Vee was running. Up the street, past the grocer, the police station and Mrs. Abel’s Millinery-
She ran with the wind at her back, laughing and singing to the beautiful day.
“Vee!” her mother called, waving a dishrag from their fifth floor window.
“Vee! Home for lunch now!”
Vee nodded, ran back and started climbing the tenement steps two at a time but her feet hurt and as she looked down she saw her feet all red with blood, and then they were blood and hurting horribly.
“Veronica!” came her mother’s voice again, strangely angry.
Vee looked from her feet up to the window where the dishrag fell away from her mother’s limp hand. Her face burned and
“Veronica! Wake up!”
Nurse Margaret, hand raised to slap, was next to the hospital bed, her hatchet face dark with anger.
“I don’t know why an ignorant beggar child should be such trouble! You complained about me to Dr. Aust again, didn’t you?”
“I’m sorry, ma’am, but I only asked…”
“You asked to be moved next to the window. I decide the bed arrangements on this floor and you don’t need a view.”
“You need to quit whining and crying to get your way. You’re no princess to be waited on! Just trouble, an orphan who should keep her mouth shut!”
Nurse Margaret pulled back the blankets and pointed.
“There! Look! Your feet won’t grow back- you will be an invalid, a nuisance and worthless all your life!”
Vee shut her eyes as Nurse Margaret stalked away, cursing the misfortune of having such a child on her ward.
Pulling the blankets up to her chin, she wanted to cry but had no tears left.
Mother and Father and Jack.
A picnic outing, where the Chicago World’s Fair had taken place a few years earlier.
They were excited to be riding the elevated train, watching the buildings whizz past so close that at times it seemed that you could almost touch them.
Mother in her best, lunchbasket at her feet. Father looking dignified in his suit, Jack running up and down the train car as it sped across the sky.
He cheered as the Ferris Wheel came into view but then the train lurched sharply, grinding noises so loudly, and…it fell.
Vee didn’t think her father could be scared, but he looked frightened, locking eyes with his wife.
Jack ran and tried to brace, to protect his little sister in the few seconds before it all went dark and she awoke in a hospital bed with bandages where there should have been feet.
Vee felt her face and wondered if it was red. Soon she was asleep, and no more dreams.
When she woke the next morning, her bed was next to the window; she could see it was a warm summer day.
Two Lemon drops landed on her bed and she turned to see Dr. Aust smiling. He knew they were Vee's favorite treat.
“Good morning, Veronica. Did you sleep well last night?”
“Good morning, Dr. Aust. Yes, I did, and thank you for the lemon drops and for moving me to the window. It’s beautiful outside today!”
Dr. Aust reminded Vee of her Grandfather, except instead of a butcher’s apron he wore a nice suit.
He was smiling, but a frown clouded his face for a moment as he pulled a paper from his pocket.
“Vee, I know what happened last night, and I’m sorry that Miss Hampton acted so horribly towards you. She has been dismissed, and she won’t be mistreating you anymore.”
“Doctor! I’m sorry! I didn’t…”
“You have nothing to be sorry for, child. One of the other nurses witnessed what she did, and told me. I apologize to you on behalf of the hospital, and I must beg you forgiveness for something else.”
He handed her a postcard.
“Veronica, this card came for you some time ago, and Miss Hampton…kept it. It was in her locker and I’m sorry that I didn’t know about it until now.”
Vee read the card, postmarked two months earlier, four…no…five weeks after the accident.
I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to get back again to see you, but you have a home here with us as soon as the doctor releases you.
You will be like our own daughter, and my sister will be smiling down on us from Heaven- we are family. Have the hospital send word and Henry and I will come for you when you are ready. Love, Emily.
Dr. Aust pulled up a chair and sat.
“I met them, Vee, when they came to see you-you wouldn’t remember, as we had you medicated for the pain. They’re good people-have you been to their place before?”
“Once we went for a Christmas visit-snow was up higher than our heads, and they met us at the station with a sled and two horses! No buildings at all! Just empty prairies and a few trees all the way to their farm.”
“I grew up on a farm myself. Do they have cattle?”
“A couple of cows, some pigs, chickens and a garden. My aunt makes the best pies!”
Aust smiled. “I’m sure that she does, Vee. That postmark says Topeka-do they live close to there?”
“I think so, though Mom talked about growing up near Hays.”
“I’ve been there, and it’s a nice town. Vee… I want you to think about something.”
“Your life is…changed. We all have things happen that we didn’t expect, and the best way to keep moving forward and doing well is to not let your troubles hinder you.”
“Doctor, I think Nurse Margaret has been…hindered. She’s not very happy.”
“I think you’re right. You’re a bright girl, Vee, and I’m sure that you will do well in life. You don't know, but I delivered you when you were born, and I knew your parents well.”
“Mother pointed you out on the street once and told me how nice you are.”
“She did? Well, bless her. You’ll be starting a new chapter in your life; it’s important to make the most of a fresh start.”
“I’ve had a lot of time to think, here in this bed, and when I go to Kansas, and I want to use my middle name, which was my mother’s first name.
It will remind me of her and Dad and Jack every time someone calls me Dorothy.”
“That sounds like a fine idea. Do you remember anything else about the farm?”
“Well, I slept in a big, big bed with lots of quilts, and on the wall facing there was a cross-stitch Aunt Em had done: “BE IT EVER SO HUMBLE,
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME”.
That night, after watching the moon come up, Vee dreamt of Kansas.
Dorothy was running...