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Rainy Night by Deannster via Photopin. cc

She sits hunched over a collapsing card table, gray hair stuck to her face in the rain.  Night has fallen and she gleams orange in the lamp light in front of the bar-turned-evangelical-church.  A series of spasms sends her body into contortions. 

“Are you okay?”

“Well, my stomach hurts a little.”

A white SUV rolls through the stop sign, its passengers staring as she writhes.

“I’m trying to get money for my stomach medicine.”

Her old jewelry is sitting on the table in front of her, partially covered with plastic. With the wind and the rain, everything is soaked.  Her cardboard sign is illegible and it is falling apart.  Her coffee can holds more rain than money.

“How much do you need?”

“Ten.  Then I can get my pills tomorrow.”

“If I bring it, do you promise to come in off the street?”

“Yes.  Yes.  Yes.”

A red BMW passes us without slowing down.  She shudders.

“Give me ten minutes.  I’ll be back.”

“Thank you.  Thank you.”

Handing her a ten doesn’t seem like enough.

“Do you need to go to the doctor?”

“I’ll be okay.”

I pause and think as a crowd from the VFW rushes past us. They pretend not to see us.

She looks so cold. 

“Can I bring you some coffee, maybe?”

She beams.

“I’d like that.”

“Okay, ten minutes.  I’ll be back.  Promise.”

Her smile dissolves into a shudder.

“What’s your name?”

“Emily.”

“Emily.  Can I take you to the doctor?  Please?”

“I’ll be okay.”

Another SUV passes.  She winces.

I return with an envelope and coffee. 

“Will this keep you out of the rain tomorrow?”

She cries.

Emily lives over the church.  Carrying her table and jewelry inside, I trip in the grass in the dark in the rain. 

She apologizes.

The vehicles keep passing.

rainy street roar –
somebody’s daughter
shivers

Carpe Diem
Roar of the Midway

roar of the midway—
the toddler’s balloon
rises in moonlight

© Michael Dylan Welch

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Image: Rainy Night by Deannster via Photopin.

71 thoughts on “somebody’s daughter

  1. In my job I sometimes read about corrupt profiteering in the pharmaceutical industry, mainly, it has to be said, in the US – and you do seriously wonder how people manage to justify to themselves parasiting off other people’s agony. It’s just mind boggling.

    Anyway – I’m so impressed with how you manage to keep that clear-eyed restraint in your writing here, not to let the emotions you felt at the time simply run away with the piece. Also, so impressed with you personally, Jen 🙂

    Like

    • As I ponder my imminent lack of insurance – and the way my insurance company denied the latest stomach medicine – the song “there but for fortune” comes to mind. How heartless Big Pharma is!!!!! Seeing her suffering, how could I turn away. It was heartbreaking.

      I’m so glad the piece worked. With “Owen” and with Emily I struggled with how to present their stories.

      Thanks Blake 🙂
      [beaming]

      Like

  2. Pingback: Morning Waka and Haiku – Storm – October 5, 2015 | Bastet and Sekhmet's Library

  3. What a moving story Jen … and you’ve communicated the emotion packed feel so very well – and the indifference of those passing people in their big cars and their solid middle class integrity … I admit to a lump in my throat. I’m just happy you were able to help her, if only for one evening.

    Like

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