She looked out the window as the pain slipped into a distant place within her. She tried to focus on the clouds gathering. It had been months since rain. Leaves, prematurely brown, drifted slowly past the window. The clock marked the beginning of a new day.
He held her hand and wiped her brow. Grateful for the moment of stillness, he noted the time. “How much longer?” he wondered, and took a deep breath.
She squeezed his hand. “I,” she started, and then was engulfed with the pain. It grabbed her and held on. She tried to breathe and could not.
“Push!” he cried. “Push!”
She closed her eyes and with an iron will pushed with all her might. She felt herself opening. Felt the head squeezing out. Felt the sudden joy.
It took a moment before she realized that he was no longer holding her hand, that the room was silent. Cold sweat ran into the corners of her mouth. The taste of bile and salt nearly gagged her.
Then she heard the cry, and her heart responded to the sound. Beating, beating with each and every whimper.
Her eyes cleared, and she saw him. The shoulders slumped. He was standing by the window, looking out at the clouds. Turned away from her. Turned away from the baby.
She started to call to him, to beg him to tell her the baby was okay. She opened her mouth and could not bring herself to ask.
The cries were softer now. She waited. A slow and steady rain began to beat a melancholy tune against the window.
Someone handed her the baby. She marveled at him, so perfect, so beautiful. She caressed the tiny fingers, even as tears washed across them. She had been so sure, so very, very sure, but the baby’s distinctive features told the truth.
Kathleen Mack has returned to writing after an absence of 40 years. A reprint of an article on writing, “Ten Road Signs For The Beginning Writer”, recently appeared in AbsoluteWrite.com. She has published a monthly sewing column, short stories for children, fantasy, and a number of articles. Her writing has appeared in magazines such as AARP Magazine, Popular Needlework, Farm Wife News, Bread For Children, Capper’s Weekly, Penman Magazine, Faith at Work, and others. Currently she is writing fiction just for the fun of it. She can be contacted at email@example.com.