Saturday, July 23, 2011

Child's Play and Squealing Pigs

 A Real Story

I live on a farm, though I am not a farmer. I hear pigs squeal everyday, though they are perfectly fine. Yet, sometimes, I mistake their yells for the screams of children; I have three daughters who love to play outside, and so I listen. Is that a piglet? Or is that my baby calling for help? Fortunately, it's almost never the latter.

A few days ago it was.

I leaned back in my soft reclining chair. My fingers tapped the keyboard. Should they fight on a mountain, near the shore, in a tunnel? I worked on my short story called Prey. The ideas were good, but it wasn't clicking yet... the characters weren't developed... the descriptions were thin. I pulled on my hair as I deleted another sentence.

Two of my daughters played in the living room corner, smacked a stuffed wolf and bear together. Two of my dogs barked at things I couldn't see and didn't bother to look for. My fiance, Kimberly, typed her own novel beside me. The sounds. All the sounds... AHH!

I couldn't go to another room. My house had only one and it belonged to the kids. But maybe if I focused, I could zone everything out. Maybe--

A shriek hit my ears.

Damn it. The sound was faint, but so unique... it overpowered everything. My other daughter, I call her Fireball online, had gone to play outside. Was that her? No. It couldn't be. She was a tough girl, and scrapes didn't bother her much. We lived surrounded by trusted neighbors. But she had biked down the road. Maybe something happened.

I listened. The wails continued.

Okay. It's the pigs. Only they got so fussy.

My oldest, I call her Oldest Child online, asked Kimberly if she could go outside, got a yes, and ran out the door. Though, of course, running wasn't allowed.

My dogs cuddled in a dark corner. (Or a Dark Edge, perhaps?)

Things quieted down. Finally. Except for the pigs.

"What the hell is going on?" asked Kimberly.

I rubbed my elbow against my rough, auburn chair. "Maybe they're hungry?" A fly buzzed around my face. The smell of cooked beef teased my nose.

Kimberly shrugged. "Someone should feed them."

"Or teach them manners."

"Wait... is that a child screaming."

"No. It's just the..." A voice trickled through the squeals. A girl's voice. My daughter!

Oldest Child burst into the room. "Fireball is hurt. She's down the road. She's screaming really, really badly."

I got my laptop off my lap and rushed outside. There were cars on that road, and my little girl was small. There were guard dogs. Of course, they were all leashed or had electric collars, but still, what if something happened? What if one of them got her?

I ran over bright fields of green. Around a wall of bushes, a man and a woman emerged--my neighbors--and they were helping Fireball walk.

Blood dripped down her face. Cuts covered her knees and elbows. Her breathing was way too fast, and she kept yelling.

"It's alright," I said, taking Fireball into my arms. "Relax. Remember what we talked about. Just breath. In. Out. In. Out." I took long deep breaths, and Fireball tried to mimic them.

I ran my hand down my daughters head, over and over. "What happened?"

"She's a little bruised up," said the woman. "But... she seems fine."

"I thought a dog got her," said the man. God no. Please no.

"What happened?"

"She fell off her bike," said the woman. "She says her mouth doesn't hurt..." But that's where all the blood on her face had come from, " she must have cut her lip or gum."

Did she? Her mouth had turned a deep red. Blood ran from where a tooth had been. Oh no. Did it get knocked out? Did it... no. Fireball had lost that tooth yesterday and got a visit from the tooth fairy. The wound must have reopened when she fell.

I exhaled, not noticing that I'd held my breath against my advice, and hugged my daughter closer. "It's alright, Fireball. It's alright..."

Kimberly and my other girls came out. They took Fireball inside and got her cleaned.

The pigs stopped squealing, and I promised I'd never stop listening for my little girls again.


  1. OMG that is so scary. Bless your hearts. Poor Fireball.

    Emerald Baptiste

  2. Thank you Emerald Baptiste. Fireball is fine now, and we have all learned.

  3. Awe! Jeez! I'm only 16 and that scared me! I'm glad she's alright and it was very generous of you to share your story with us. I would definitely like to read more of your work soon.

  4. Thanks Nikkibear. I greatly appreciate that you took your time to read my work and comment.

  5. Wonderful post love! You tell a great story. I can't wait til DARK EDGE hits the bookstores!

  6. I wandered over from Kimberly's facebook. That is enough to terrify any paren. As the oldest of five, I have been home alone when kid's get hurt on more than one occasion. It always takes your breath until you realize its okay. Mouths and scalps always seem to bleed a lot though the wounds are often minor.

  7. Thank you for reading Erin Maurer. I appreciate it.

  8. You're an excellent writer Dmytry - thank you for sharing this. I had a scare a few weeks back - a little girl was about to drown and she was completely quiet about it. I told the story in a prose poem on the front page of my blog, called, 'Dominoes'

    Relieved your Fireball is okay and yes, never stop listening...even when you think they don't want you to listen any more! ;)

  9. Thank you for your comment Heather Grace Stewart. I'm glad you took your time to read my work.

  10. That is so scary to hear your child screaming and you don't know what happened to them. Sad story but well written.

  11. Thank you Josh Hoyt for taking the time to read my story.

  12. Wow, great suspense...very compelling. Glad we stumbled upon one another on Twitter!

  13. Thank you Shelley A. Gable for taking the time to read my post and comment. I really, really appreciate it.