It was nearly four o’clock, when I
finally shut down the computer and headed toward the freezer, after suddenly
remembering I had pulled out nothing for supper. Thank heavens for microwave
ovens. I had just pulled out a freezer bag of homemade chicken and noodles,
when, through the window, I saw the door of the shed open and hurriedly
I couldn’t believe my eyes. Moving
quickly, a young sprite of a girl fled from our shed, bloody and disheveled.
I knew she was the one I’d seen flitting past for several days. I frowned,
unable to imagine who she was. I knew everyone from the area, and she didn’t
look familiar. I wouldn’t have noticed at all except for the crimson
bloodstains streaking past my window.
I hurriedly threw open the
door and ran out into the yard, yelling, “Please, don’t run away. Come back
and let me help you,” but whoever it was had long since disappeared.
What had she wanted with the
shed? I headed toward it, noticing bloody handprints on the door and frame,
plainly visible from the patio, not twenty feet away. The blood was fresh,
bright red, and still dripping in places. Something was very wrong.
My heart pounded loudly as I
neared the shed. I heard a slight sound, like a kitten, mewing softly.
Oh, God, I prayed, could it be? I threw open the door, and there
in the tangle of tools and toolbox, was a brown cardboard box, with a wadded
up wool blanket inside. My heart melted, as I parted the blanket and saw an
infant, still bloody, and covered with vernix, the white creamy substance
that protects a baby from the fluids it grows in. The src
atchy green army
blanket was her only protection.
I just stood there for a
minute, not believing my eyes. Who would do this? I picked up the box and
lifted the baby out, hugging her to me, and tossed the box in the burn
barrel not far from the shed.
The baby was small, her cry
weak and movements jerky. She looked a bit premature to me. Her cord was
tied and knotted with a length of new white shoelace.
I thought back to my days as
a student of obstetrics in nursing school. The baby needed warmth most of
all, so I rewrapped the blanket, holding her snugly against my body, even
though the April day was mild.
I cooed, softly, “Oh, it’s
all right, sweetie. I’ll take care of you.”
I glanced in the direction
the mother had run. She needed help, and I could only wish she had come to
me. I would’ve done anything to help her.
It seemed unlikely that the
girl had prenatal care, and by the look of her, she’d probably had little
extra in the way of good food to nourish a growing fetus.
I kept glancing around,
expecting to see her. I tried to think of the lay of the land, places she
might have gone to hide. But having never ventured past our hundred acres, I
could think of none, as I carried the baby into the house.
I hurriedly checked her over, to see if
she was injured in any way, but she seemed fine, so I wrapped her in a
softer blanket, then a heavier throw, and swaddled her snuggly. I found my
purse, slipped into my shoes, and hurried toward my car.
The emergency room of our
tiny hospital, which rarely treats more than one or two people at a time,
overflowed in a flurry of activity. Because it doubles as our doctor’s
office, it was hard to tell if most of them were actual emergencies or
At the counter, I said to the
nurse on duty, “Hey, Kit.”
She looked up from her paperwork, “So
what have you got there, Makkie?”
I shook my head, turning the baby, so she
could get a glimpse. “You’re not going to believe this, but someone left a
baby in my shed. Looks to be a preemie. Anyone available to see her?”
“They left a what? A baby?” She laughed.
“This could only happen to you.” After a beat, she added, “Oh, she’s
beautiful. I’ll call Dean Schutte, down from upstairs. I think he’s still in
She paged Dr. Shutte and had a call back
in a minute. Dean is an old school mate of mine, who comes to consult from
his office in Kansas City. The hospital regularly rotates family
practitioners down from the city, so outlying small towns have medical
coverage. The local ER doc, Arlo James popped out of the double doors,
heading for the desk, src
ounged through some paperwork then looked up and
finally noticed me, and my wrapped bundle.
He grinned. “Makkie, I thought it was
about time you showed up. Gettin’ mighty lonesome around here without you.”
Arlo had been on my bad side for quite
some time now. He had cared for me during several different injuries and
illnesses during the past year, always asking outright whether or not I had
a death wish. I usually try not to rise to the bait, by biting my tongue,
and this was no exception.
He continued, “So what’s that?”
He came to look, and his eyes widened. “A
baby? Where did you get a baby?”
“She was left in my shed a little while
ago. I saw a young girl running away, all bloody, but I couldn’t catch her
in time, or I would’ve brought her, too. I’ve never seen her before, but you
guys might be on the lookout for a young blonde girl, about fourteen or so,
“Sure thing, Makkie,” Kit said.
Arlo glanced around the full waiting
room, “It looks like I’ve got my hands full, or I’d take a look at her for
“That’s okay, Arlo, I can see you have a
full house. What is it, a full moon or something?”
“I’ve never really believed in that stuff
until today,” he said with a sigh, grimacing, “but the flood of customers
hasn’t stopped since last night.”
I laughed. “Did you hear that, Kit? He
called us customers.” I looked back at Arlo, smiling. “Kit already called
Dean Schutte for me, so you can feel free to attend to your other
“See you, Makkie.” He laughed, patting my
shoulder before he turned away. Arlo was my kindergarten seatmate, and for
that reason seems overprotective, as if we’re joined at the hip or
something. He still looks much like the six-year old kid with a Dennis the
Menace cowlick sticking up from a shock of reddish blonde hair, and even a
peppering of freckles to complete the ensemble. He turned and waved as he
said, “Keep me posted on the new addition, okay?”
Dean Schutte strode out of the elevator
and headed straight for the desk. “You needed me down here, Kit?”
She gestured toward me. “Dean, Makkie
found a baby girl, a preemie, by the looks of her. Got time to check her
Dean parted the blanket and smiled.
“Makkie, you found a beauty. Where?” He
looked at me puzzled, his gray eyes intense. He towered over me, more than
six-five, and I figured he must be working out to keep his youthful figure.
He wasn’t experiencing middle aged spread like most of the guys his age
around here. His wife, Michele, had been a good friend during nursing
school, years ago.
“In our shed. A young girl, all tattered
and bloody, was running away from the shed, but I couldn’t catch her. I
can’t help but wonder if she’s still alive.”
He looked from the baby to me. “You don’t
know who she is--never saw her before?”
“I didn’t recognize her at all.”
I turned my attention to the baby in my
arms, as he motioned us to a room. “Here, let me have her. Let’s see how
much she weighs.”
He laid her on the scales, to which she
protested, throwing her arms and legs around, mewing.