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Orphan (standard:romance, 2923 words)
Author: Maureen StirsmanAdded: Oct 18 2002Views/Reads: 5670/2613Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
It was a nice little family, Lawrence, Therese and the baby, Sophie. It was one of those love stories that only take place in books, almost like a fairy tale. It was just that way. They were the picture of a happy family, and they were as happy as the


It was a nice little family, Lawrence, Therese and the baby, Sophie.  It
was one of those love stories that only take place in books, almost 
like a fairy tale.  It was just that way.  Lawrence and Therese took 
the baby for walks in the park, swinging her between them.  Her 
laughter decorated the maple trees like Christmas ornaments. They were 
the picture of a happy family, and they were as happy as they looked.  
They were—until that cloudy, rainy, gray day that Lawrence stood in the 
examining room while the doctor listened to the cough. 

After that, in spite of the horrid tasting medicine the condition did
not improve and gradually Lawrence stopped walking in the park.  When 
his body racked with the cough he tried to hide the bright red stains 
in a white handkerchief. His blue eyes, once so alive, had sunk in his 
pale face.  The doctor wanted to admit him to the sanitarium but 
Therese was frightened and begged him not to leave her.  “I will take 
care of you.  I will change your bedclothes.  I will make your favorite 
meals.  Don't leave me, Lawrence.  Please don't leave me.  I couldn't 
bear it.” 

On those first long sunny days in June, Lawrence sat in the lawn chair
and the doctor made house calls.  The hot days of August found him 
sitting in the shadow of a large maple, and in October at the kitchen 
table watching the leaves fall.  By January he couldn't sit up.  His 
cough shook the bed. Therese read to him from the lovely book of poems 
they bought in the quaint little bookstore on their honeymoon only 
three years before. 

He coughed and tried to hide the white handkerchief.  Therese tended his
needs and those of the baby, Sophie, and only slept in fits when her 
head finally touched the down pillow.  Yet she said, “Don't leave me, 
Lawrence, please don't leave me. I couldn't bear it.” 

Lawrence only looked at Sophie from the doorway of the sick room. 
Therese held her and said, “Make patty cake for Daddy, Honey.  Make 
patty cake.”  That was January. 

They stood at the cold grave on a windblown Tuesday in February with the
snow swirling around their woolen hats and coat collars. ... 

Therese did the best she could raising the toddler, trying to make up
for the loss of her father. Sophie was an active child and got into the 
things all two-year-olds do, and Therese watched her maybe too closely 
and held her maybe too tightly.  Therese worked evenings in a bakery 
bringing home soft white bread and sugar-decorated ginger cookies as 
treats for the little girl.  The work schedule was difficult but the 
neighbors were good with Sophie. When Therese was not working, she 
spent every minute with the child. 

Therese taught the little girl to look at the picture of Lawrence and
say, “Daddy.”  When she was four years old she began to ask questions.  
Therese explained the best she could and told her, “Never leave me, 
Sophie. I love you too much. It would break my heart.” Sophie never 

The hard work and long days took their toll on the young mother, and
then with an unbelievably cruel turn of fate Therese contracted 
pneumonia.  She took the medicine faithfully but it was ineffective.  
Little Sophie stood in the doorway of the bedroom and watched the 
neighbors and doctor minister to her mother.  “Look, Mommy, patty 
cake,” she said.  It was then that Therese wrote the letter to her 
cousin Maude.  They had never been close, she and Maude, in any sense 
of the word.  Maude lived in Boston, a hundred miles away.  She was her 
Aunt Jessie's child and Therese had not seen her in years but she was 
the only family she had left, and Therese reluctantly took up pen and 
paper and beseeched her to care for Sophie. 


Maude Saint John was dressed all in black; long dress, gloves and large
hat, but in spite of the mourning clothes, her smile was sweet and her 
soft bosom comforting.  She held Sophie's hand as they stepped up into 
the car of the train.  The little four-year-old tried to pull away but 
the matronly cousin gently took her to her seat.  Sophie pressed her 

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