How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE

Tailspin (Part 2)


Tailspin Part 1 is here


“You ‘usband…gold mine …Mon Dieu…accident…”

The words were muffled. Not an accident like Smitty’s daddy. No. Not my daddy. Please God.

“My Everett? Where he is per favore?”

Médecin d’examiner… I go home, wait news.

Grazie. grazie.” My mother’s voice cracked.

Mrs. Fournier flung the bedroom door hard in her haste towards the front door. I don’t believe she saw me. I reared back though my legs were leaden.

“Ma, Daddy’s going to be okay, right?”

“Shhh, Bella. No worry. Want nice glass milk? Where Caterina?”

“She’s—in bed—still sleeping. Mrs. Fournier put her down for her nap.”

Ma paced from kitchen to living-room to bedroom and back. Over and over again. I leaned on the windowsill, with one eye on the clock and the other on the road. I peeked at Ma now and again. Smitty and Franco were nowhere in sight. The floor creaked and complained in various spots beneath Ma’s endless wandering. I already knew each one by heart.


Twenty-eight stomach-churning minutes later, a taxi pulled up in front of our house. I’d only seen one once before. “Ma, why is a taxi here? Aren’t they for rich people?”

She made an awful noise. And then, I saw him.

“Ma’s forehead glistened; her face white as my sister’s new diapers. She grabbed my hand, a strangled cry lodged in her throat. She stumbled for the door like Frankenstein tugging at my arm, but I let go and rushed ahead. I dashed outside and down the stairs. A soon as he unfolded himself from the backseat, I exploded into his arms and almost knocked him over. He swayed against the car to catch his balance. I noticed the cane but it didn’t register. “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy…”

“I’m fine. See. Just a limp and a scratch.” He withdrew his bruised arm from the sling. With the other, he leaned the cane against his hip and reached into his pants pocket. I’d forgotten about the taxi.

Nien. No pay, Ev-rrett. We drink some beer soon, yah?” Mr. Schmitt, the driver, winked at me before he coaxed the taxi up the dusty street and out of sight.

Daddy hobbled towards Ma. I hung onto his jacket sleeve as if he’d vanish. Ma sagged against the doorway framework and slid down in slow motion, into a heap of clothing and useless limbs. She might have been a rag doll left propped against the doorjamb.

Her eyes fluttered. Claw-like hands covered her face and she began to wail, the sound sorrowful and lost. It reminded me of the loon’s cry on our lake: eerie and mournful; haunting and tragic. It was the kind of wail that made me feel helpless and more scared than I’d ever been in my whole life.

Daddy patted my shoulder and leaned over Ma. I let go of his sleeve. “Olivia, come inside. I. Am. All. Right.” He leaned hard on his new cane and extended the bruised hand. His voice came out in a hoarse whisper like he’d swallowed sandpaper, each word enunciated the way a person would with a mouthful of cotton. He cleared his throat several times. He reached for Ma’s lifeless hand and tugged. Rivers of tears zigzagged her cheeks; eyes staring, forgetting to blink. Her mouth quivered; hungry eyes devouring every inch of his face.

Caterina began to bawl. What timing. She was the baby and knew nothing about the accident. I knew a little and I wanted to shriek too.

I couldn’t leave yet. “Daddy?” My throat hurt to talk. “You won’t ever go back to that mine again, will you?” I committed to memory this tower of a man with a greed new to me. I don’t think he heard me. I wanted to stay, but my sister now howled. I rushed in to calm her though I had more important worries. I felt older than the eight-year-old girl I had been earlier in the day.

My Daddy had made it home—home in one piece. This time.

Smitty’s Daddy would never come home again. My Daddy made it home. Today, we were lucky.


© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


Author: Let's CUT the Crap!

I'm getting a little LONG in the tooth and have things to say about---ouch---AGEing. I believe it's certainly a state of mind but sometimes it's nice to hear that you're NORMAL. I enjoy reading by the truckload. I'm a grandma but I don't feel OLD although I'm not so young anymore. My plan is to stick it out as long as I can on this lovely planet and only will leave it kicking and screaming!

53 thoughts on “Tailspin (Part 2)

  1. Brilliant – powerful emotions with which we can all identify!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very powerful Tess. I was on the edge waiting to understand what was about to appear from the taxi. A happier ending than I anticipated.


  3. Oh thank God, I need good endings right now. I Hope he doesn’t go back.


    • What if it’s a mining town, in the middle of nowhere and the only source of income? What did people do who had no other choice? Best paying and all that.


      • I know….. 😦 But the fear of it all. And the bravery it took for families who feared that to pack up and move to something unknown and far away…..


      • Indeed, that’s how life used to be–the better paying jobs. I don’t know how the men managed to overcome their fears to support their family. Underground. How far beneath the surface? And accidents happened.
        Remember the news in recent years. OMG.


      • I remember. I live in an area where coal mining was a huge industry for many years. Accidents were terrifying. The fear of not being able to provide, the fear of not surviving….


  4. What read. I sucked up the words trying so fast to get to the end. I was so happy he was alive. Damaged, but alive. I hope he never has to go back but I am afraid of that reality that he will have too. Simply wonderful.


  5. I too was delighted to have the dad home. A powerful piece.


  6. I’m originally from a mining community so this story really strikes home.
    Excellent. More, more, more! 🙂


  7. One person’s happiness, another one’s sorrow. 😦


  8. Oh my. The awful choices we’re forced to make in the name of survival. I’m going to assume ‘daddy’ doesn’t go back to the mine.


  9. I was just thinking about this today and wondered if I had missed the second part. Great story!


  10. Couldn’t miss reading Part 2, loved the imagery which you are so good at Tess. The part where mum hung on like Frankenstein, that was brilliant, as I saw it. Life back then, working in the mines would have been stressful and hard. You depicted their story well darling. 💜💜


  11. Tess, you really need to write a book! You would need to let your readers know that once they start reading, they won’t be able to put it down until the last page!!
    I so enjoyed this tale – thank you!


  12. Excellent Tess, I read it holding my breathe!


  13. I had been looking forward to part two and it didn’t disappoint.


  14. Awe inspiring Tess. You had me on the edge of my seat and holding my breath for the entire little family. Perfectly done, truly.


  15. It deosn’t matter whether it’s true or not, the story is well written, thriller but good ending.


  16. Well written, Miss T… such a gripping story!


  17. Beautifully explored, Tess. Riveting.
    > I agree — writing emotionally charged scenes saps the energy. Huge hugs my friend. ❤ 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. You have the rare and proficient knack of capturing your reader’s attention. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I thought, “I want to find a book the reads like this. I haven’t found piece of writing this good in years”. Please do write a book, you will be enriching the literary world.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I love the tales of immigrants. They’re so much more interesting than the ones about those of us who are ‘locals’.
    Do you know Italian? I don’t but I do know a tiny bit of German.
    This scene was so well done, Tess. ❤


  20. Excellent. The emotions are so real. Well done. 🙂


  21. Beautiful imagery….I could see it all happening as I read it. 🙂


  22. Marvelous writing, Tess. My eyes were glued to the monitor. So evocative, and your descriptions and word choice…perfectly precise. Brava!


  23. Very powerful, I didn’t know what to expect. Great job ❤ 🙂


  24. Stomach-churning minutes … that pretty well says it all, doesn’t it? We’ve all experienced them and that horrible suspension of time wondering what will happen on the other side. As you demonstrated, even relief has a measure of pain in equal proportions to the fear.
    Great story, Tess!


  25. I enjoyed this Tess. You manage to hold the reader’s attention throughout, I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know what happened next. Kevin


  26. Hi Tess. I have nominated you for an award. You can find the details here, ( All the best. Kevin


  27. Very strong writing, and I enjoyed it. Especially because even though it was heavy, it had a happy ending. Great posts!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. ‘It was the kind of wail that made me feel helpless and more scared than I’d ever been in my whole life.’ Oh Tess, I lived this story through Bella’s eight year old eyes, I was hooked from the moment I began and to the very end, scanning every word until I reached the happy ending, phew!! Beautiful, powerful, strong writing, loved this. You take my breath away very talented lady that you are… ❤ ❤ ❤


  29. Love your stories Tess, especially the way you build anticipation. 🙂


Some things in life are complicated. Let's keep it simple.

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s