How are you?
I’m here with chapter eight of Leona.
If you’d like to read some of the previous chapters or find out what Leona is, click here.
I hope you like it!
The dust storm didn’t appear to have done much damage, and we were thankful. Back at the ranch, everyone was OK. It was still parched, though. I prayed every day for rain. My prayers always sounded something like this. “Dear God, thanks for loving us and sending Jesus to die for us. Please, please, send rain for the crops. If You don’t, the ranch’ll lose money. I love You. Please do send rain. Amen.”
Well, God seemed to have a different plan. It was July, and it was hot. Rain had still refused to fall. Bud and I were out for the summer, and had just come back from the ranch. Mama said since it was summer, we could stay more than weekends. We were ecstatic. We went back to old chores of chicken feeding, coop cleaning, and basin emptying. And we were happy about it.
I threw the used basin water out on the garden, which Mama had planted tomatoes, string beans, and peas in. They weren’t growin’ very good, and basins were carefully emptied in the places the water’d have the most effect. The plants looked a bit scraggly, but my mouth watered at the thought of juicy beefsteaks and crunchy string beans. The thought of peas with butter was fragrant in my mind, too. I hoped the garden would turn out.
Dad pulled into the drive and stepped out of the automobile. “Hey, Sis,” he called. I dumped out the rest of the water and noticed with disgust the weeds that had sprouted since my last weeding two days before. I dropped to my knees. “Hi, Dad,” I called back.
“You almost done with your chores?” Bud asked, screen door slamming. “Yup.” He grinned. “Wanna go ridin’?” he asked. “Sure.” I hopped up and brushed off my skirt, annoyed. “This thing won’t keep clean,” I muttered. Bud observed me silently. “Glad I’m not a girl,” he said. I laughed. “You better be.”
We went into the barn. Thunder snorted. “I’ll ride ‘em this time,” I said. Bud nodded and I led Thunder out and put a saddle on him. I slipped the bridle on him and put the bit in his mouth. Bud did the same with Clay. “We’ll come back for Jack,” he said. We led the horses out and mounted. “Alright. Race you,” I said. “Got it.” We clucked to the horses and the race began. Thunder galloped for all he was worth, sides heaving, hooves thundering, and nostrils flaring. Clay was giving it all he was worth, too. For a minute, Clay was ahead, but Thunder was younger, and more persistent. We passed Clay, with me laughing and spurring him on.
I was jostled as Thunder galloped. The warm day turned cool, as the wind whipped past my face and chapped my lips. I laughed. Clay caught up again, and Bud turned to me. “You win!” he yelled, above the noise of hooves beating. Thunder’s sides were lathered with a foamy sweat. I knew we should slow down, but I wasn’t ready to stop, yet.
I clucked Thunder on again. He snorted as we raced along. Clay slowed up. “We should slow down now, Sis!” Bud yelled. I turned to face him. Before I knew what happened, Thunder reared. I hit the ground, and everything went black.
My eyelids fluttered open. I was conscious of pain. Pain everywhere. But mostly in my side. The pain was fire. A fire that was devouring my side, and my entire body. I looked around. The floral curtains were familiar. I stared as they blurred and spun. My head throbbed. I saw a dresser. My dresser. It was spinning and blurry, and sometimes there were more than one of them. I closed my eyes again and heard someone come in. “Sis?” I opened my eyes. Mama was bending over me. Or two Mamas. She looked ready to collapse with relief. “You’re OK,” she crooned, stroking my hot forehead. Her cool hands felt good. I closed my eyes again.
When I opened my eyes again, it was night. The dark taunted me. I hated being alone. I didn’t know what was going on, and why I hurt. I lay still, paranoid of the dark. It was grabbing at me with talons and black claws and laughing horribly. Inwardly, I screamed. It hurt too much to scream outwardly.
The night passed in spurts of pain, where breathing itself seemed complicated. Mama came in twice to check on me. “The dark,” I croaked. She soothed me and assured me it was alright. I took a rasping breath and fell into a troubled sleep.
I woke up again, some time later. Time was irrelevant. I barely knew who I was, let alone how long I had been like this. Suddenly I was cold. So cold. The rigid feeling tingled up my legs and pervaded me icily. I shivered uncontrollably. My head tingled. I felt dizzy and lightheaded. I felt a jolt as I experienced a feeling similar to that of falling off a cliff. I drifted into an unconscious state of nothingness, where everything was made of ice.
A white blur was bending over me. A muddle of sounds reached me as if the world was in slow motion. I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t even care. Something was poured down my throat. It tingled and burned. I fell back. Back into nothingness.
Mama helped me sit up. “Here you go,” she told me, setting a tray of soup in my lap. I slowly spooned the broth in my mouth, my hand shaking. “Thanks,” I whispered. I pushed the food away after a few spoonfuls, and Mama took the tray out. It had been a week, and I was still recovering. “Bud rode into the yard screaming, with you thrown over the horse. You had fallen off and were knocked out. When you didn’t wake up, I was afraid. We called the doctor and he drove in from Beaver. Said you had a concussion and broken ribs,” Mama had told me. So that’s what had happened. I remembered the horse rearing. I remembered a blur in the road. “A road-runner. Scared Thunder half to death,” Bud had stated. “I saw you fall, and you hit the ground so hard I was sure you were dead. Had a pulse though. I dragged you home, and Mama took it from there.”
Something else had occurred during my state of unconsciousness. “Another duster blew through last week,” Dad told me. “Was it bad?” I asked worriedly, sitting up in bed. “Naw. It wasn’t hardly anything.” I had sighed with relief.
Now it was July, and I was allowed to get up and walk around. My side still had a bruise, and it had turned a greenish-yellow color. I was thankful not to be confined to the small bedroom any longer. I wanted company and attention. Mama put up with my following her around, still unnerved from my accident. No one knew about my fall except the family, and I felt slightly desolate. I followed Mama, ventured slowly out to scatter feed for the chickens, and sat around, wishing I was well.
Rachel knocked on the door the next afternoon, oblivious to the awful accident that had occurred. Mama answered the door. “Is Sis here?” she asked cheerfully. Mama slowly nodded, and proceeded to tell Rachel the entire story. Rachel listened, gasping with horror, and came immediately to find me. “I’m so sorry!” she exclaimed, holding my hand. “I’m glad you’re OK.” I was so thankful to see her, and realized how long it had been. “I’m OK,” I had answered, trying not to be dizzy. Rachel stayed with me the rest of the afternoon, sitting quietly and chatting.
The next week, I was sitting on the couch in the living room, trying to read. My head hurt awfully, and the words on the page came in and out of focus. Throwing the book down impatiently, I stood up and paced the room. I came to a standstill, dizzy. It sure had gotten dark outside. Curious, I strolled to the window. I stared out lazily. It was only four o’clock. Surely it wasn’t getting dark yet. I squinted as my eyes seemingly dotted my vision.
Unsure, I called to Mama. She came hurrying in. “What is it?” she asked. I pointed out the window. A haze of dust was gathering, and spilling over the prairie. Mama saw it too. “Good heavens,” she exclaimed, throwing up her hands. She bustled to the front door, flustered. I got up and watched her run to the barn from the window.
Dad and Bud emerged and stood for a second, watching the cloud solemnly. They strode inside. “Not another one,” I heard Dad mutter as he sauntered up the porch steps. They came inside disconsolately. Mama closed the door. “When will it end?” she asked, more to herself than to us. “What I would give,” Dad uttered.
We watched as the filmy cloud engulfed us. After a few minutes, it passed, leaving souvenirs of the gritty mess. I swallowed, feeling dizzy, and quickly went to find a chair. Mama cast an understanding glance my way, and hustled to get me cool water. I sipped it gratefully, and closed my eyes. I held the glass to my throbbing head.
I was so ready to be done with this pain. Given the chance, I would readily give it up. Mama began sweeping the floors. I watched vaguely as the pile of dust grew. It was thick and the sight of it taunted me. I closed my eyes, and fingered the chair cushion. Sleep took me captive, and I fell prey to dreams filled with dirt.
I woke up, and squinted to see in the ill-lit room. It was early morning. Mama must have covered me, and left me to sleep down here, not wanting to interrupt precious sleep. She was convinced that sleep was the only cure for this. With this, I agreed, and I closed my heavy eyelids.
My ribs were healing nicely, Mama said, when I no longer winced as she touched my side. The bruise was almost gone. I wished I could say the same for my head. It still hurt, and randomly, dizziness would overtake me, and I had to sit down. Touching my forehead resulted in pain. Speaking was difficult, and words sometimes became jumbled up. I would look at Mama. “I need w-,” I would pause, confused, “I water.” Mama would nod and jump up. She was so concerned, so sweet. I wished I didn’t have to worry her.
Another thing I wished for – rain. “Oh, God, we need rain!” I would plead in my head. I knew God wasn’t just there for fixing my every need, but sometimes I wished He would.
We had two more dust storms in July. These, we thought, were bad ones. We were wrong. The worst was still to come. In August, a bad storm blew, leaving feet of dust in various places. “If this keeps up, wheat’s gonna be gone, and cattle dead,” Dad lamented at supper one night. My heart jumped in my chest. That showed how bad things were.
Mama cautiously allowed me to go to school in September. We made the journey to Beaver. I wished I could have stayed at the ranch. “Can’t I skip this year?” I asked Mama hopefully. “No. I moved to Beaver for you two to get educated, and that’s what you’re gonna do.” I relented, and we journeyed onward. I arrived at school on the first day in tenth grade. Mama accompanied me. “She got a very bad concussion this summer,” she explained hurriedly to the teacher. “My goodness!” Miss Ann exclaimed. “How awful! How did it happen?” I colored, as if falling off a horse was a disgrace to a country girl. “The horse she was riding reared, and Bud had to ride her home, unconscious,” Mama told her. “Oh, my! We’ll make sure she’s doing alright in school. Her work load won’t be over-bearing.” Mama smiled. “Thank you. I’m glad you understand.” Half way through the lecture, my head started spinning. Miss Ann paused. “Are you alright, Leona?” she asked me. I nodded vaguely. “If you need some water, please tell me.” I nodded again and Miss Ann returned to the lecture.
At lunch, Arlene and Lillian came to the table, bursting with curiosity. “Why’d your mom come?” Arlene pried. “Why’d the teacher ask if you were OK?” Lillian put in. “I fell off a horse and got knocked out.” They gasped. I realized that I had a willing audience. I was glad somebody cared. I launched into details. “I was riding with Bud, and the horse reared. I fell off and got knocked out. Bud flung me over the horse and hauled me home. I was still unconscious, and I don’t remember any of it. But when I woke up, it hurt so bad. I went unconscious again, and Mama called a doctor, who said I had broken ribs and a concussion.” I let this sink in.
Arlene gasped again. “How awful!” Lillian exclaimed, “Are you OK?” I nodded. “Yup. But I still get real bad headaches and dizzy spells.” Arlene shook her head. “You’re so brave,” she mused. I smiled. “Naw. Not really.” They looked at me admirably.
The next day, all of the tenth grade seemed to know about my concussion and fall. I sighed and put up with whispers and questions. It served me right for bragging.
I hope you have a super duper week!