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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Music (03/08/07)

TITLE: Little Boy Blue
By Marilee Alvey


“May I help you, little lady?” James said as he spread out the blanket, then extended his hand to his wife.

“James, if somebody hears you, you’ll be in rehab for drug use.”

“Bonnie, you’re still the prettiest girl in New Orleans and you know it. Now, take my hand and sit down, woman!”

“James, if I get down I may not be able to get up.”

“Trust me.”

“Well, you’ll certainly find out I’m not so little anymore!”

“I should hope you’re not. Five months along, you’d better be showing.”

“Isn’t the park beautiful, James? It’s hard to believe that we’re having a picnic in the same place the Vietnam protests were held, isn’t it? It’s so peaceful now.”

“Yeah, if you’d asked me in ‘70, I thought that being in the New Orleans Jazz Band was the top, but here I am, four years later, still working construction during the day, then playing half the night, downtown. This ain’t livin’.”

“Why do you work yourself so hard?”

“It’s only until I break through, Bonnie. Guess I shouldn’t complain. Playin’ jazz trumpet is something I love to do.”

“James, I…”


“Oh, God… no!”

Bonnie’s face blanched white.

He didn’t need to ask any more questions. There, on the blanket, was his answer: an ever widening circle of warm fluid. Quickly pulling her up to her feet, he threw everything back in the picnic basket and rushed her over to their car.

“James, it’s way too soon…”

“Here, get in the back and put your legs up on the seat. God has a reason for our Peanut and He’s gonna save him. Stay calm and breathe deeply. We’ll be there in a minute, Bonnie.”

James drove as if the world was about to end because his was. Bonnie’s moaning commanded his gas pedal until they arrived at the hospital.

As he helped her out of the car, they looked into each other’s face momentarily. The fear and hopelessness that was reflected in their eyes would have looked familiar on board the Titanic.

It didn’t take long to deliver him. There was no stopping labor: the one pound infant simply slid out. So tiny, so precious, so blue. No time to touch him, to rejoice or celebrate a new life entering this world. The room itself held its breath. As quick as the brush of a butterfly’s wings, their tiny Peanut was caught up by the doctor and rushed to one corner of the room. It was surreal: three doctors and assorted nurses huddled over the tiny spirit. James leaned over and rested his head against Bonnie’s.

He forced “I love you” past his parched lips as fear danced with dread.

“I’m sorry. We did all we could do. He was just too early,” the doctor said, placing this wisp of promise, now extinguished, into James’ arms. He was as light as a loaf of bread.

As he looked at his tiny son, he tenderly touched his face. His cheek was so soft that James couldn’t even tell when his finger made contact. He lightly stroked his tiny curled fingers, imagining them curled over the valves of a trumpet. A gutteral sob soared up to the door of God’s mighty throne room.

“God, why? Why?”

As he stood over the tiny grave, James read the inscription: “Little Boy Blue, come blow your horn, the sheep’s in the meadow, the cow’s in the corn. But where is the little boy who looks after the sheep? He’s under the haystack, fast asleep.”

“James, wake up! Wake up! You must be having a bad dream.”

James found himself sitting up in bed, totally saturated in cold sweat. Bonnie was raised up on one elbow beside him in bed, looking puzzled, the sheets accenting the large mound that was now her stomach.

“Peanut… My Peanut…” he cooed, rubbing her round belly softly.

“Who’s Peanut?” she asked, quizzically.

Oh, by the way, did I ever tell you how beautiful you look pregnant, Bonnie?”

Two weeks later, eight pound nine ounce Andrew “Blue” Cook entered the world with a cry that, to his father, sounded as triumphant as Gabriel’s horn.

James continued playing the jazz clubs but was never able to quit his day job. In 1998, the breakout CD “Little Boy Blew” topped the jazz charts, winning a Grammy and the title of “Best New Artist” for musician Andrew “Blue” Cook.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Mo 03/15/07
I was so relieved at the twist in this.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/15/07
What a wonderful story! I went from tears to laughter in a hurry!
Donna Howard03/17/07
Fantastic story. I, too, was relieved that it was only a dream. Terrific story. Terrific writing.
Sharlyn Guthrie03/17/07
I especially like how you used Little Boy Blue , and how the meaning of the rhyme fit the story. Great job.
Leigh MacKelvey03/18/07
The figurative language was superb! "fear danced with dread", "wisp of a butterfly's wings" and so many more metaphors and personification. They didn't seem forced to my ear and the story flowed on. This was especially tender to me.
As usual, a master's work!
Donna Powers 03/18/07
This is excellent! I loved the ending and the realistic depiction of the dad in this story. Very well written
Jacquelyn Horne03/19/07
Interesting. How often we would all love for bad things in life to be a horrible dream. I'm glad it worked out here. Such a sad beginning, but the words pictured it perfectly. I could feel the grief.
Cynthia Chandler03/19/07
This story brought tears to my eyes. How amazing it is to love children we haven't even seen! I'm happy for the ending - but even more, I was pleased to see the love in a father for his unborn son.
Loren T. Lowery03/20/07
In a very real, but emotional sense, men have babies, too. Enjoyed the meaningful tie-back to the child's name and esp. liked the line "Bonnie's moaning commanded the gas pedal"

Myrna Noyes03/22/07
Suspenseful, excellently told story! I love the ending! :)
william price03/26/07
Great ending, super reader involvement. Definite Level Four material. Keep up the good work. God bless.