On that freezing cold night so long ago, all he said was, “Git yore stuff on! Ah’m goin’ ta town.
Ya’ll git on that fence and wait there ‘til I gits back; an’ don’ ya dare move an inch!”
His breath reeked of liquor. Gracie was too small to balance atop of the wooden fence post, so Pa just “hung” her there by her coat so she wouldn’t fall off. I wasn’t sure what to think or do. All I knew was that it was getting colder by the minute. So, we waited; thought he was probably in town drinking some more and would be even meaner when he came back. I shivered again when I remembered he locked the door. We couldn’t even get back in the shack. What was he thinking?
It had only been a few weeks since Mama left us. Pa had lined us up on the fence that night too. It was an awful night. One by one, he made us perch on our post. The shack was way too crowded as it was. Guess he figured the kids wouldn’t be in Mama’s way when she gave birth if we were outside on the fence. He was really nervous that night. I could tell by the way he chewed on his mustache and paced the floor.
“Now, jes’ set out here a spell,” he ordered. “Soon ya’ll have yorsef a new brotha’ or sista’! I’ll come an’ tell ya’s; then ya’ll kin come back in. I’m gonna go find someone to help yer Ma now.”
He went into town to find someone to come help Mama deliver the baby. I hoped Pa would hurry. I knew something was wrong – dreadfully wrong as we listened to Mama’s screams and pitiful cries of pain. But we were told to sit on the fence and wait – wait until we were told we could go inside. So we sat and waited and talked and played games and thought. Besides, if we were loud enough, we wouldn’t hear Mama’s cries. Fence-sitting gave us lots of time to think.
Excerpt from Love’s Journey Home – Read more chapters here –