hate homework.” Jennifer Jackson let her head fall forward till her forehead rested
on the book that lay on the table in front of her. “Writing essays is the worst.”
Rose looked up from her work at the kitchen counter. “What’s the book?” she asked.
“Heart of Darkness.”Jennifer raised her head. “Such a depressing book. They shouldn’t make high school students read stuff like that. We’re young and impressionable and real life is depressing enough.”
“My my, aren’t we in a funk,” said Rose. She was about to continue when the telephone interrupted her. Jennifer leaped from her chair and reached the phone before Rose had even dried her hands.
“Hello?” Jennifer answered the phone as though it had just saved her life, and as though it would save her from her homework. She listened for a second, then said “yeah she’s right here,” and handed the phone to Rose. “It’s Randy,” she said, sounding a little disappointed.
Rose sat down at the table as she put the phone to her ear. “Hello Randy,” she said. “What’s up?” She listened for a second and then her eyes widened. “Really?” she said. “I’ll be right over.” She was out of her chair and halfway across the room before Jennifer could even ask the obvious question.
“Jackie’s going to have the baby!” Rose was already putting on her coat. “They want me to get Allison and bring her over here!”
“I’m coming with you!” Jennifer was suddenly right behind her mother.
“What about your homework?” Rose managed to ask the question as the door closed behind her, leaving Jennifer to answer the question to an empty house.
“Like anyone’s going to remember my homework tonight,” said Jennifer to herself as she threw her parka on over her sweater and dashed out into the cold winter air. She caught up with her mother as Rose climbed the stairs up to the porch of Randy and Jackie’s trailer. Rose didn’t bother to knock.
“It’s Gamma!” Allison’s delighted cry greeted them as they stepped into the trailer. The little girl ran across the floor and launched herself at her grandmother as Randy appeared from the hallway. Rose scooped her up into her arms.
Randy headed straight for the coat hooks where he grabbed his wife’s coat and then reached down to pick up her boots as well. “Jackie’s lying down,” he said, “but she is ready to go right now she says.” He headed back toward the bedroom talking over his shoulder. “She started getting contractions about two hours ago and so far it’s been fine but now she says it’s going fast. Thanks for coming over.” The last words floated out from the bedroom into which he disappeared.
“Boy, he’s all business,” said Jennifer.
“Hi Auntie Jenn!” said Allison, reaching around Rose’s neck to touch the fake fur around the hood of Jennifer’s parka.
“Hi little Allison,” said Jennifer. She leaned forward and gave the little girl a kiss on the nose, which made Allison giggle. Randy and Jackie appeared from the bedroom, Jackie looking utterly distracted. She stopped in the middle of the room, grabbing Randy’s arm and stopping him in his tracks. Jackie didn’t say a word, just stood motionless, staring at the wall for about half a minute before she moved again.
“Not too bad yet,” she said, “but we’re getting there.” She gave Rose and Jennifer a little smile and reached out to take Jennifer’s hand, which she placed on her stomach. Jennifer’s eyes widened.
“Oh my gosh,” she said. “It’s hard as a rock.”
Jackie almost laughed but stopped herself. “Who knew I had that kind of abs eh?” she said.
“Let’s go,” said Randy. “I do not want to have to deliver this baby in the back seat of the truck.”
“That makes two of us,” said Jackie, moving toward the door, the look of concentration returning to her face. She paused long enough to give her daughter a quick kiss. “Be good for Grandma, Allison,” she said.
“OK,” said Allison and raised her little hand. “Bye bye Mommy,” she said. “Bye bye Daddy.”
“I’ll call from the hospital,” Randy said as the door closed behind him.
“You’d better,” said Rose.
“Wow,” said Jennifer. “Having a baby is kind of intense.”
Rose just laughed as she gave Allison a squeeze. “Let’s get No. 1 here over to our house and get her ready for bed,” she said.
Allison held up a finger. “No. 1?” she said.
Rose chuckled. “Always,” she said. “Always and forever.”
Catch Rollin Penner and the Traveling Medicine Show live at Sam’s Place, 159 Henderson Highway, on Saturday, December 4 at 7 p.m.