Flash Fiction: Tommy

Welcome to Spot Writers! The prompt for this month is to use at least three of the following words: tremble, start, tiptoe, yank, dresser. This week’s contribution is from Kathy L. Price, author of Down the nanoTubes (www.kathylprice.com), soon to be released.


by Kathy L. Price

She had thought everything was under control so she had slipped down to the basement for a minute to start the next round of laundry. It was too quiet, she thought, as she ascended the stairs. Her sixth sense had prickled and she was suddenly on edge. With an infant, a toddler and a six-year-old in the house, there should have been more noise. Brad had been watching a video in the living room. Tommy had been in his room and while it was supposed to be “quiet time” he had been making “zoom, zoom, brrrrrrrrring” noises as he ran his trucks and cars around on the floor.  She’d fed the baby and had put him down for a nap, so she didn’t expect him to be fussing yet, but still, there was something wrong.


As she reached the top of the stairs, Carla glanced out the kitchen window. Brad had taken advantage of her brief absence to escape to the back yard and was out on the swing. He wasn’t supposed to go out unless he told her he was going, but she’d deal with that later. At least he had turned off the TV first. She’d have to praise him for that but she wanted to check on the younger boys before going outside.


Quietly slipping into the baby’s room, Carla tiptoed to the crib, hoping the old wooden floor wouldn’t creak. He appeared to be fine – sleeping peacefully. She watched him breath softly for awhile, just to make sure, and a tiny bubble burst from his lips. Could she love him any more deeply? For a woman who had sworn she would never have children, here she was with three, each one special, each one precious. She blew him a little air kiss and moved back into the hall.


Tommy’s bedroom door was open but she couldn’t hear anything from inside. Maybe he had fallen asleep. He was still young enough to need a nap but always resisted when she cajoled and pleaded with him to lie down. She’d found the best tactic was to just tell him to “play quietly” so he wouldn’t wake his new brother and he’d usually fall asleep on his own.


What she saw when she entered the room shattered her world. There was blood everywhere. The tall, narrow dresser lay on the floor. Tommy must have pulled open the drawers and used them as stairs to climb to the top of the dresser. It couldn’t take all that weight, high up on the front, and had fallen forward, pinning Tommy’s legs and smashing his head into the heavy wooden toy box at the foot of the bed.


“Nooooo,” Carla cried as she raced to her son. The old dresser was heavy but she lifted it off as gently as she could, trying to keep the top drawers from falling out so they wouldn’t hurt him again. Her lower lip began to tremble and her hands shook as she turned back to her little boy.


“Mommy?” he said, as he opened his eyes. “It fell.”


“I know, baby. Just lie still.” She grabbed a freshly washed, neatly folded pillowcase that had fallen from the top of the dresser to the floor. She needed to stop the bleeding but was afraid to move him in case he’d broken his neck. What was she to do? She had to stop the bleeding but she also had to get help.


Moving him as little as possible, she gently slid the cotton pillowcase under his head, thinking ‘direct, even pressure, direct even pressure, direct even pressure’ as she’d been taught in an emergency first aid class decades earlier. Head wounds were notorious for bleeding profusely and Tommy had already lost a lot of blood.


“Lie still and wait here a minute while Mommy calls Uncle Scott,” she told him. Carla raced out to the kitchen and dialed 911. The paramedics, Scott and Sue, lived just across the street but Carla didn’t know if they were home or not. She gave the necessary information to the 911 operator, then yanked opened the kitchen door to call out to Brad.


“Chowder,” she yelled. It was their family code for an emergency situation. It was not to be used lightly, but when it was issued, the response by everyone had to be immediate, with no questions asked and no dawdling.


Carla raced back to Tommy, Brad following behind.


“What’d he do?” Brad asked.


“He climbed the dresser and it fell. Go wait by the front door for Uncle Scott or Aunt Sue.”


The chaos of the next few weeks merged into a large blur of doctors, hospitals, and eventually, the mortuary. It was the most difficult thing she had ever had to do – to pick out such a tiny casket, to bury such bright-eyed potential. There’d be no more little butterfly kisses on her cheek or chocolate chip cookie parties or discovering new bugs in the backyard. She tried hard to rally for baby Aaron’s sake, to make good memories for him, and for Brad, but the hole in her heart made it hard for her to smile.


Despite people telling her it was a tragic accident, “Don’t beat yourself up about it,” she couldn’t help but blame herself.  It would have been such an easy thing, to have attached the dresser to the wall: a few minutes of her time, a simple bracket, a couple of screws.

 * * *


The Spot Writers- our members:

RC Bonitz: http://www.rcbonitz.com


Val Muller: http://valmuller.com/blog/


Catherine A. MacKenzie: http://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/


Kathy Price: http://www.kathylprice.com

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