A piece of flash fiction I wrote a while ago, experimenting with 500 word length – it seems appropriate for recent weather conditions!
Somewhere, not too distant, a door bangs. Stable, barn or shed, the dull and comfortable thud of wood against wood.
Rose moves to the window, stares into the darkness, presses her face to the cold pane to see shapes. Objects. A figure. But the night is too dense, moonless, stars entirely obscured by blankets of clotted cloud. Besides, there are no cars. No sign of human life out there where, on such a night, even the moles and badgers and hares have the sense to keep to their burrows, their lairs.
She turns back to the womb-like warmth of the room, the night-light dim, shedding pale subdued shadows across the space that harbours the two of them. She feels heavy, weighted in a way that consoles. The ability of her body to nurture and sustain new life astounds her. All these years it has concealed this extraordinary skill, this marvel, a knock-out party trick, conjuring flesh from flesh. She is exulted by her god-like powers of creation. Let There Be Life!
Yet exhausted too.
Consecutive hours of sleep now elude her. In her long white nightgown, foolishly virginal, she clambers across the untidy bed, props pillows, closes her eyes.
Then thinks she hears an engine and is alert again, ridiculously hopeful.
But it is only the wind, chastising her, teasing such fancies, punishing branches, bushes, roof slates so that by morning she expects to see a shocked landscape wearily inspecting for damage.
And now the noise is here beside her. Small muted suggestions of sound that gradually swell to more agitated protest. Eagerly, she turns towards the mound of blanket that is now moving, fists and feet, small nuggets of pink quartz, struggling for freedom. Cries pierce the silence and she picks up her cargo, nestles his miniscule frame against hers, feels his soft head bury into the shelf of her shoulder, custom made, it seems, for such purpose.
Now there is stillness again, only the softest snuffles as the baby feeds, sucking easily and fully, a natural, an expert in only three days. She fears she might be drowning in love. Is it possible? An excess of the stuff filtering through her veins, her bones, so that she is insulated, cocooned, needing no other comfort.
Or so she tells herself.
The wind is beginning to subside. Like the high point of a fever, it has reached its nadir and is now retreating, cowed, no longer a constant; there are moments of respite, snatched interludes of relative calm.
So this time Rose knows she is not mistaken.
For there is no wind blowing at the moment the car pulls up, the engine cuts. The sound of his tread on the path is clear. She holds the baby so close, their hearts beat in unison.
For his arrival, she knows, is acceptance.
Out of the storm of their lives, he is choosing to embrace this unexpected, utterly astonishing gift of their child.
She opens the door.
Welcomes him in.