Two Simple Words, Part 2

Fiction By Jackie West // 7/13/2011


The school year arrived two weeks later, and Autumn again took up her studies of history, math, handwriting, grammar, health, and Bible memorization. She looked forward to March, when the baby would be born, and helped her mother with many things around the house. She celebrated her fourteenth birthday in mid-September.

September fairly flew by for Autumn. She was excited to see the baby growing inside of her mother, and was even more excited when her parents announced that they had scheduled an ultrasound appointment in mid October, just a week before Autumn’s birthday, to check on the baby’s growth.

Mr. Harrison escorted his wife into the ultrasound room, with Autumn trailing eagerly behind. While they got set up, she wandered around the room, looking at all the ultrasound pictures that were hanging on the walls.

“Autumn, come sit down,” her father said after a few moments, and she obeyed.

Autumn stared at the screen, fascinated as the midwife performing the ultrasound started pointing things out.

“There’s two little feet,” she said, moving her finger to one corner of the picture. “Oh, and see? There’s another foot!”

“We have a three-footed baby?” Mr. Harrison asked, half-jokingly.

“It looks like you might have twins,” the midwife said, moving the ultrasonic device some more over Mrs. Harrison’s stomach. “There are two babies so far that I can see. “

Autumn gaped. “Twins?” she asked in amazement. “I’m going to have two siblings?”

“Sure looks like it.” The midwife was silent for a moment.

“That’s what it looks like,” the midwife replied. She continued the ultrasound, and the four of them lapsed into silence.

Until the midwife murmured, “Oh, no, the doctor needs to come.”

“What’s going on?” Mr. Harrison asked, but the midwife didn’t hear him and turned to press a button, calling a fellow midwife to summon the head doctor.

He came quickly, and he and the present midwife bent close to the screen, whispering in low voices that the Harrisons couldn’t hear.

He finally turned to them. “The midwife has found that something is wrong with the babies.”

Autumn’s heart sank.

“It appears that they have some kind of heart defect that are possibly fatal-they may die before they are born.”

Autumn was almost ready to cry. She couldn’t believe her ears. Had all this looking forward to meeting her siblings come to nothing?

“Now, if they do survive,” the doctor was saying, “they will be hospitalized for several months and will have to go through surgery as toddlers.”

The Harrisons nodded mutely.

The doctor continued. “I would call you lucky if they did survive to birth, since not many children with this heart defect live to see the light of day.”

Autumn was downcast. She wanted siblings so badly and now she might not see the siblings that she had hoped so long for.

“You will have to come back for frequent appointments to keep a close eye on the babies and their heart defects.”

“They’re not defective,” Mr. Harrison said firmly. “God just created them the way they are. They’re special, just like every other human being.”

The doctor shrugged before giving the midwife some final instructions and leaving the room.

An appointment was set up for the following week, and the Harrisons departed. They said nothing on the way home, and at their house, Autumn went straight to her bedroom and sat on her bed.

“Why?” she burst out. “Why did you have to make them that way, God? It’s not fair! Why should I be the one with the defective siblings?” She threw herself facedown and started sobbing. “Why? It’s just…not….fair!”

The rest of the day dragged by for Autumn. She stayed in her room a great deal of the time, crying. Her mother spent most of it in bed, while her father had work to do at his office.

She worked at her school slowly and made lunch and dinner by herself for her and her mother.

When Melody came over later that day, Autumn told her the news and started crying again. Melody was quick to comfort her and assure her that everything would be alright. Autumn said the exact opposite, but she calmed down at her friend’s reassurance.

“Melody,” Autumn said, wiping the last of her tears from her eyes, “would you like to help me bake cookies? I need to do something to get my mind off of the babies.”

“Sure,” Melody agreed quickly.

They headed to the kitchen and set to work.

“Have you been doing any writing lately?” Melody wondered as she cracked some eggs into a bowl.

“Not really. I’ve been so busy with school and helping around the house that my manuscript is collecting dust in my desk.”

Melody smiled. “Maybe I can help out around your house so that you can write more. You sent me only up to chapter 8 and left me hanging and desperately wanting to find out more. I have to find out what happens to Jamie!”

Autumn gave her a small smile in return. “Maybe Mom would agree to your helping out. I’ve been getting so much inspiration lately and too little time to actually put it all in the story.”

“I had one question,” Melody said. “You know the part where Jamie is running away from the lynx and it attacked her? “

Autumn nodded.

“Well, it didn’t make much sense to me that she was able to fight back despite the fact that she had been running away from her master for several days and hadn’t been able to eat much.”

“I realized that after I wrote it, but I haven’t been able to change it-because of the lack of time, as I mentioned earlier.”

“Yes.” Melody nodded.

“When the cookies are in the oven, I have to vacuum the living room, and maybe then I’ll get my story and we’ll start editing. Does that sound okay?”

“Sure does.”

They sped up their making and baking, and when the cookies were in the oven and the living room was vacuumed, they sat down at the kitchen table together.

They took turns reading through the first chapter.

“Okay,” Melody said when they had finished, “let’s start at this part midway down the first page, where Jamie is working in the kitchen of her master. This is one of the only parts of the story where she snaps angrily at someone. Now I realize she’s bound to be angry at times, but most of the time she seems to be amiable, helpful and happy despite her bad circumstances.”

“Hmm, you’re right,” Autumn agreed, taking out her red pen and scribbling for a moment. “But, this is the beginning of the story, and the readers don’t know her very well yet. I suppose I could make things so that she tries not to get angry, but she struggles with it sometimes and occasionally lets it loose. Is that alright?”

“That’s a good idea,” Melody said as she moved on. “And the part right after she leaves the kitchens, where her brother…”

Two hours flew by quickly as they went over the first several chapters of the story and tended the cookies.

Finally, Melody stood up, saying, “I would like to stay and help out some more, but…Mom only let me come for a few hours. She needs me to get dinner ready because she’s feeling sick and has been in bed all day, and even though Dad doesn’t have a job and is home, he’s a terrible cook.”

“Maybe I can come over for a few hours sometime to help out,” Autumn said, grinning. “You’ve helped us out way too much not to be repaid.”

“Don’t feel like you have to.” Melody shrugged. “I just like hanging out and helping you because you’re my friend.” She hugged Autumn.

“I’m your friend too!” Autumn protested.

Melody only grinned as she headed out the front door. “I’ll see you later, Autumn.”

“Bye!” Autumn called after her, smiling as she hurried to the kitchen to clean up from the cookie baking.

Her mother came down from resting and smelled the delicious chocolate chip cookies that had been in the works.

“You’ve been busy, I can tell,” she said as she entered the kitchen.

Autumn looked up from filling the sink with soapy water. “Melody came over, and we baked cookies and worked on my story together. I also vacuumed the living room like you asked me too.”

“Thanks so much, dear.” Mrs. Harrison smiled and kissed her daughter’s head. “Would you like to pick our main dish for the evening meal?”

Autumn looked up eagerly. “Really? Sure!”

Working together, mother and daughter soon had the kitchen sparkling, two bread pans of meatloaf in the oven, and a pot of peas and beans cooking over the stovetop. Then they settled down with cups of hot cocoa and cookies.

“Autumn,” her mother began, “I wanted to thank you for being such a big help while I’ve had to be in bed and for being able to keep up with your schoolwork too.”

Autumn blushed and nodded.

Mrs. Harrison smiled. “I know I can depend on you to help as I get farther along, right?”

Autumn nodded vigorously. “And with Melody so enthusiastic to help, we could give the house a good ‘spring cleaning’ every month,” she added, grinning.

Mrs. Harrison rolled her eyes skyward. “Good gracious, I’m not that picky about my house being so clean!”

“I’m joking, Mom,” Autumn replied.

They sat quietly for awhile and sipped their cocoa thoughtfully.

“Well, your father will be home in an hour or so,” Mrs. Harrison said, starting to rise. “I really should check on the meatloaf so we can eat as soon as he is back…”

Autumn leapt to her feet. “Stay here and stay seated, Mom. I’ll go check on the meal.”

She was so quick to do so that she was back in less than a minute. “Isn’t there laundry to do?” she asked eagerly. “May I watch a movie while I do it?”

“Yes, and yes,” Mrs. Harrison said, nodding, and Autumn dashed off again.

Soon they were sitting together in the living room, folding laundry diligently and watching the first episode of Star Wars.

“Well, well, I see we have the worst Star Wars nuts in the world here,” Mr. Harrison said, grinning as he set down his laptop bag and briefcase after quietly entering the room.

Autumn turned and fake glared at him. “We are not Star Wars nuts,” she said, almost indignantly, as she paused the movie. “We just like watching it occasionally.”

“Jared, stop teasing,” Mrs. Harrison said as she got to her feet.

He was at her side in a flash. “Are you alright, darling? You should probably sit back down.”

Mrs. Harrison looked at Autumn and rolled her eyes. Autumn giggled.

“After that doctor’s visit, I’m more than a little worried about your wellbeing, sweetheart,” Mr. Harrison replied. “It’s genuine concern.”

“I feel fine after my long rest and a snack,” replied his wife.

“Just tell me if you need anything,” he said. “Don’t hide anything from me.”

“I don’t think I’d be able to,” Mrs. Harrison answered, her voice tinted with amusement.

“Don’t do it anyways,” he insisted.

“Alright,” she complied, smiling and shaking her head.

“Can we eat while we finish the movie?” Autumn asked eagerly, impatient to reach the best part.

Mr. Harrison guided his wife back to her seat. “Of course. What are we having?”

“Meatloaf and beans with peas,” Autumn replied, bouncing up from her perch on the couch. “I’ll set up the coffee table with the food.”

“Will do.” Mr. Harrison followed her to the kitchen. “I’ll arrange the dishes.”

In a matter of minutes, the coffee table was arranged and Mr. Harrison prayed before they began eating and continuing their movie.

When it was finished, Autumn stood, stretched, and observed, “Funny how I know what happens at the end, yet I’m always held in suspense when Maul fights Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon.”

“Some movies are just like that.” Mr. Harrison got to his feet and starting collecting dirty dishes. “Should Autumn and I do the dishes, dearest?” he queried, turning to his wife, who smiled.

“If you want to, Jared, but if you don’t really want to, I think I’m quite capable of-“

“No!” He shook his head vigorously. “We’ll do it. I’m used to doing dishes anyway and I don’t mind doing it.”

“If you say so.” She settled deeper into the couch and closed her eyes.

When they had settled into their dishwashing, Mr. Harrison turned to Autumn. “It’s amazing how well you’ve been doing in school with having to help your mother out around the house more than usual.”

Autumn smiled. “Melody’s helped out quite a bit too. Her dad lost his job, so he’s home to tend her brother and mother, though she has to be there to cook meals because he-doesn’t do a very good job.”

Mr. Harrison chuckled. “I used to have that problem when I married your mother. When she was expecting you and had to rest often, I worked from home and cooked for both of us, though when I brought her meals, she asked for crackers and tea, or something like that, instead.”

Autumn giggled. “So, how did you get better?”

“Well, she went on a women’s retreat and sent her parents and her brother and his family to live with me. Her brother, Matthew, had worked as a chef in Europe and was willing to teach me the proper way to cook.”

“So for two weeks, you spent your life in the kitchen, learning how to cook and not poison people at the same time,” Autumn finished.

He nodded. “That is correct. And when my lessons were over, I could cook much better than I had been able to before.”

“But you have yet to learn how to broil steak right!” Mrs. Harrison called from the living room.

Mr. Harrison yelled back, “I can broil it fine, Stacey, just not well enough for Your Majesty’s refined tastes!”

“Jared! I don’t have refined tastes!”

“I’m kidding, honey! They’re just much more refined than mine are!”

“I was more willing to eat canned octopus than you were!” Mrs. Harrison called back.

“You did that on a dare!” Mr. Harrison answered. “You did that just to prove to Matthew that you could! You didn’t like them in the least!”

There was silence, and then Mrs. Harrison replied, “That’s true, but I still did it, and you didn’t,” in a slightly quieter tone.

“I never did tell you about the time that I ate ten grasshoppers and I wasn’t even on a dare, did I?” Mr. Harrison asked.

There was a pause, and then Mrs. Harrison almost shrieked, “You did what?”

“I ate ten grasshoppers because I was lost in the wilderness and almost starving to death.”

“I almost don’t believe you,” came the reply.

Autumn tried to contain her laughter as she vigorously scrubbed at a bread pan, but her amusement came out in the form of a snicker.

Mr. Harrison sighed and turned back to his work. “You don’t have to believe me, but it did happen.”

Autumn shook with not very well contained laughter.

Wow, it’s amazing how much they love each other, and how much they love to tease each other! she thought. I’m so glad that they’re my parents.

Mr. Harrison focused on his dishes again. “Well, it’s true,” he muttered to Autumn.

Autumn grinned and shook her head. “You guys just love teasing each other.”

“When we were friends in high school, we teased each other to death, and then we got married so that we could keep teasing each other,” Mr. Harrison explained in a low tone.

“I couldn’t tell,” Autumn murmured back.

They worked in silence until they were finished, and then they settled back in the living room with cookies and hot chocolate, and also coffee for Mr. Harrison.

“So, honey, how was your day at work?” Mrs. Harrison asked, sipping from her mug.

“Well, after the appointment, I was so worried that I drank a whole lot more coffee than usual,” Mr. Harrison explained. “It’s more or less my go-to when I’m worried about something.”

“God should be your go-to,” his wife said gently. “I tend to get too worried over things, and when I do, I forget that God is there to take care of us, comfort us, and lead us through our worries. He just wants us to trust in him.”

He nodded as he took in the gentle reproof. “You’re right. I forget that a lot, too.”

“Well, we all need the practice,” Mrs. Harrison said, taking another cookie off of the cookie plate. “I suggest we start now.”

Autumn looked at her lap as she thought about her reaction to having disabled siblings. She still felt anger toward God for causing them to be sick, and though she knew her mother was right, the anger rose up inside her again, although she did not show it.

“Why did God allow the babies to be sick?” she asked. “It doesn’t seem fair. I’ve hoped to be a big sister all my life, and now three of my siblings are going to have problems that could kill them!”

“I know how you feel, Autumn,” her mother said softly. “My mother became pregnant with twins when I was ten years old. The doctors were convinced that something was wrong with one of the twins, and that twin was miscarried just a few months into her pregnancy, so that only one baby was born. I thought it was unfair that I couldn’t have two more younger siblings, and I was unbelievably angry at God. My mother told me that God wants what is best for his children and that he had a reason for letting this twin die.”

Autumn nodded, but she couldn’t let go of the boiling anger that was slowly building inside of her.

“Were you in bed all day?” Mr. Harrison asked his wife.

She nodded. “I set out some housework for Autumn to do, aside from her schoolwork, and Melody came over in the afternoon and helped her with cookies.”

Mr. Harrison nodded. “And did you finish all that work?” he asked, turning to Autumn.

She nodded vigorously. “Yes. It wasn’t too hard.”

“Good. She’s been a good help this school year, hasn’t she?” He turned back to Mrs. Harrison.

“Yes, she has, and she’s been able to keep up with her work, despite being in eighth grade,” she replied, smiling. “That’s earned her extra computer time.”

“Understandably,” he said as he bit into a third cookie. “That’s what we promised. At this rate, she’ll be able to go on the computer whenever she wants to by the end of the year.

Autumn smiled. I’m glad that I’ve learned to be so responsible, she thought to herself.

“Well,” said Mr. Harrison, breaking through her thoughts, “we should probably head to bed. It’s getting close to nine already.”

Autumn helped him clean up from their snack and then they went to their respective bedrooms.

Autumn quickly changed into pajamas and brushed her teeth and hair before slipping under her cool, relaxing covers.

Her thoughts quickly and unfortunately turned to the babies her mother was expecting and the potentially fatal health problem that they had. The angry thoughts that had cooled down somewhat flared up again, and once more she started crying.

Her eyes were soon tired, red, and sore, and it wasn’t long before they closed completely and she drifted off into a deep, dreamless sleep.



Well done!

 I can't believe I didn't start reading this sooner. I think you should be a monthly writer: you're really good! My heart just sank into my toes when they found out the babies had heart defects... I just had a terrible feeling from the first chapter that something would be wrong :(
I'm off to read the rest of the chapters that are up. Please don't stop writing this!

Laura Elizabeth | Thu, 07/21/2011

The best stories are those that are focused, unassuming, and self-confident enough to trust the reader to figure things out. --


 Thanks! I do want to be a monthly writer, but James was busy with other people who wanted to be monthly writers. Maybe next year everything will work out.

Jackie West | Thu, 07/21/2011

I had to

I had to do some big editing after my mom read the story.....I might email you about it.

Jackie West | Thu, 07/21/2011


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