Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: contributing bloggers each picked a number between 12 and 74. The submitted numbers were then assigned to other bloggers challenged with writing at least one piece using that exact number of words.
I was assigned the word count number: 26
It was submitted by: My good friend and amazing author Diane Tolley https://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/
Next May we’re taking a 6-week road trip to Yellowstone, Glacier, Banff, Denali, Glacier Bay, Olympic, Redwood, Yosemite, Arches, Crater Lake and Rocky Moutain National Parks.
Matthew was right and the massive storm moved over the fringes of the farm right before it got totally dark outside. They had picked up things around the yard that could turn into flying weapons, They had closed the shutters on all of the upstairs windows and Matthew was out trying to calm the horses who always got nervous right before a storm.
She could hear the wind picking up and the rain was coming in big fat sprinkles, just a hint of what was to come. Grace stood near the stove making coffee to warm Matthew up when he came in out of the rain. Normally he slept in the loft above the horses, but with such a storm coming in he thought it would be best to stay in the house for the night.
The door flew open with a bang causing Grace and Emma to both jump at the sudden noise. “Well, the horses will be fine, but boy it’s really brewing up a monsoon out there. The trees look like they’re touching the ground,” Matthew said taking off his coat. “We may have to run for the shelter. I’m afraid it’s going to get that bad before it’s over.”
All three of them knew how bad it could get. Grace had lost both of her parents in a twister and anyone living in the midwest new that cyclones could appear at any time and level the whole farm to the ground and there was nothing they could do to stop it. Patrick, the husband that she had recently lost, had always said that Mother Nature was an ornery bitch.
Matthew looked over as Grace poured the coffee with one hand while rubbing her back with the other. “Are you okay Grace? Did you hurt your back?”
“No, just an ache that won’t go away. I must have strained something it’s been hurting all day.” Emma & Matthew gave each other a worried glance across the table. They hard a large boom and Matthew jumped up to take a look. He swung open the door once again and saw that a giant tree limb had just missed the back porch.
“Ladies, I think we’ll be safer in the tornado shelter for the night. Let’s get some things together to make it as comfortable as we can, but I think we had better hurry.”
Grace’s eyes shot up, it was just like before, with her parents. She had been terrified of storms ever since. She stood up and started gathering food & Emma ran upstairs to get blankets, sheets, and pillows that they could use down in the cold dark root cellar. Mathew gathered a few tools and helped Grace place the food into the giant basket she kept by the door to collect eggs each morning.
They could hear the wind throwing things around out in the yard like a toddler knocking down his toys. “Okay ladies, we need to make a run for it. Head straight to the shelter no matter what. No detours. There’s no time. On three. One! Two! Three!” Matthew swung the door open while pushing both women through it. The girls held hands trying to stay upright in the strong tempest. Emma made it first dragging Grace behind her and swung open the door to the dark, damp hole in the side of the mountain that they used to store their perishables.
Grace lit the lantern as Matthew fought to shut the door. “Oh my God! It’s pouring out there and that wind! We’ll be lucky if anything is standing when it’s over. I hope the horses and Bessie will be okay.” She started pacing again rubbing the small of her back as she winced in pain.
“Grace,” Emma asked her standing up, “how long have you had this back pain?”
“It started in the middle of last night. I’ve just pulled something.” Grace said standing up straighter.
“Grace, I don’t think so. I think you might be in labor. I need to check,”
“Absolutely not! There is no way I’m having this baby in a root cellar in the middle of a tornado!” She said looking at Emma as if she had lost her mind.
“Grace, you don’t get to choose when the baby comes. They come at their own time and I think that time is now. You need to let me check. Matthew I’m going to need you to turn around.” Emma said pushing up her sleeves.
“Emma you have lost your mind. This baby is not coming right now,” she said louder than the howling wind outside. “Oh,” she said and looked down at the water pooling around her feet.
“Lay down here,” she laid a blanket out on the cold dirt floor and Grace edged herself down using the wall of the root cellar.
“No, no, no! This can’t be happening right now. Not now! Haven’t I suffered enough? I can’t do this right now,” Grace said now crying hysterically.
“Oh baby, it’s going to be okay,” Emma in her element now took over and began to calm her patient. “You have me and Matthew. You are not going to do this alone. We’re right here with you from beginning to end.” She began to check Grace to see how far dilated she was.
She was a lot further along than even Emma had guessed. “Well, this baby is coming and quickly! Matthew get some water from the well, that was smart of Patrick to think of something like putting a well in the root cellar,” she said trying to take Grace’s mind off of what was about to happen.
She had grabbed extra sheets and towels just in case and they were definitely going to come in handy now. “Matthew do you have a knife? I’ll need something to cut the umbilical cord. I need you to take the top of the lantern off and hold your knife over the flame to sterilize it. Grace you lay back and leave everything to me,” as the storm raged outside. “Matthew when you’re done with the knife I need you to move up by Grace’s head. Your job is to keep her calm and focused. We don’t have much time.”
Grace let out a scream that made the hair on Matthews’s arms stand up. “Oh God, oh God it hurts so much. Please make it stop,” she begged Matthew who was already turning white as the sheet that Grace was laying on.
“Matthew don’t you dare pass out on me. I need you! Give her a sip of water and keep her hair out of her face and remind her to breathe,” Emma said easily taking charge of the situation. She had delivered plenty of babies in her young age, but never on the floor in a root cellar as a storm raged outside, but she thought better of repeating that to Grace & Matthew. Both, in her opinion, were only holding on by a string.
Only Grace’s screams were louder than the wind that continued to beat against the root cellar door. “It’s time, Grace. It’s time! I want you to push NOW!” Grace let out an ear-piercing cry followed by a howl that sounded unearthly. She fell back against the hard dirt floor exhausted. “One more time,” Emma said rubbing Grace’s leg. “It’s almost over,” she said trying to boost both their confidence.
Grace raised forward and with a yell that caused her face to turn purple, she pushed as hard as she could. Emma caught the baby as Grace fell back exhausted and Matthew looked as green as the canned pickles on the shelf above his head. The room grew silent except for Grace’s labored breathing.
Emma cleaned off the baby and gave it a smack on the butt. It gave an irritated scream letting all know she was alive and well. “Well Ms. Grace, let me introduce you to your daughter.” She said gently placing the baby on the momma’s chest. Everyone in the small cellar was crying except the baby who was looking intently into her mother’s eyes for the very first time. “What are you going to name her?”
Grace laid there staring at the little bundle who was already sucking at her breast. She was amazed that something so beautiful, so precious could come from her…from her and Patrick. She shed a tear for all her little girl would never know such as the feel of her daddy’s hand in hers, the feel of him pushing her on the swing they’d put in the giant oak tree as soon as they found out they were expecting. “I’m going to call her Patty after her father. Hello Patty,” Grace said looking at the two people who had saved her, “meet your new family.”
Matthew noticed that the winds had died down and as soon as he was able to speak he said, “I’m going to take a look around outside and see if we can go back inside yet. You two, I mean three, stay here until I get back and keep that door shut.”
He made his way around Grace, Emma, and Patty and walked up the few steps to the root cellar door. He took a few seconds to listen, but it was all quiet now. He opened the door slowly and stepped out into the early morning and his chin hit the ground. The house was gone. The barn was gone. The only thing left was this root cellar and the horses & cow that had somehow made it through the horrible storm. Everything else was just gone.
Stay Tuned For Part 6
At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what numbers they got and how they used them.
Links to the other Word Counters posts:
Baking In A Tornado https://www.bakinginatornado.com
Spatulas on Parade https://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com
Sarah Nolan https://writersarahnolan.blogspot.com/
On the Border https://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/