Story #4 Willing Life and Death
Willing Life and Death
Estelle had raced Misty over to Mrs. Shrock’s farm in the early morning hours. Fear did not grip Estelle as much as the worry she had for her mother and the new baby and the bewilderment over the whole incident with the noises, the voice, and that crow. She didn’t trust it. A sinking feeling gripped her when she thought about that crow.
Mr. Shrock answered the door and got Mrs. Shrock up in a hurry and he hitched his horses to their wagon and followed Estelle back to the house. Estelle’s father had managed to get her mother inside to their bedroom and Mrs. Shrock, the farming community’s unofficial midwife, started asking for towels, boiling water, scissors, you name it.
Estelle couldn’t sleep and therefore assisted Mrs. Shrock in any way she could. As her mother labored some awful pains, Estelle cringed at the thought of what her mother was going through. She vowed then she would never have children.
Then Mrs. Shrock asked Estelle to leave the room and close the door. She went out into the family room and sat on the couch and listened as her mother agonized in pain. Her father sat in a chair across from her and she could tell by the look on his face that he was especially worried. At one point, he got up and started pacing. Then he would sit back down. He’d glance at Estelle and cast a smile her way, saying nothing, but conveying his worst fears.
Eventually the other three girls woke up. Estelle’s oldest sister, Margie was responsible for cooking the breakfast and Estelle had to dress the younger two girls and watch them. Shortly after breakfast, Estelle and her sisters went to play outside. Her dad would wander between the house and the yard, unsure of his place in all of this. The girls played, but they were unusually quiet. Every now and then screams would come from the house, which frightened Estelle and her sisters. And that crow…was now sitting up in the tree ever watchful of their every move.
An hour before lunch, Mrs. Shrock summoned Estelle’s father inside and it was the longest twenty or thirty minutes Estelle could remember. He came back outside and told Margie to get in the kitchen and make everyone lunch. Her dad walked out toward the barn and just sat up against one side. Estelle went toward him, with her younger sisters in tow.
“Dad, Is Momma okay?” She asked in a rather frightened voice.
“Yes, dear, your mom is going to be just fine.” He reassured but something told Estelle there was more.
“How about the baby?” she asked.
“Well, you have another baby sister.” He answered.
Estelle seemed rather puzzled. Her father’s behavior wasn’t normal, “Are you sad it wasn’t a boy this time?”
“No Estelle, I’m thankful it’s a girl.” He gave her a wink and looked away.
“What’s wrong then?” she asked.
“I’m just a little taken by all the excitement,” then he added, “Life is a miraculous thing, you know. It can be overwhelming I guess. Run along now, I’m fine, I just need a few moments.”
At that Estelle took her two sisters by the hand and headed back toward the house. She thought there would be a sigh of relief but even her father’s reassurances could not appease her. Then there was that crow, that evil crow, watching her every move. Oh, how she wanted it gone.
Margie finally called them all in to lunch and Mrs. Shrock joined them. Estelle was allowed to take her mother in a tray with some food. As she brought it in, her mother asked her to set it aside so she could see her baby sister. “This is Audrey, your baby sister,” her mother introduced. Estelle was utterly taken at her beautiful little face. Her sister seemed very alert, turning her head to sounds and trying to take in the world around her. Her mother added, “She looks just like you did.”
This made Estelle smile. She handed her mother the tray and helped put the baby down in the bassinette so her mother could eat and she shut the door as she left the room.
At the lunch table, Mrs. Shrock was going on and on about all the deliveries she had assisted with in the area and the tales that went along with them. The children rarely spoke at the table unless spoken to…and her father just took a bite and instead of engaging in the conversation he would put his fork down in between mouthfuls and rub his shoulder. Estelle wondered if he had hurt his shoulder carrying his mother in from the yard earlier.
And then she spotted the crow through the window on a tree branch looking inside. She knew this meant something. Her thoughts raced toward her mother and the baby, but they were fine. Then she looked at her father. His coloring was off. He was clutching his shoulder. Everyone at once seemed to notice, including Mrs. Shrock. Her father slumped ungracefully to the floor.
Estelle immediately got up and left the table.
She was angry; angrier than she had ever been in her entire life. She walked right outside and around the house to where the crow was perched. She stared it down. Her eyes connected with its eyes. My father WILL live and if anything shall die it will be you , she willed the message to the bird without speaking. My father WILL live! It is you that will die! Her eyes never averted its eyes. She sent her message over and over and when she reached the branch where the bird was perched, it fell to the ground lifeless.
Estelle immediately felt relief. She knew deep down her father would be fine.
**Estelle Picture (c) 2011 by Vintage Duffee, all rights reserved.**
***Crow pictures above were found using Google Images Search. Each photo can be clicked so you can see the image by the original author in its original format.***