Writing class started again after a months break. Class has taught me many valuable lessons. The primary lesson, I don’t know how to do fiction. I’m not good at making up stories. If I get a prompt that I have no way to relate to, I sit for days trying to make something up and it turns out awful. What I can do, is take those tiny bits of memories and embellish them to fit the prompt. So it is with this story. Most of it’s as true as I can remember but the ending was added to fit the prompt. Today, I’ll share what I’m best at, telling bits of my life.
Are We There Yet?
The house was empty. The furniture and all our belongings had been packed and taken to be shipped to our new home. Even the car was gone. Little Jimmy was getting a bath by the mother’s helper when I walked in to check how much longer it would take.
That’s when the plan started to crumble. How could Margaret not see that Jimmy had spots all over his body? Running into the living room, I announced to my parents, “Jimmy has the measles.” Mom’s face went white and dad rolled his eyes. “Are you sure” they asked? Heck, I was only 9 but I knew measles when I saw them. “Go see for yourself” I shot back.
All I heard was panic coming from the bathroom. Jimmy was whisked from the bathtub, dried and dressed. Mom said no one was to mention measles to anyone. Not one word was to come out of our mouths. They dressed him in a jacket and put a hat with ear flaps on his head. As we sat at the NCO club waiting for the bus to take us to the Frankfort airport, mom gave Jimmy orange juice and said if anyone noticed the rash, he appeared to be allergic to it. They had to make the trip because all our beds and belongings were already gone. No way was she staying behind with 4 kids alone.
Once we arrived in Frankfort, another delay. A problem with the plane seemed to be the next hold up. So we were confined to one hotel room until another flight could be arranged. Finally, we were all on the flight. Jimmy was again dressed in the unseasonably warm leather jacket and cap. Once we were airborne, we couldn’t be left behind. There was some relaxation in the parents. Until…
We waited in New York for our car to come off the boat. More confinement in a hotel room. Finally we were underway and managed to get as far as somewhere in Virginia. It has to happen. Just as Jimmy was starting to get better, the baby came down with the measles too and it made him sick enough to require a doctor. They found an emergency room and the next thing I know, blankets are tacked up all around the back-end of the station wagon. They had to keep the car dark. It also kept out any breath of air. It was late April but with no open windows we were melting in there.
Dad drove until he couldn’t. Mom had just learned to drive and there was no way dad was going to let her get us lost here. Sleep was done at roadside rest stops, then more driving down the entire length of the coast to Georgia. Meals came from a loaf of purchased bread and a package of bologna. Four kids, two of them ill, one hyperactive and one bored to tears was almost too much for anyone. Somewhere in South Carolina, mom started to cry. Her head in her hands, she wailed “aren’t we there yet?” No, we weren’t and it just kept getting hotter.
From my heart to yours,