Rescued and Delivered (Between Breath & Suffocation Sec. 7)

“I think they were her real babies,” I told Dr. Davenport. “But I don’t think they ever lived.”
“What makes you say that?”
“From what I overheard.”
“What did you hear?”
I turned in my chair, avoiding his deep, concerned stare.
“You think she had other children? Besides you, your sister, and brothers?”
“I think so…” I swung my legs back and forth. “The basement was filled with them.”
“What do you mean?”
“Not real babies, reminders of the babies she lost.”
“And how did what you overheard lead you to believe that the babies in the basement represented real babies?”
“Grandma Betty said that god had taken their souls.”


Mother sat on the basement floor with the bloody knife, rubbing the blade up and down her hand. Sage and I stood on the top step teary eyed, Grandma Betty behind us.

“Why didn’t you call me, Sage?”

Sage lowered her head. I pressed my face into her arm and gripped her hand tight.

“We didn’t want her to get in trouble,” I said. But this was only half true. I didn’t tell her that we had entered our Mother’s haunted world more than once, that it didn’t feel strange to us anymore. That some nights Sage and I chased her through the Juniper trees, running as fast as we could; our hearts beating hard, our breaths short and shallow. That on these nights we too were wild and delusional, lost, driven by the familiarity of confusion. That we had become just as protective of this world though we didn’t fully understand its dangers.

“Well…I don’t know what to say…only god can fix this mess.”

First the police arrived. Next the paramedics. Then god.

“Take the kids outside,” Officer Jim ordered.

Grandma Betty led the four armed policemen to the basement steps as Aunt Mary shooed us outside. We sat on the front porch, our ears straining to hear what was going on. Muffled screams poured through the screen door. Heavy objects crashed into the walls, aimed at the officers’ heads I imagined. Minutes later the same four men with white, rubber gloves headed for the front door, this time carrying our mother—her hands and ankles cuffed, a netted guard over her face. Officer Jim was on the left with one hand under her arm. Officer Rob was on the right. Officer Phil and Officer Mike had her legs, keeping them bent towards her back.

“Little one,” she screamed when she saw me.”

I ran over to her before Sage could stop me.

“Get the kids,” Officer Jim yelled at Aunt Mary.

The paramedics greeted the officers with a stretcher.

“Don’t let them take my babies,” Mother cried. “Please don’t take my babies.” She squirmed.
Aunt Mary pushed us back inside the house. It felt empty. We clung to each other as the shrill of sirens faded.


“Why would your grandmother say that?” Dr. Davenport asked.
“Because…that’s what she believed happened,” I shrugged.


Grandma Betty hired a cleaning crew to come and clear out the house. They brought their own dumpster and by the end of the day it was filled with years of memories. And when they got to the basement, they put on thick, yellow suits, masks, long, rubber gloves, and ankle-high boots. They put the contents in sealed containers and stripped the basement of all contaminants. Like the rest of the house, when they were done, it looked clean but marred, reminders of a life we’d have to learn to reject. Father Aaron came and blessed each room. We followed behind in awe as cross and oil met again and again.

Over the next few weeks delivery men filled the house with furniture. Aunt Mary brought groceries and dishes and then left, returning each week with more food and cleaning supplies. Grandma Betty enforced order: three meals a day, chores, discipline, Catholic school, and bible study. It was a routine we craved. We met girls our own age, ventured out to the county fair, got haircuts, sang in the choir, and got parts in the Christmas play. Happiness snuck into the space our mother left behind. And the longer she was away, the less our dreams mirrored disaster.

Three months later she called.

Grandma Betty, Sage, and I were in the kitchen preparing dinner. Sage and I set the table. She folded cloth napkins and laid forks, knives, and spoons on top. I grabbed three glasses and filled them with square ice-cubes. Sage filled our plates and then our glasses. Steam poured from the spaghetti mound. Ice cubes shrunk as warm pop trickled into our glasses. Grandma Betty remembered the bread she had put in the bread box. She put some slices on a saucer and brought it to the table. We ate until our bellies bulged then retreated to the living room where we took turns reading bible scriptures.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God…” I started when it was my turn, but was interrupted by the phone.

Sage brought the phone to Grandma Betty and we stared as she answered.

“It’s your mother,” she whispered, putting her hand over the receiver.
“You sound good, Marcy. How is everything going?
“The girls are good,” Sage and I looked at each other and smiled.
“You can have visitors now…that’s good…
“Let me talk to Mary…I’ll see when she can take the girls…
“That’s the best I can do right now, Marcy. I don’t have a car to bring them.
“I understand you want to see them, and you will.
“The house is fine…
“What do you mean did I touch anything? Marcy…
“We had to clean…it was a mess.
“Calm down…Marcy, I can’t understand you if you scream at me.
“I didn’t take your babies…
“That’s right Sebastian Margolis took your babies…
“He beat them out of you…
“Yes, he did…he beat them out of you…
“I didn’t do anything with your babies…god took their souls.”
Grandma Betty motioned for us to leave the room. “Get ready for bed.”
“Yes, ma’am,” we said in unison.

I climbed into bed with Sage that night. She was the only one I knew could protect me from the past. The veil Grandma Betty had so carefully placed was now torn, compromised, and darkness had found its way back in.

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