The New Day
by Hazel K. Todd
Lynn packed her luggage carefully while it was still early morning.
Aunt Polly had arisen long before sun-up and picked fresh rhubarb. Now she was making pie. There was already gingerbread on the cupboard, fresh strawberry jam, and a pan of chicken ready to be fried.
“My goodness, Aunt Polly, you’d think it was Thanksgiving or something with all this baking,” Lynn said, coming into the aromatic kitchen.
“I thought you might like a lunch to nibble on, on the way. If this David boy is like other men, he likes to eat.”
“I’m sure he does,” Lynn laughed. “And he will be happy, I’m sure, to know he’s marrying into such good cooking.”
“Don’t say such things. You might give me a swelled head.” Aunt Polly was trying to be jovial. But she added seriously, “It has been wonderful cooking for you again!”
Then they didn’t say any more.
All day Lynn waited anxiously. She started watching the rod long ahead of time.
“It’s a long way to Chicago,” Aunt Polly said once.
Lynn laughed a little. “I guess I’m just too anxious.”
Once she went out and walked around the yard. “If I could just have helped Johnny,” she said, “it would have been so much easier to leave.”
And then she saw the tiny speck far off in the distance. And she knew it was David. Even before she could see the gray and green color of the car, she knew it was he.
“Aunt Polly,” she said. “I think he is coming!”
Aunt Polly came and stood beside her.
“Aunt Polly,” Lynn said, “keep trying to help Johnny.”
Aunt Polly didn’t answer.
The big gray car was coming up the hill now. Lynn gave Aunt Polly a quick kiss and went out the door.
She walked to the gate and stood waiting. And then, in a minute David’s arms were about her.
“Lynn, my darling,” he said holding her head against his shoulder. “It seems as if you’ve been gone a year instead of a week.”
“Does it really?”
She held to his hand then. “But, come, Aunt Polly is waiting to look you over. She has cooked such a feast we can never eat it all.”
They walked up the path holding hands, to the house where Aunt Polly was waiting …
It was difficult to say goodbye. Even the delicious breakfast of blueberry muffins and scrambled eggs hadn’t taken away the sharp edge.
“I never knew I was such a crybaby,” Aunt Polly said.
But she couldn’t seem to do anything about it. She stood holding the corner of her apron to her eyes. “Oh, go on, get out before I start all over again.”
“We must see her often,” David said, as they walked to the car.
“It’s a promise,” Lynn said, and then she saw Peter, almost upon her. His face was flushed from running, his shirt tail stuck out, and his chest was heaving.
“You got to help me. Lindy’s sick!” he panted.
In horror, Lynn looked down into his face.
“Her knee hurts. It’s all big and red.”
The cut by the turkey nest! The iodine! She had not used it!
“What is the matter?” David asked, looking at the frightened boy. “Who is this child?”
“He is Johnny’s boy,” Lynn said. “His little sister cut her leg badly the day I called you.”
“My Dad had to go before Lindy woke up. That MayRee woman told me to always call her number, but I forgot it,” Peter said unhappily.
“But I can find it,” Lynn said, seizing the ray of hope. And then she stooped and put her arm around Peter. “I am going away to Chicago to live,” she said. “But MayRee will always be here to help you. I’ll find her right now. She is a nurse and will know just what to do for Lindy.”
In the house Lynn explained briefly to Aunt Polly, and then waited for the hospital to find MayRee.
“But I guess you know you got me sent home the other night,” MayRee said to Lynn’s second invitation to go to Johnny’s house.
“Please try again.”
“What am I supposed to do this time?”
“That day before you came Lindy fell and cut her knee. I wrapped it up. Now Peter is all excited. He says that Lindy is sick, that her knee is red and swollen.”
“But Peter could have called me if he wanted to. I told him to.”
“He forgot your number. He’s all confused.”
There was a slight hesitation. “But Johnny will just send me home.”
“Johnny isn’t there now. Anyway, MayRee, somebody’s got to help them. I’m going back to Chicago. I won’t be here any more. Don’t you think it would be better for you? You will always be here. And besides, you are a nurse and know what to do.”
MayRee sighed. “Very well, Lynn. I guess I’ll always keep trying.”
“Please do. And please let me know as soon as you can, how Lindy is. I’ll be waiting here.”
“It may take only a few minutes, if Johnny comes. I may be back before you get your hat off.”
But it was an hour before the phone rang.
Lynn held the receiver with trembling hands. “MayRee?” she asked eagerly.
“Lindy is all right, Lynn, just a real sore knee, with a dose of infection. I’m taking her to the hospital for penicillin.”
“Oh, MayRee, I am so glad.”
“Yes, it could have been serious soon.”
“Johnny … did he come?”
“Yes, he came just when I had the bandage off and it looked the worst.”
“He didn’t send you home then?”
“No. because I scared him half to death. I made him think Lindy was sick enough to die. He was glad to have me stay. If you have been wondering, Lynn, if he loves those children, you don’t have to any more. He adores them.”
“Oh, I’m sure he does, but …”
“He promised to change his ways, to … to forget the past. He promised to let me help him.”
“MayRee, I am so happy.”
There was a faint sob.
“Lynn, do you – do you think some day maybe I could be a good stepmother?”
Lynn smiled to herself. “The best in the world, MayRee.” She hesitated a moment. “Will you do something for me?”
“Just tell Johnny we said goodbye as the best of friends.”
There was a slight pause.
“But I … Why don’t you tell him yourself? He’s with Lindy. I’ll get him.”
“But I’m not sure he would talk to me.”
“I think he would now, Lynn. Wait just a minute.”
Lynn waited calmly until she heard him pick up the receiver.
“I just wanted to say goodbye.”
“Thank you, Lindy.”
“You have darling children, Johnny.”
He paused. “I … I want to thank you for being so kind to them. They adore you.”
“I will be looking forward to seeing all of you when I visit Aunt Polly.”
“Lynn, can you forgive me for being – for being that way?”
“Of course, Johnny. I have been foolish, too. But that is all in the past. Remember, this is a new day, a bright new day, with all the world before us.”
“Yes,” he said, “I will try to remember.”
She wiped the tears from her eyes and wondered why she was crying when she was so happy.
And then she hung the phone on the old worn hook, kissed Aunt Polly again, and went to find David who was waiting for her in the porch swing.