An Excerpt from A Place to Call Home
Jackie French Koller
"I'm sorry, Casey," I say, "but I'm going to have to put you down for a minute." I walk over and sit him in his playpen. He gives me a startled look, as if he has been betrayed, then his arms flail out and he begins to kick and squall, falling backward into his blankets. His desperation unnerves me, and I hurry back to the sink, sweat breaking out on my upper lip as I rush to scrub out and fill the bottle. I dash back, scoop Casey up again, and shove the bottle into his mouth. The screaming ceases instantly, and with a sigh of relief I carry him into the living room and sink down on the sofa.
He sucks greedily, gulping and gulping, laboring to breathe through his runny nose. He pauses now and then, just long enough to suck in a big breath of air before hungrily attacking the nipple again. A pile of unfolded laundry sits on the other end of the sofa, and I lean over and pull out a washcloth. I wipe Casey's nose, then dab at a little tear that has pooled in the small depression between his eye and the bridge of his nose. He is shuddering less now, and the red flush is fading from his skin, all except for a welt across his forehead. I wince, remembering how Mama lost her temper this morning and hit him.
"Poor little Casey," I whisper, caressing his tiny white fingers. "It's been a rough seven months, hasn't it?"
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