My Name Is River

My Name Is River by Wendy Dunham

Book: My Name Is River by Wendy Dunham Read Free Book Online
Authors: Wendy Dunham
the baby, but Uncle Jay never heard her. When she came back, their baby was gone.”
    Gram closes her eyes. “That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.” She gets real quiet and lets out a sigh. “Did they ever find that baby?”
    Billy shakes his head. “The police searched for years but didn’t have any luck. I was so young at the time, and no one ever talks about it, so I don’t know very much about it. Anyway, after that Uncle Jay’s wife left him. But even after all those years, Uncle Jay still carries a picture of them in his wallet.”
    Gram gets a puzzled look on her face and says to Billy, “I’d like to see that picture sometime.” Then she shakes her head a few times and looks out the kitchen window toward our mailbox. “Well, I’m gonna see if the postmaster brought me anything exciting too. You never know what the day’s gonna bring.” She heads out, letting the screen door slam behind her.
    I sort through the hummingbird pictures, looking for my favorite. “You know, Billy,” I say, “today could be my lucky day. There just might be a letter from my parents waiting in the mailbox.” I look out the window and see Gram hopping down the driveway on one foot—she might as well be on a pogo stick. I try distracting Billy so he doesn’t look out the window.
    We sort a few more pictures, when I look out the window again. This time Gram isn’t hopping. She’s lying at the edge of the road, right beside our mailbox. At first I wait to see if she’s doing some crazy exercise, but when she doesn’t move, I yell for her and run outside. Billy hurries behind me.
    I lift Gram’s head, but her eyes stay closed. Billy runs back toward the house, yelling over his shoulder, “I’ll call an ambulance!”
    â€œOur phone’s been shut off!” I yell back. “Just get Tilly’s keys.” Billy freezes, so I yell again, “Get the keys!”
    I check Gram’s pulse, remembering what Billy said about a hummingbird’s heart beating six hundred times a minute and a human’s beating seventy-two times. I haven’t counted one on Gram.
    I grab the keys from Billy and slip behind Tilly’s steering wheel, trying to remember everything I’ve watched Gram do. I put the key in, turn it, and push on the gas. Tilly starts on the first try. I shift into reverse, push on the gas, and the truck jerks backward toward the mailbox. I shift into park, get out, and open Tilly’s tailgate. I yell for Billy to help. Somehow we manage to get Gram in. I shove Billy in the back too and tell him to stay with her. I slam Tilly’s tailgate shut and climb back in the driver’s seat.
    Billy’s voice is trembling. “What are you going to do?”
    â€œI’m driving to your house. We need a grown-up to get Gram to the hospital.”
    â€œThat won’t work,” he says. “My dad’s at church, and my mom can’t leave the kids.”
    I tell myself I can do this, shift into drive, point Tilly in the direction of the church, and press on the gas. As I look in the rearview mirror, I meet Billy’s eyes. I can tell he’s crying. I yell through the glass, “Have you ever done CPR?”
    â€œI’ve only seen it on TV.”
    â€œThat’s all right,” I tell him. “Do the same thing. Push down in the middle of Gram’s chest a bunch of times. Then tip her head back and plug her nose so you can blow air into her lungs. You have to blow twice.” I look in the mirror again and see him trying, but it doesn’t look like it’s going well.
    â€œI’m sorry!” Billy yells. “I don’t think I’m doing good enough.”
    I forgot about his arm. I pull Tilly over to the side of the road and tell Billy to switch with me.
    His voice is panicky. “I’ve never driven before.”
    â€œWe don’t

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