HEART SF ♥
It all happened so fast like an ocean wave pulling her out to sea, the wedding in Dublin and the birth of their son, then the voyage across the ocean to a new country. So much hope about what the future would bring. There had not been much to look forward to back in their home town. The oldest son had inherited the farm. Nothing to do but look for the future far away from home in the land of opportunity, America.
Norah missed her sisters and their easy chatter as they all worked in the field. Two of her youngest sisters had already emigrated to Canada, and just one sister and brother remained on the family farm.
“We’ve all been washed out with the tide, carried to distant shores, and now just your letters make me feel like home,” Norah whispered as she put away the latest letter from her sister Mary Ann.
Norah was busy settling into her new home and expecting her second child in a few weeks time. She was grateful to have a roof over her head and that her husband had steady employment even though they lived in a flat. They scrimped and saved to buy a house. They took in boarders, new immigrants from the old country whose lilting speech pulled at her heart. Norah and Garrett were happy to help the newcomers get on their feet. Norah was especially fond of Jack, a young single man who reminded her of her brother. He always had a smile and was quick to laugh. There were jolly parties with fiddlers playing jigs and reels. They didn’t have much in material things, but their music and friends kept their spirits strong.
“When I hear the fiddlers play I could almost believe I am still home in Tipperary,” Norah spoke wistfully after the party ended.
“This is my home now,” replied her husband.
She knew he missed the old country and the horses he used to care for on the farm. Norah bit her lip hard and kept silent. She didn’t want him to think she was unhappy. He was working so hard to make a home for them.
“I do love the evenings when the fog rolls in. It makes me want to cuddle up with you.”
Garrett smiled at his young wife as they walked back to their bedroom, their borders already asleep for the night. It was in the early hours of the next morning when the cataclysm struck. A horrible rumbling and then a violent shaking threw them from their bed. They rushed out of the flat with the rest of the occupants. The air was filled with screaming and the sickening sound of buildings collapsing, with wooden planks and bricks falling into the street. They stood dazed on the sidewalk.
“We better get what we can out of the building before it collapses,” Jack shouted. They quickly ran a relay in and out taking what they could as the building groaned and creaked ominously. They hadn’t had a chance to save much but their lives.
The army moved into the city at the request of the mayor to keep order, provide first aid, and prevent looting. Tent camps were set up in public parks for the survivors who found themselves homeless. People walked around in stunned silence while a child wailed for his mother.
The buildings weren’t the only things broken by the quake. Water mains underground ruptured. Stunned residents salvaged whatever belongings they could, treated the injured, and counted the dead. The moans and cries of those trapped in the rubble would haunt them for years. Their young border, Jack, was killed when a wall collapsed on top of him as he tried to rescue a child.
A woman made breakfast for her family unaware of the broken chimney that caused a fire that burned down her house and half the city. The broken water mains prevented water from reaching the hoses of the firemen. People would later call it ‘the ham and eggs fire.’
What Norah and Garrett couldn’t salvage was burned to ash. They joined the other displaced people in bread lines and tent cities that were set up in public parks. It was the next night that Norah gave birth in one of those tents to a daughter, Rachel. Some of the women assisted in the delivery. An older woman told Norah, “Your little girl baby will have special powers because she was born at night. She will be able to see the dead.”
A chill ran through Norah as she heard the prediction, but she shook it off saying, “That’s old country superstition. We left that behind when we came to our new home.”
“I’m sorry I brought you to this place, Norah,” Garrett whispered as he watched his wife and new baby sleep. His young son Patrick was curled up against his mother’s back.
Many left The City, but the ones who remained were a hearty, optimistic lot, not ready to give up so quickly. Norah and Garrett were counted among those brave ones.
“It all seems like so long ago now,” Norah said as she closed the door to their new house on Eureka Street. “All the bad times are behind us.” Norah walked into the kitchen to finish supper for her little family while Rachel played with her toys on the floor. Patrick had started school, and in a while, they would walk down the block to pick him up. Norah was stirring the stew when she heard her little daughter muttering. She looked over to see Rachel was staring at a kitchen chair and talking as if someone was sitting there.
“Do you want to hold my dolly, Jack?”
WEP Write…Edit…Publish August 2018 Challenge Change of Heart is hosted by Denise Covey, Nilanjana Bose, and Olga Godim.
Word count: 960
Featured image: ‘San Francisco before the earthquake’ ( unknown author) via wikimedia.org