The rundown red four-door car showed up on the pull-off along her country road at least once a week. At first Adele didn’t pay much attention to it. But soon curiosity snuck up on her like one of the barn cats, and she found she was intrigued by the goings-on of the red car. She would watch out the front picture window to get a glimpse of that red car. Not too many cars passed on her road that she didn’t know. Market trucks came and went on Thursdays carrying vegetables grown on the farm. Mail arrived each day in the early afternoon. Ladies from her church came every other Wednesday for cards and coffee. Neighbors’ cars would pass and honk, even if no one was outside or visibly around. The reoccurring honks sent a hello and let the Baker’s know someone was thinking of them and noticed they were still there. As the years went by, more families built their homes on nearby plots of inexpensive land and their cars went by early morning and late afternoon for work and school. Those cars didn’t often honk, but Adele always waved anyway. So when the unfamiliar red car began showing up, Adele felt a right to know who and what was going on with that car.
She finally decided that the car contained a young girl and boy, probably late teens. They were definitely doing some kind of smoking, Adele concluded. What kind exactly, she wasn’t sure. She could tell that it was a newer, attractive car and they were well dressed. They were loud occasionally; music and laughter flowed out of the open windows. Adele considered going out to them several times and asking them to leave. Each time she pictured a confrontation that ended with her feeling old and the kids laughing and maybe even bringing more of their friends the next time. She imagined them making fun of her old lady ways and in the end, she figured they weren’t doing anyone any harm. Oddly, if they didn’t show up for a few days, she wondered where they were, or if they had found better spot to conduct their foolishness. Soon school would begin, she told herself, and then she was sure they would stop coming.
Then one day toward the end of the summer, there were more than just happy noises coming from the red car.
Adele heard yelling, even some screaming. Someone sounded hurt or in pain. Adele quickly rounded the farmhouse from where she had been weeding the flowerbeds. Her heart began to race as she came closer to the car.
As her steps brought her across the field and nearer to the red car, she began to see that it was the girl who seemed to be in pain and that the boy was pacing, grabbing his curly hair and talking to himself. The girl squirmed in the back seat. Adele approached them, her hands wringing the gardening apron around her waist.
“Excuse me, can I help you?”
The boy whipped his head around in Adele’s direction. She saw that he was young, younger than she had imagined. His brown curly hair was now matted with sweat from his pacing and the summer humidity.
“She’s…she was fine…and then…we didn’t think...she just started grabbing her stomach…I…I don’t know…if her parents….oh man…I…I gotta go.” With that he ran off in the direction of the grove of trees by the cemetery.
A whimper from the girl brought Adele’s attention back to the car. Adele stepped gingerly around the red car’s back door, which was open to the grass along the pull-off. Adele peeked through the open door. The girl was sitting against the other back door. Her legs were spread awkwardly across the seat and floor. She was cringing, her face red and sweaty. That’s when Adele made a startling discovery. The girl was pregnant.
Adele just stared. She lost track of where she was. She stepped back. She looked around. It was about ten o’clock. No one would be by for at least a couple of hours. The Nelson’s usually went by at lunchtime on their way…
A scream from the girl jarred Adele back to the moment. Her instinct was to move closer, and she did. Quick exchanges between clenched teeth filled in some of the details about what and why this was happening.
Adele began to think and act quickly. Scanning the car for anything soft and warm, she gently talked to the girl. Adele began talking about her own children and their births. How James, and Ed came early and she barely made it to the hospital. The others were equally hurried trips to the local hospital with Mr. Baker waving a white handkerchief out the window, because that was what he thought he was supposed to do. She spoke of how the girls, Ella and Jenny, took longer to deliver once they got there and she worried she’d lose her energy before they needed to make their entrance. John had been the most beautiful experience of them all. It was a calm, quick birth and she enjoyed it mostly knowing it was going to be her last baby. Adele told the girl how John and his wife had been trying to have their own for almost four years now, with no luck. She began to talk of God’s will. Then the girl looked Adele straight into her eyes.
“Please. Help me."
Adele found a few things that might be helpful to help the young girl with this inevitable event that was definitely happening right here in this nice, new car. And then she spoke clearly.
“Of course, dear. That’s why I’m here.”
The next few minutes were a bit of a fog as the girl bore down and in a swift miracle delivered a beautiful baby boy. Adele was laughing, smiling and trying to show the girl her new, small and crying gift. But she wasn’t looking. In fact, it seemed she was still pushing.
Adele looked down.
Another head was crowning.