzheimer’s respectively, Emma returned home to care for them as best she could. It had nearly broken Emma’s heart when they had had to place Parker into a nursing home, but she still stayed with her mother unfailingly until the bitter end. That had been five years ago, but Emma still came in dutifully for her mother’s birthday all the way from Arizona.

The fire was popping and crackling when he finally left memory lane and returned to the present. Outside it was already falling dark. It was time to get supper started, as well as the new book Emma had sent him.

Emma was really good about sending him one of the author’s copies of her books. She sent one to Jimmy as well, but he never sat down to read them. Billy shook his head. Emma loved Jimmy with a loyalty he felt was undeserved. True, Emma was family and Jimmy would do anything for her, but the truth was, Jimmy was more concerned with finding some oxycontin, or OC’s as they were known on the drug market.

Oxycontin had nearly taken out the pot trade in the mountains. They had almost destroyed the young people themselves. According to everyone Billy had talked to who had taken them, snorting an OC or two made you forget about all of your pain and problems, but when you came down you came down hard.

He didn’t want Emma to know the truth about Jimmy. Not yet. It would break her heart and cause her to worry. Billy didn’t want Emma to worry any more than necessary, she had already gone through enough. Losing her parents within a year of each other had almost devastated her beyond any hopes of recovery emotionally. He had seen that the last time she had come in to put flowers on her mom’s grave. Emma’s normally well-groomed hair just hung limp and straight down her back, and her eyes looked haunted and lost. She hadn’t said anything much to him then, so they had just sat side-by-side at the grave where he had put a bench for her, and shared a joynt. When she was beginning to get a little high her smile returned and her eyes didn’t look so distant and empty. As she relaxed, Billy saw the dark circles forming under her eyes from loss of sleep. She was also quite bony, not shapely like she normally was. be continued

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