Daddy sat pale faced in the worn and faded easy chair. He started to speak but coughed, finally rasped, “Carol Dawn, I’ve got to have some medicine.”
Outside the ground and roads were covered with four inches of new snow. “Take the car,” he said, “go to Dr. Foley’s office. Tell him I’m too sick to come myself.” Questions came to mind: What do I say if the police stop me and see that I’m eleven years old? How am I supposed to get through the snow? How in the world does anybody think I can drive all the way to Loyall and back? I asked none of them, but pulled corduroy pants on over my flannel pajamas as well as a shirt, sweater and coat. I found the broom and some cardboard in the kitchen to clear the snow off the car. After placing the last two logs on the fire, I opened the front door. Snow blew all around. Boughs of trees were hanging low enough to touch.
First, I swept lose snow off the top of the car and then removed the settled snow with the cardboard. The blue metal began to show and the windows and windshield yielded to my efforts. My fingers ached with the cold but my palms were sweating. My stomach knotted.
I dragged another log into the house, got the keys and said, ‘I’ll hurry.”
Daddy looked up with alarm. “No, honey, don’t hurry. Be careful.” I kissed him on his forehead. It was hot.
I high-stepped back onto the snow covered porch and made my way to the car. The door stuck. “Oh, shoot.” I pulled and pulled again and the door creaked open. I struggled to adjust the seat forward, reach the pedals and insert the key into the ignition all the while my hands were shaking and my knees were knocking. I turned the car around without running into the house and, more or less, got onto the drive to the road. As I eased onto U.S. Highway 119, the back of the car went side to side. My heart was bout to beat it’s way out of my chest, but I managed to steer the car slowly and continued on as straight as possible considering all the curves. At every bend in the road, the back end slid out again, but a little less with each one.
The sky was bleak with clouds hanging close, but the snow was white and beautiful. A fairy land. Alone out here in the vastness, I felt lost, excited and afraid. When forever had come and gone, I made the left turn across the culvert into Loyall and parked at the doctor’s office. “Christmas Eve,” read the sign on the door, “Closed until December 26th.” I choked back a cry and knocked anyway. Silence. Hoping against hope, I knocked again, harder–louder. Dr. Foley opened the door. “Daddy’s sick,” I cried. “He sent me for medicine.” Dr. Foley asked me why Daddy hadn’t driven himself and a bunch of other questions. I told him Daddy looked bad, that he just sat in the chair and shivered and coughed. The doctor rubbed his face and looked thoughtful. He knew we had no phone, no money and he knew the condition of the roads. I could see him struggle to decide what to do. Finally, he looked at me and asked if I’d mind leaving Daddy’s car next to his office. “No,” I said slowly, wondering if I might have to walk home.
“I need to see your dad,” he said, “so no need for two cars. You can ride home back with me and when your dad is better, he can pick up the car.” I let out my breath.
“Thank-you, Dr. Foley.”
Dr. Foley drove me home sliding around the curves and muttering under his breath. We didn’t talk. He examined Daddy, declared he had pneumonia and gave him a penicillin shot. He also handed me a brown envelope of pills and told me how often Daddy should take them. Daddy thanked him and asked if Carol Dawn could get him something to eat or drink. He said, “Maybe a glass of water would taste good.” As I was going to get the water, I heard Dr. Foley say, “Nath, You have a resourceful young daughter. Not many her age could do what she did this morning. Take good care of her.” Then he told Daddy about the car left next to his office.
As I came back into the living room, Daddy was saying, I’m a lucky man too have her.” He thanked Dr. Foley again and asked, “How much do we owe you, Doc?”
Dr. Foley smiled and reached over to shake my hand and said, “No charge today, Merry Christmas.
“Merry Christmas to you too, Dr. Foley. Thanks for helping Daddy.
Postscript: Desperate times call for desperate measures. You may question how a father could send his much loved daughter on such an errand, but without help, he might have died or developed a chronic condition. I hope there’s a lot of love in your Christmas and I add mine to it.
Is this story credible? Is the narrator reliable? Are the characters likable and relateable?