"An excellent way to spend your time, and
you feel good after you've read it!"
~Robin, a reader
Copyright 2015 by Jo Huddleston
Morgantown, West Virginia
Julie stepped out of the shower, grabbed a towel from the rack, and twisted it around her short, wet hair. As she wrapped a second towel around her body, the telephone rang. She tucked the end of the towel against her skin so it wouldn’t slip and took the few steps to pick up the phone in the living room.
She cleared her throat to speak those first hoarse words of the morning.
“Is this Julia Capshaw?”
Her friends here at the university called her Julie. This caller must be somebody from home. Everyone there called her by her given name, Julia, as her daddy did. “Yes, this is Julia Capshaw Montagna.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, Julia. After all this time, I can’t get used to you being married and living up there at West Virginia University. Julia, this is Hank, your daddy’s supervisor at his Coaltown coal mine.”
“What’s wrong, Hank? Why are you calling? Has something happened to Daddy?” Nothing can happen to Daddy! Since he moved her mother into the rest home in Charleston, he’d lived alone in that big house. Had he fallen?
“Well, Julia, a little bad news.”
Why won’t he just tell her? “What is it, Hank? Tell me.”
“It’s Mr. Capshaw, your daddy. He came to the coal mine earlier than usual this morning. I was already in the tipple. Said he didn’t sleep much last night. When we climbed up the slope to the mouth of the mine, he collapsed.”
“Hank, is my daddy okay?”
“Well, Julia, I got the ambulance to come over from the next county. Them boys got him hooked up to oxygen. They took him to Charleston, and I followed in my car. I’m here at the hospital now.”
“Which hospital, Hank?”
“We’re at Charleston General.”
“Are they telling you anything, Hank? What’s wrong with Daddy?”
“They’re doing tests on him now. They think it’s his heart. Won’t know for sure till they finish all the tests.”
“Hank, how long can you stay there at the hospital?”
“I’m staying all day. I’ll have to get back to the family by night.”
“I’ll have to speak to a few people here before I can leave school. I’ll be there before you have to go home. I’ll get there as soon as I can.”
“Okay, Julia. I figured you’d want to be with your daddy. I haven’t talked to him since we got to the hospital. But I’ll be right here when they say I can see him.”
“Thank you, Hank. I’ll see you before long.”
Julie hung up the phone and hurried to finish up after her shower. She’d let her hair dry on its own—no time for the hair dryer. Dressed in a skirt and blouse, Julie pushed her socked feet into her loafers, grabbed her purse, and left the small house.
Robby had the car, so she’d have to walk to Hubert Hall. She might be too early, but she’d be there when the Dean of Women arrived.
Julie explained to the Dean of Women why her daddy went to the hospital.
“Dean Fletcher, I need to get to Charleston today to see about my daddy. You know my mother is in the rest home, and I’m the only family he has to look after him. I don’t know how long I’ll need to be gone. What do I do about my classes?”
“I’ll notify your professors that you’ll have excused absences until you return. Will you drive?”
“Yes. But Robby drives the car to work on the university farm each morning. He should be back soon to make it to his first class. I’ll go back to the house and wait for him, and then leave from there.”
“Won’t Robby go with you?”
“I’ll encourage him to stay here so he won’t miss work and any classes. Robby doesn’t need to get behind in his courses. It would be helpful if you could arrange for him to eat in the dining hall while I’m gone.”
The Dean took a pad of paper from her top desk drawer, wrote on it, and handed the note to Julie. “Give this to Robby and he’ll be permitted to eat at the dining hall. We’ll take care of the cost later.”
Julie rose from her chair across from the dean’s desk. “Dean Fletcher, thank you. Ever since that first sign-in day at the girls’ dormitory my freshman year, you’ve been so willing to help me when I’ve had a problem.”
“Julie, you’re very welcome. You go on to Charleston and take care of your daddy. He’s a fine gentleman. I’ve enjoyed knowing you and your daddy and Robby the last three and a half years. I hope Mr. Capshaw’s health will improve soon. Go now, drive carefully.”
Robby lifted Julie’s luggage and placed it in the trunk of the car. He closed the trunk lid and turned to her. “Julie, I’ll miss you. We’ve not been apart a night since we got married our freshman year.”
“I know. I’ll miss you too. You won’t be beside me when I wake up in the morning.”
“Hope your daddy is better by the time you get to Charleston.”
Her eyes teared up, and she leaned against Robby. He pulled her close. “You sure you don’t want me to go with you?”
“It’s best if you stay here. I don’t want you to get behind in your class work. As you said, maybe Daddy will be better, and I will return in a day or two.”
“Okay. Thanks for the meal ticket from Dean Fletcher.”
Julie didn’t try to hold her tears back any longer. She cried big gulps, and Robby tried to dry her cheeks. “Robby, what will I do if something awful happens to Daddy? Besides you, he’s all I’ve got. Mother doesn’t know what day it is. She doesn’t even know me. Every time I see her she seems to be worse than before.”
“Shhh, your daddy’s going to be okay. You do whatever you need to do. Stay as long as you want to. Thanks for thinking about me and my classes along with worrying about your daddy. I love you, Julie. Drive careful. I had the car filled with gas while you finished packing. Thank goodness, the weather’s clear.”
“Okay.” She wiped the last tears from her cheeks. “I’ll call you from Charleston when I know more. It’ll probably take me nearly six hours to get there.” Her hands looped around Robby’s neck, and she kissed his lips. That familiar tingle filled her body—after more than three years, Robby’s kisses remained as electrifying as when they dated in high school.
Julie drove away from their rental house and glanced at Robby in the rearview mirror. He stood where she left him until she rounded the curve to leave the campus and could see him no longer. What would she find in Charleston? Her world had changed in a minute. Changed with one harsh telephone ring.
© 2015 Jo Huddleston
All Rights Reserved