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Creative Nonfiction

Windows of Life

Susan W. Hudson

The train is not moving, I am. It’s like a magic carpet ride. I am facing the window. The floor beneath me is moving forward, passing window after window.  My feet are somehow fastened to the floor.

The view out the window is of lovely countryside: trees, hills, ponds, flowers, and cows.  The floor slows and the window discloses a different view. 

It is a window into a small town post World War II hospital nursery. The lighting is dim, though it is a sunny morning. A short, small, handsome, blue-eyed man is there searching for the boy he so desperately wants.

There she is, swaddled in pink with a wrist band made of beads spelling his last name. She is their third and last girl. She is beautiful. She is not pink like the other babies. Her skin has a bit of an olive glow, inherited from her mother’s father.

The man lets out a deep sigh and ruminates.

The first girl had come with the woman into their marriage. The second had come about a years after they married. Then the war came. He went and did his duty. He came home emotionally and physically broken. He and his four brothers had managed to gather together enough money to buy a few plots of land. They divided them up, and he started building a house from the ground up. The basement was soon set and this is where they lived and where they would take their newborn baby girl.

The floor moves me forward. The window is from the little girl’s childhood home. She’s  three or four years old. She is still cute as a button with her black hair still thick but growing a little more toward brown. She’s crying. She cried a lot. She is looking across the holler to the home of her aunt, uncle and cousins. She gathers up several pairs of underpants (step-ins as her mother calls them). She tucks them under her arms and sneaks out. Like Hansel and Gretel, she leaves a visible white trail and is easily retrieved by her parents - snotty-nosed from crying and a spanking. They do not know yet that she is anemic.

The floor moves me past several windows and I get glimpses into the little girl’s rough and tumble childhood. She is a barefoot girl, on her own and fending for herself most of the time.

The floor moves a little forward, then stops again. The little girl is watching the world go by as she struggles to sit still on the horrible yellow/orange bus for miles and miles to get to a school.  She doesn’t like school; it squelches her  instincts to be outside and free. 

The little girl is in third grade. She raises her hand and asks to be excused. With a nod from the teacher, she bolts out the door and down the hallway. She does not go to the bathroom; she heads for the huge window at the end of the hall. She stands and smiles as she watches the trees blowing in the breeze. She gets a glimpse of a few finches, a few wrens, and a cardinal couple who have homes high in the trees. She hears the tiny families squabbling loudly with each other over territory. She looks longingly at the heavy headed yellow daffodils, the blazing red and pink azaleas and the big world outside. She pulls herself away and goes back to the stuffy classroom and the smell of sweaty children. She hears, not song birds, but white chalk screeching on the blackboard. She looks at her teacher. The teacher is young and beautiful. But mostly the girl daydreams about the joys of nature and the freedom that lies just past the walls of the old school building.

With a little jerk, the floor moves me forward again; I don’t go far this time. The little girl is now a teenager. She is standing in the living room of her childhood home wearing her red and grey cheerleading suit. She is holding a dozen long-stemmed red roses. A crown adorns her head. Her mom is working third shift; her daddy gets out of bed and pads to the bathroom. When he sees her, he asks, “Who won?”  She doesn’t know if he means the football game or homecoming queen. She doesn’t answer. She heads upstairs to go to bed, but probably not to sleep. Her daddy goes back to bed.

The next window is also a hospital nursery window. The protocol is the same. The mom sees her baby, brought to her by nurses, twice a day. The father is forbidden except through the window. 

The pretty little baby girl is almost an adult. The tall man standing outside the window is her husband. Beside him stands the small, blue-eyed man and the brown-eyed woman who gave birth to her.

Yes, he is looking at his newborn son, also olive skinned and sporting a head full of black hair. The little 100 pound girl is in her hospital bed, healing from a difficult pregnancy and a very difficult delivery.

The last stop is heavenly. The girl is a middle-aged woman now. She finally finds her calling in life. She is a volunteer dog walker at her local animal shelter.  She saves many dogs just by being compassionate and caring. She catches many things that the beleaguered staff sometimes misses. She always follows the proper procedures and obeys all the rules. She thinks she loves them all equally until one day “the one” stops her heart.

A small black and white adult girl, some kind of mix (terrier/beagle/dachshund) jumped constantly and barked constantly. The girl fell in love and ultimately brought that baby home to be her own.

The floor stops moving. The window shows this beautiful little dog inside and the girl walking up to the whole window storm door. 

The dog is panting, wagging her tail and salivating. The girl has only been gone ten minutes, but her precious dog saw it as days. Unconditional love comes to those who wait.

June 11, 2021 23:25

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