A Family Multiplication

Posted: January 27, 2011 in #fridayflash, Short stories

She got the phone call on the Saturday night and her world was in pieces within seconds of pressing the accept incoming call button. She and her sister weren’t as close as some, but they always looked out for each other. But now she was gone, or so the doctor on the telephone was saying .

“Where are they?” she said quivering like a boneless shell of flesh.

“They are here” the doctor said calmly.

“What the children?” she said shocked he hadn’t mentioned them before.

“Children? I wasn’t aware of any children” he said now with a hint of confusion and panic hitting the back of his throat and spilling into the sentence.

“She has four children. Where are they?”

The silence was like a time capsule, encasing them both in a bubble of motionless torment, for what seemed like an eternity.

“I’m afraid I don’t know Mrs Smyth. They were not at the scene of the accident.”

“I have to go!” she hastily put down the phone and stood static, unable to move from the spot. It was as if a huge whirling hurricane had just swept past her and she was presently in the hurricanes eye. It was calm but the rest was about to hit her at any minute.

The numb, hollow feeling was uncontrollable but suddenly her adrenalin shot through her veins and her head was suddenly over brimming with panic and questions.

“George. George” she wailed.

Her husband came running in from the garden with Petal, their youngest daughter on his hip. “What’s happened” he said, noticing his wife’s teary eyes and colourless skin.

“Jo-Lee.” That’s all she managed to divulge. She took a deep breath and wiped her eyes with the back of her hands, “George get the kids”. She took hold of petal and squeezed her ever so gently and kissed the top of her head, inhaling the essence of her baby. “Jo-Lee has been killed in a car accident, with Dominic and they have no idea where the kids are”. With that George hugged his wife and gripped the top of her arm in reassurance before he ran to the garden to gather Tyler and Rosie from the tree house.

* * *

 They arrived at her sister’s house and she abruptly realised that she wasn’t going to see Jo-Lee open her front door. Tears began to stream from her already blood-shot eyes as she battled to hold them back.

They could see the television on in the living room and Jo-Lee’s eldest son, Jimmy, sitting at the bedroom window. He recognised their car and came running to the front door.

“Auntie Casey! Where is mummy? She was supposed to come home last night but the babysitter said she’s not come home yet and both mummy and daddys mobiles are switched off.”

“Come inside sweetheart” Casey took his soft timid hand and led him inside and into the living room.

The baby was cooing in the playpen, whilst four-year-old Josh sat in front of the television screen fixated on the bright colours and cartoon characters.

“Where’s your babysitter? And Leaha?”

“Leaha is upstairs and Emma is in the kitchen.”

“Can you go and get your sister for me Jimmy and I’ll just talk to Emma quickly.”

He ran upstairs as if he was on a secret mission, totally oblivious to the news he was about to receive. “Leaha” he called as he reached the top, “Aunty Casey is here and she knows where mummy is!” A hard choking lump hit the back of her throat.

She closed the door to the kitchen as Emma turned around from buttering toast. Casey had to explain as best she could what had happened. After a few minutes of tearful hugs and sentiments, they knew what they had to do, the hardest thing they had ever done in their lives.

Casey led the way to the living room where all the children were sat on the sofa with the baby on Leaha’s lap sucking on a rusk. Casey thought how connected they looked and knowing what her sister was like, this would have been a photo moment. She fought the emotion and sat on the floor in front of the children. She broke the news as gently as she could and as simple as she could for little Josh.

“They’re gone forever?” he said his tiny pink bottom lip trembling.

“I’m afraid so darling,” like a broken dam, her eyelids fought back the gushing water that was forming and over flowing from her eyelids. “But don’t worry; we’re going to make sure you guys are all ok. We’ll work something out.”

Josh leapt forward and clung to her neck like a baby chimpanzee hanging from its mother as she climbed up high in the trees.

She hugged him tightly, “It’s going to be ok”.

Reluctantly she had no choice but to drive the children to her house using her sisters car. She assumed that it was Dom’s car that had been involved in the crash.

The house would normally be buzzing, with five children and two babies. With television sets on, games involving loud voices and youngsters running around the house, babies cooing and laughing, but today, the house was silent. She could feel the tension, the uneasiness everyone was feeling.

George was trying his hardest to entertain the littler ones, who seemed to be less affected than the others but Jimmy and Leaha were zombies living in a mortal world. They looked out of place and confused, their whole world was upside down.

Cassey went to the kitchen to prepare lunch for everyone. She shut the door behind her so she could sob without being detected. It wasn’t long before Josh had broke away from the puppet show George was performing in the living room and found Cassey crying quietly over grated cheese.

“Aunty Cassey,” he whispered quietly as he crept up behind her, “Who will be my mummy now?”

She sniffed back a tear, “Your mummy will always be your mummy.”  She lifted him into the air and held him tightly, their heads resting on each others shoulders, intertwined like ivy, unable to say another word. Before she knew it Leaha and Jimmy were there too, gripping to either side of them. They sat in the kitchen weeping and holding each other tightly. She knew then that she was now a mum to seven children.

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dane Tyler and Brainhaze, Brainhaze. Brainhaze said: My #fridayflash is A Family multiplication http://bit.ly/eWDRep please come and have a read and leave a comment […]

  2. Laura Eno says:

    I think you caught the emotions and confusion well when something like this happens. A most heart-felt story.

  3. John Wiswell says:

    It’s quite sad. At least those seven have a mum.

    For constructive criticism, I’d be careful with the word “but.” I counted nine uses, including two in the first paragraph. I’m a but-addict as well. So handy, but (darnit!) so easy to overuse.

  4. Michael A Tate says:

    I had some trouble getting into the story at first, and you seem to be missing an “about” when you say “What the children?” But after that point it read alright.

    I liked the emotions you were able to create at the end.

    Keep it up

  5. Laurita says:

    Gah! No one warned me I needed tissues to read this story. I think you captured the confusion and emotion very well.

  6. Gracie says:

    You presented this heart-rending scene very well. At least they’ll all be together. Good story!

  7. alisonwells says:

    Strong story. Was caught up in the emotion and you played the scene very well. Well done.

  8. adampb says:

    This kind of stuff just pulls at the heart strings and makes you go and hug your own children.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  9. Anneke Klein says:

    The emotions are spot on, the scene very well captured. It seems to me as if the story is just the beginning of a longer story. What will happen to the children? I’d love to read more.

  10. These two lines: “It was as if a huge whirling hurricane had just swept past her and she was presently in the hurricanes eye. It was calm but the rest was about to hit her at any minute.” We’ve all lived these two lines at one point or another, and this is just what it’s like.

    Yeah, that’s just great stuff. Thanks.

  11. Blackbirdsong says:

    Such a heart wrenching story. You really caught the essence of the scene beautifully. There is no easy way to go through things like this, and the way you’ve written this details that perfectly. Excellent work.

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