The Story Behind the "Christina's World" painting

The painter said she was paralized, what if other poepl think differntly?



Christina, that was her name, I thought as I looked at her. We were setting at the outdoor café, enjoying some lemonade, or I was at least. When Christina walked over and patted Puck on the shoulder. She had only one sock on and one of her shoes was unbuckled. Her black was every were.     

            “Excuse me,” she said, “do you two know were a fellow named Arcus might be.” She smiled. We had seen Christina before, but she was always hiding in the fields out west. Right now she was wearing her everyday pink lavender dress. Her hair matted and black, her eyes gave her an impression I couldn’t explain. She looked very depressed; well I guess you could say we all were depressed since it was the, Great Depression.

            “Arcus, you mean Arcus Butterfields?” Puck responded, “He lives out in the southern fields, quite aways off, right by our home, isn’t it Rose?” I looked up at my husband.

            “What?” I said obliviously, “Oh, why yes he does, he’s moving out though, you now, since the dust bull and everything.” I smiled at Christina, she didn’t smile back instead she gave me a look, the look was heart piercing, as if I had stolen something.

            “Thank you for your help.” Said Christina as she walked away, I sighed.

            “Now she’s not that odd is she?” I asked Puck not mentioning the look I had just received, since after all; there have been lots of rumors going off about her. That she had gypsy ways and traveled from town to town, even now and then, steeling children. I didn’t believe this though.  

            “Well I don’t know Rose. I don’t know.” My husband drifted off, and looked up at the sky.


            “Liars, Arcus would never move because of the dust bull, she was just trying to get rid of me.” I thought to myself as I said thank you to the nice couple, at the café. That Rose woman, she bugged me. She had smooth tan skin and honey blonde hair. I loved her eyes they were bright hazel and made you jump when you looked at them. Puck wasn’t so handsome, he had brown hair and a farmer’s tan, and his eyes were grey. Puck seemed very strong, unlike the so called Rose who seemed, weak and frail; at least I could lift a hay stack. She looked as if someone could snap her in half. I walked to a big corn field and sat on a branch lying by the old dirt road. The sky was dark, and wind was slowly moving the crops, there was a lot of dirt in the air as usual. Not to mention small dust devils moving through the open fields to the north.

 I thought back to Arcus, we were husband and wife at one time; he said I was the crazy one and threatened to take me to an insane asylum just because I killed our baby in my sleep. No one had known we were married. A matter of fact, everyone thought I was a gypsy who moved from town to town. I could see that Rose woman thinking that, I could just see it.

            I looked up at the sky it looked like it was going to rain, it always looked that way. I guess I should explain why I asked were Arcus lived.  I asked simply because I wanted to meet Puck. Yes, he defiantly wasn’t hansom with those gray eyes, but when I watched from the corn fields as he worked, I felt a feeling. This feeling felt like the same feeling a felt when I saw Arcus at first sight. I think the feeling love. It isn’t fair that Rose woman got him first.

            Standing up the wind got wilder, my black hair coming out of its untidy bun. I felt courage throughout my body. I was going to take Rose away from him, and make him mine. I laughed on top of my lungs, I laughed and evil laugh, for all to hear.


            “Ah!” I woke up from my bed, Puck lying near me; I heard an evil laugh, the same one everyone had heard earlier that day. Puck started to awaken; it was the middle of the night.

            “What you yelling about,” he rubbed his eyes.

            “You know that odd laugh everyone said they heard earlier today, in town. Well I just thought I heard it again, except just outside in our corn fields.”

            “Pasha! You were probably just a dreaming.” Puck laid down again, living me to think in the dark. I thought I heard it again, this made me get up. I got up from bed and went to go check on my children. I had two girls and one boy, Clara, Sara, and Bobby. Bobby was the youngest. Clara and Sara were sleeping fine, when I reached Bobby’s room the window was opened and his curtains were flying everywhere. I looked at his bed he was not there. There was a note on a piece of old tire. The letters were etched in. I calmly walked over and read it.

            Dear whom this my concern,

 I have taken your child and will not return him, unless Rose woman, comes to me single handed. NO weapons!

With Passion,



I am hiding in a shed at Arcuses place. You have to come tonight!


            I screamed I couldn’t believe it. There were no name just initials. Puck did not come in. Quickly I wrote him a note saying that I would be back soon and left through our kitchen door. I ran towards Arcuses farm, I hide a small knife in my pocket, just in case. I was steel wearing my nightgown and sleepers. The air was cold and the road was very damp, there was a full moon tonight.  I ran until I saw a shed far into the darkness of the corn fields, looking to my right I saw Arcuses place. I ran towards the shed, and opened the door wide open. There I saw her she, she an evil smile on her face, Bobby was nibbling some bread in a corner, and his waste was tied to a pole. He tried to grab me but he didn’t realize he was tied and started crying. My poor babe I thought, I was horrified.  

            “Give me back my son!” I exclaimed running towards Christina. “You have no attention in doing this!” I slapped her.  She started to turn angry and shouted at me in a language I didn’t understand. It sounded like gibberish mostly. People in town were right, she was crazy. When she knew I didn’t understand she sat down and became calm.

  “I want your husband, and if I do not get him you will not live to see two days.” She scrubbed her nails with an old cloth. Bobby was still screaming, I looked through a small window, I could see the moon picking out of some clouds. A strong wind made the door open. I didn’t know what to say.

            “You are acting like a child, I will not take it. I simply don’t understand you. Today you came to us as a friend, I thought you were odd yes but still acknowledged you. What do you do? You go crazy, as crazy as people say you are.” She looked at me then at my squealing son then looked at my eyes. “You are crazy, I barely know you, and you barely know my husband. You want him to marry you?  Even though he is already married to me! You expect me to hand him over to, just because you think you love him? You are a terrible woman!” She looked astonished, her black eyes were wide, and then said,  

            “Maybe I didn’t know you. You seemed weak in every way, but not your words, I see. I love your husband and want him now, and how dare you call me crazy. Just because I’m poor and don’t have food, money, and proper clothing, and I talk to crickets as human beings all the time,” she paused then looked away, “ never mind!” How absurd! I thought, then out of words again.

            “We all are poor and…” she interrupts me, as a breeze comes in through the shed the night was cool, winter was coming.

“We all are poor yes, but I am jealous of you, you don’t have to worry about anything, I’m surprised you’re not running towards you baby right now to comfort him. Most women would.” She turned towards my son; I stood in front of her, I wouldn’t let her touch my son again.

            “Why do you think you love my husband?” I looked at her. My slippers were getting extremely dirty from the hay and dirt on the floor.

            “Because I have been watching him work for four years now ever since the depression started and have realized that I think I love him!” she folded her arms, “Also he said hello to me one time, that shows that he loves me and wants to marry me. He came to me in a dream one time too, saying he wanted to take me to Brazil, and we would live on a banana farm, we would have five pet monkeys, each a different type. This is my dream, like a miracle! I know it’s a miracle, then he said we would have ten boys and ten girls all named Missy and Par!”

            “You are as crazy as they say!” I said in a high voice again, “I shun you; you are sinning, and acting in a ludicrous fashion! Whatever mad you so crazy! To think you want to go to some distant land and live on a banana farm with my husband! What could ever make you possibly think that anyone could love you! You are a shameful, selfish girl. If you were my daughter I would have spanked a hundred times a day! Whoever put the idea in your head that you could ever take someone’s child and threaten them until they give there husband as well!” I was yelling by now, she started to cry “That’s right! You cry! You cry for all your sins!”  With that I untied my son and lifted him up onto my hip, he stopped crying. “Now, good night.” With that I left, Bobby feel asleep on my shoulder as I walked steadily walked home, I could see some sunrise picking out of the corn fields. What a crazy woman, and that’s all I had to say.


Another two years went pass, Christina despaired, and no one saw her or even heard of her, everyone had theories, but truthfully I didn’t want to think of her. Until on one sunny day in the middle of May she came to my house. I heard I knock at the door. Lifting my new daughter from her crib I carried her to the front door. There was Christina. She looked much healthier, her hair was brushed into a bun and she had gained another sock. Both of her shoes were buckled, she was even wearing a little black belt around her waist. She was still wearing the pink dress, this time much cleaner. She looked civilized; she was wearing a fashionable gray hat with pink lining on it. I opened the door and greeted her as nicely as I could.


There she was, the Rose woman, she was holding a jumpy little baby and was wearing a green dress it wasn’t very fashionable, you could tell they had gotten much poorer than four years before. The sun shined on her shoes as she opened the door. A sweet breeze whistled through the corn crops, the dirt wasn’t very heavy in the air.  I ran up and embraced her.

            “Hello!” I shouted. “You remember me don’t you?”I winked at her.

            “Sadly yes I do.” She lifted her baby onto her other hip, “what would you like?” she asked me.

            “Well I would like to thank you.”

            “Thank me for what?”

            “Well you inspired me to go to insane asylum!” I giggled; she looked at me, surprised. “Yes, that is odd but you see you convinced me to do so! I’m so proud! Because now I feel as if I could go any were and be normal!” I giggled again. Rose nodded her head. “Who’s this little young thing?” I pinched the baby on the check.

“This is Cassandra. My daughter, come on in.”  Rose led me into the kitchen and introduced me to everyone. She had a nice kitchen. It had white and yellow wall paper with little brown cupboards. There was homemade jam on the counters. I saw bobby playing in a corner, he had grown.

            “Why! What I cute little household you have.” I said pretending to be astonished. She thanked me and gave me a plate with bread and cheese on it. Then we started to have a conversation. We talked about life, music, art, books, children, education, farming, and how to make cake. We started to get along. After a few days’s she even said I could stay at her home. This was fine just fine; during the summer the family would have picnics, and we even went to a free horse racing. In fall I helped Rose make jams and other foods for winter and I helped the children with school work, even though I didn’t really know how to read or spell very well. In the winter we mostly stayed inside will Puck tried to find a job that would get him more money. Puck would stay up late trying, and trying to find a real job until he found one. He was going to go work at a factory in Chicago that gives you ten cents an hour, which was a lot more then he was getting now. So when late January came along, we said good bye to Puck. I lived here for two whole years after Puck left. In the second year the Dust Bull was getting quite worse and we couldn’t go outside.  Puck couldn’t come home in the second year because it was so bad, but he still wrote to us and sent us money.    


            “Christina!” I called. She came running down the stairs, I had made her a new dress, and this dress looked exactly like her old one. Since she couldn’t decide on any other type, but she did except a new pair of socks. I felt rather faint, and had chills running down my body, little Cassandra started to crawl down the all towards me. Christina ran towards me.

            “Why, Rose you look quite pale! Are you ill?” she asked looking at me. She was wearing my old green dress and an apron.

            “I, I don’t know.” I stumbled then collapsed.

            “Oh, my goodness, Miss Rose?” She shook me, I mumbled something, and couldn’t remember what happened from there.


            What to do? Sara and Clara helped me carry Rose to her bed. We put a wet cloth on her forehead. She had a ravishing fever of 104 degrees, this was bad. I didn’t know what to do.

            “Are there any doctors?” I asked Clara.

            “Why yes, indeed, there’s one in town but hardly anyone lives there. And we can’t walk, since the air is so dirty!” Clara had her mother in her that was foreshore; she had very long braided brown hair and hazel eyes. Her face was round with worry. I thought about anyone close by who could help; no one.

            “Well, I guess we’ll just have to risk going outside.” Clara whimpered but then tied a scarf around her mouth and put her coat on. “There we go!” I said buttoning up her coat, “you’ll have to go without me so I can be with your mother, brother, and sisters. Okay? Now you hurry along.” I helped her outside as a gust of dirt blew inside. I watched her then ran back to Rose. Before I knew it the doctor and Clara were back. Sara helped me carry Rose to the couch down stairs, and start a fire. The doctor did little procedures on Rose as we waited in the dining room. We waited for a while, until finally the doctor came out.

            “Looks like Miss Rose, has an illness I’m not sure what it is, it might be salmonella which is a bug that is in food or water. Her symptoms are similar to it. I don’t think she has much longer to live, she’s got it bad. You see we don’t know how to fix it, she is also very weak. So keep her warm and give her a dose of this,” he handed me a little bottle “each day, it will help her pain go away, and make her more relaxed.” He smiled and patted me on the shoulder then left, with not a word. The days went on. Sara and Bobby both got Salmonella. I didn’t know what to do. Clara went around and asked neighbors for clean water and food. We had to toss everything that was ours. The doctor came in twice a day to check on Rose and the others.

            Rose was getting a little better and was able to talk within four weeks, but still couldn’t get up. Clara got flu but got back to health. Bobby died; Sara was getting weaker every day. I could tell that Rose was too weak to really notice. I was much stressed, and didn’t know what to do with Puck gone. Oh no, poor Puck! What would I tell him when he got back? The Bust Bull was getting better, as everyone else was getting worse. The doctor fell ill himself after a while. Clara, little Cassandra, and I were the only ones to survive.

            At the end of March Sara died. I was very sad and so were the others when Sara died. She had sandy hair and beautiful grey eyes; she was very strong like Puck .Puck would come home within two weeks. The dust Bull cleared up a little so now and then I carried Rose out for a few minutes, but not too long, otherwise she would faint from the dusty air. Rose had lasted the longest out of all of them. I guess she was strong when it came to illnesses; it was odd though everyone else died just weeks afterwards, and she hadn’t.

            “Christina!” she whispered, “Come!” I came and sat by her she looked at me and tried to smile, “If I die…”

            “Which you’re not!” I assured. She tried to give me a very sophisticated look, then took a deep breath, or tried.

            “Christina, before I leave, I want to tell that you have been my best friend I have had for a very long time. If Puck gets mad at you don’t bother. I would never ever want you to feel as if you’ve done a bad job. When we first met you were a crazy self centered woman, now you know how to love and care.” I looked away embarrassed, she grabbed my hand, and tried to breathe. She was very cold and pale, she was dying. I pressed the wet towel on her head, there was a large bump on her chest, I had never noticed it before, and it was showing through her night shift. Instantly I knew grandmother had gotten the same thing; it was breast cancer why hadn’t the doctor noticed it. Maybe it was because she was always covering herself when he came so he could only see her face and neck.  

 “Christina I loved you, you were like another child,” she grasped my hand, “stay with me!”

“I love you to dear.” I rubbed her check. Smiling she fell asleep.  

            Finally, Puck came a day later the doctor came in and looked at her lump (which I told him about). The doctor said since she hadn’t told him about it was really bad now and they would have to cut it off. If it grew back she would die, or die anyway. Puck came on the exact same day, I few minutes after the doctor arrived, Puck and I were left alone he didn’t know Rose was in the other room.  

            “Where’s Rose?” he asked “Where’s Rose and the children?” he sounded worried.

            “Puck, I have news! I bug called salmonella got into our food, they all have been sick! Rose is in the other room she may have breast cancer! Please, I don’t know what to do, I’ve done my best!” I started to cry, I hope he wouldn’t get mad. He looked at my tearful eyes, suddenly he looked worried, really worried.

            “Did any of them die?”

            “Yes sir, Bobby and Sara.” When I heard this he fell to his knees and looked at the floor. “I’m sorry sir, I didn’t know what to do, the doctor couldn’t do anything!” I cried harder, I saw tears go down his face.

            “Where’s Rose?” he grumbled.

            “Lying down in the family room, near the fire.” There was a silence.

            “Then why aren’t you with her?” he stood up, he was angry. “I knew we shouldn’t have let you in this household! You’ve killed almost my whole family!” he looked as if he was going to strike me “I worked so hard and come home to find and crazy woman trying to heal my family, but instead is killing them! You have probably been doing the wrong things! I’m banishing you from this house!” I was shocked, when I didn’t leave him, he hit me, and I feel to the floor, got up and left in tears. I heard him screaming and I heard little Cassandra crying. Behind me I could see the doctor watching me, shocked.   

            I ripped some of my dress and wrapped it around my mouth so I didn’t have to breathe in the dirt. I ran as far away as I could, until I reached and old barn house that had been abandoned. I snaked inside, no one was here, and it was almost empty besides an old couch. I went to the couch and sat on it. The house was faded and old. The wall paper was falling off and some floor boards were missing. Lying down on the couch I fell asleep.  

            I woke up early the next morning; I could hear some crickets outside. I got up and walked around the house. I was very old and dusty. I a lot of rooms were half furnished.  There was a bathroom with only a mirror and toilet in it. There even a little broken radio to the side. I looked in the mirror, to find bright blue eyes and a tear stained face. I found an old brush and brushed my hair. I tied it into a neat bun. Then I looked around some more and found a thick scarf and a small jacket I hadn’t realized that the air was very cool outside, but I only took the scarf. Tying the scarf I headed towards town. The sky was again over cast and breezes were sweeping through Missouri. I could smell sweet hay and the sun was peeking out from the dust clouds. I started to think about what had happened earlier. I had never seen Puck get angry or strike Rose. Poor Rose I would miss her, she had been my only friend, and I knew it wasn’t long. I went past their house and met the doctor on the way; he too had a scarf around his mouth.

            “Are you going to go check on Rose?” I asked my voice muffled.

            “Yes I am. I did later yesterday afternoon, after you left, I think she won’t be able to live another day. I don’t think she has Salmonella; it would’ve killed her by now. Good day.” He tipped his hat and walked up to their house. Looking at it made me want to cry. How could Puck think it was my fault? I didn’t understand. I watched the doctor go in; suddenly he turned around and ran past me I saw blood on his shoes that was all.

A major gust of dirt surrounded me biting at my skin, and I couldn’t see past my knees. My scarf came undone and was carried away. I held my breath; I usually had to do this so I wouldn’t choke down too much dirt. But the wind kept blowing; I couldn’t see anything, not even my dress. My head started to hurt, the wind tore at my face, I couldn’t breathe, and I fainted. I woke up once, for some reason I started crawling, the dirt storm was still surrounding me, it had lightened but I still couldn’t breathe. Crawling through the dead corn fields I reached the old barn, my lungs and arms aching from the climb up the hill. I took a deep breath; dirt was sucked into my lungs. I fainted again, my head falling on a rock; slowly I started to roll down the hill.

            I woke up, the storm had ceased, some of my dirty black hair fell in my face, I started coughing, I couldn’t breathe right, water, and I needed water. I looked up to find myself in Roses dead corn field, the barn half a mile off from me. The house was dark, there was no light in it, the sky cloudy there was a little sun in the distance. The dead grasses swayed dirt covering most of the grass in the distance. I started to wheeze, trying to breathe the best I could. I saw to men come out of the house carrying two, bodies. The men laid them on the porch, and walked back inside the house. Puck’s was bloody. I felt faint even thinking about it. I took another deep breathe, forgetting the dusty hair. I swallowed what felt like gallons of dirt, I couldn’t breathe. How could dirt suffocate you? Looking up at the barn I whispered,

            “Rose,” trying to take my last breathe, I leaned on one arm my other tossed in front of me, my body felt weak. My hair moving gently in my face from the wind I finished my last breathes saying my last words “I’m coming Rose………”          


The End

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