|A Novel By
Deanna G. Wolff
ON THE DAY that Charles Weybrith Denner entered into this world, it was unusually warm in Oakridge, Pennsylvania. The year was 1915 and the brilliant late October sun shone high above the dirt roads and amber fields, and the breeze was a like a sweet breath from heaven. Dry leaves in orange and ochre danced across the town square, only to find themselves trapped in a doorway or under an old wooden bench. And the birds who hadn’t made their way south for the winter yet, twittered and frolicked in the bare trees as if it were the first day of spring. Halfway across the world, a war full of horrible, violent deaths was being fought, but inside the Oakridge General Hospital, there was a child being born.
A tear of joy slowly rolled down Virginia Denner’s left cheek as the nurse laid her newborn son in the crook of her arm. She marvelled at the boy’s round, wrinkled, pudgy face, and smiled as she gently ran a hand across his little bald head. She gingerly lifted the blanket and pinched each one of his little fingers and toes, and wriggled them back and forth until she was satisfied that they were normal little fingers and toes. She touched his cheeks and his small, protruding belly, which to her, was like poking a finger into a big ball of dough.
Charlie was perfect. And so he should be because he was, after all, a miracle baby. The doctors said that Ginny wouldn’t be able to have a baby on account of her abnormally small womb. But here she was, cradling her own child, borne from her own flesh and blood.
Charlie’s father waited patiently in the hospital’s musty waiting room for news of his wife’s delivery.
“Congratulations, Mr. Denner. You are the father of a healthy baby boy,” the doctor announced as he entered the waiting room.
“How is my wife doing?” Joseph whispered his concern.
“She’s doing fine, Mr. Denner. Both your son and your wife are fine. The delivery couldn’t have gone any better.”
Joey’s tummy warmed and fluttered as he realized that he was now a father. The father of a healthy baby boy. A boy that was born against all odds. A miracle baby. His baby. His son.
“You can go in and see them now, Mr. Denner.”
Joey slowly rose from the creaking, wooden chair. His light-headedness caused him to stagger towards the delivery room.
“Hello, darling,” he said as he lightly kissed his wife’s forehead. “How are you doing?”
“I’m fine. Take a look at your son.” Ginny carefully handed Charlie over to her husband. “He’s beautiful, Joey. He’s really beautiful. And he’s perfect.”
Joey sniffed happily as he took his newborn son into his arms, making sure to hold the tiny boy’s head the way Ginny taught him with a doll at home. “We are truly blessed, my love,” he squeaked. “We are truly blessed.”
“We couldn’t ask for anything more,” Ginny replied with a wide, toothy grin.
IN THE FOLLOWING days, Joseph worked harder than ever before at his job in the town’s barber shop. He cut the unruly hair and shaved or trimmed the wiry beards of the rich men who worked in the city nearby, so he could earn a better living for his family. Day in and day out, Joey stood over his customers’ heads as they read the financial section of the daily newspaper or just stared at themselves in the mirror. The only sounds heard were the snip-snip of Joey’s scissors or the rustling of a newspaper.
Joey looked at his client’s reflection in the mirror. “How is that, Mr. Richardson?”
“Excellent, Joseph, as always. Do you think I’m going more grey?”
“Mr. Richardson, we are all going more grey. Be happy that you still have a full head of hair.”
Mr. Richardson chuckled. “You’re absolutely right, Joseph. I’ll see you next month,” he said as he bestowed his quarter to Joey.
Joey was always friendly with his customers. They talked about the war, President Woodrow Wilson, or other current events, but he knew he was not on the same level as the well-to-do men that sat in his bright red barber’s chair. He thought about practically nothing else but his new baby boy at home, yet he would never discuss his personal life with his clients. Sometimes he felt like he would burst, but in this business, personal things were kept, well, personal. And everyday he worked hard, standing on his feet, sweeping the floor, smiling cheerfully at his clients, so that he could provide a decent life for his family.
Still, financially, times were tough for the Denners, although they were very rich in family, friends, and kind neighbors. Everyone knew that the Denners were astonished to discover that Ginny was with child. It was a miracle and these generous people in the Denners’ lives helped them in any way they could. They gave the Denners hand-me-downs to help clothe Charlie and other old garments that would be cut and sewn into other usable clothing by Ginny’s nimble, talented hands. They gave the Denners milk and eggs, fat drippings from the meat they cooked, and vegetables from their prosperous gardens.
This is not to say that the Denners didn’t have their own garden or chickens or pigs. They did. It’s just that the arrival of a child that they thought would never happen was as surprising as Christmas in July would be, so they needed whatever help they could get. In an area on the outskirts of a small town, during a time when everyone helped everyone – whether it was a gate that needed fixing or a cow that needed slaughtering - it was only natural that the community pitched in and lived as a large extended family.
READERS: I would appreciate any input or comments on my story, even though it might difficult not knowing what the actual story is about. I have written several chapters so far and will post them in time. Thank you so much and cheers!