Never Alone





Never Alone

 

“Momma, I'm not hungry anymore. Thought you'd like to know.” The boy was lying on his side, his back against the wall, his hollow eyes closed, his hands tucked between his legs.

 

“I'm still cold though, Momma. I got the shivers.”

 

No one answered. This was his second day in the attic, the third since the levees broke and the waters came rushing into their house.

 

He sat up, opened his eyes, looking around the attic. “Momma? Where you at?” Meager light shone from the hole Momma had chopped in the roof, so they could escape the rising water that first day.

 

His mother had held him to her side as they stood on the roof. “The men will come, honey. The police will come in a boat and get us. Don't be afraid.” Together they watched the murky water shrink their world until the peak of the roof was all that remained. They watched until the night swallowed them.

That night was the darkest the four-year-old had lived through. He smelled the rank water. He heard faint crying. He tasted bitterness. But he saw nothing. He must have slept, because he didn’t hear momma slip into the waters and flail as she drifted away. He woke up shivering, praying for the morning, praying for the light. But when the light came, he regretted his whining about the darkness. In the light he saw he was alone on the roof.

 

“I can't be afraid. Momma's gonna help me somehow.”

 

As the water level slowly dropped, he climbed back through the hole, back into the attic to escape the sun. But also to be sure he would hear the phone when the police called to rescue him. He would find a way downstairs. He would answer that phone. The men would come. Momma had said so.

 

At the end of that third day he saw the water was gone from the second floor of the house. He lowered himself through the hole and dropped the last few feet. The carpet squished when he landed and smelled like the outhouse at his uncles fishing shack.

 

“Momma, you down here? I been lookin' for ya, Momma.” He looked into the three bedrooms. No one was there.

 

At the head of the stairs he could see the water was gone from the first floor, but mud covered everything. “Momma, I need to go down there. What do ya think? Should I?”

 

Silence. Silence. Silence.

 

He remembered the phone in Momma's room. Maybe he could call the rescue men. Maybe the police would come. He ran to his momma's bedside and lifted the receiver of the phone. No sound came out.

 

“Momma, I'm gonna dial 911, like you said. This is an emergency, right?”

 

He punched the buttons. No sound. He punched them again. “Can you hear me mister?” he yelled into the dead handset. “Can you come and get me?”

 

No one answered.

 

He grabbed the base of the phone and, in frustration and panic, pulled as hard as he could, until the wires broke free. He ran out of the room, down to the first floor, yanked open the front door, stepped onto the mud-covered porch and flung the phone into the water that surrounded the house. He was ready to throw himself in after it as despair surged through his tired, scared, thirsty body.

 

“Lamar? Lamar!”

 

A boat floated where the street had been a few days before. A woman, wrapped in a muddy blanket, stood in the bow, crying.

 

“Momma?”



Frank Hicks
 
 

Francis Hicks writes poetry and short fiction which give him great pleasure and on occasion insight into how things really are. His work has won prizes and awards. His poetry is included in the anthology The Way the Light Slants. He is a member of The Writer's League of Texas and past-president of The San Antonio Writer's Guild.

You can find more of his work here:



 

Comments

Anonymous said…
Powerful. I was touched. Great job!
Anonymous said…
What a powerful story, Frank is a wonderous writer. What is this San Antonio Writers Guild. How do I join.I want to write as well as Frank.
april said…
So much detail and emotion in so few words. Bravo!
Donna Winfrey said…
Powerful emotion!

Knowing people who went through this in Houston recently, really stirs up the emotions from within. The felt like a biography from someone who had been through this and experienced it.

Love the innocence of the little boy, and the connection to his mother.

Great job Francis Hicks!!
Laura Balogh said…
Nice piece, professor!
Anonymous said…
Aww, great ending. Made me cry.

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