Espoir: A Tale of Sugar, Silence, and Secrets (part eight)

Gail Marlene Schwartz, Gail Writes Copywriting Editing

December 23, 2016

Nine months later, Pawnald was out hunting with Cedar. Deeply engrossed with pursuing a buck, he lost track of where he was. A powerful storm developed. Pawnald knew that Autumn was due any day but he needed to bring back the buck so they would be able to eat and be warm in the approaching winter months after the baby was born. He continued to follow the buck, but lightning struck a tree in his path and the prey escaped.

 

Pawnald tried to get his bearings but the downpour was so heavy and the clouds so thick that he couldn’t find the north star. He did find a cave, luckily, and he hopped down from Cedar and led him inside.

Meanwhile, Autumn’s contractions had started and she was pacing around the hut, counting. Where was Pawnald? She tried breathing the way pregnant women did in the movies but she still felt like she was being stabbed each time. Soon the contractions were just three minutes apart. She thought of Renée, her favorite saying: “spontenaity is the best training.” She squatted down, let out a holy wail, and felt the baby’s head emerge.

Back in the cave, Pawnald was pacing. He felt a sudden psychic jolt. Something had happened in the hut, but what? Was Autumn ok?

 

In the hut, Autumn was screaming, crying, singing. She stumbled to the sink with the baby and cut the cord with the carving knife she had taken from her childhood home. She took a cloth, held it out an open window in the rain, and then with it wiped the baby down. She continued singing, crying, laughing, and now talking to the baby. “Mon enfant,” she cooed. “Mon beau enfant.” Her heart beat like a bass drum, keeping time to her song.

And then, in the distance, hoofbeats. Louder and louder.

Pawnald and Cedar burst into the hut. Autumn handed him the baby and fainted. Pawnald took his daughter with one hand, and Autumn’s head into his lap with the other. He stroked her sweaty bloody hair. The baby cried. Cedar neighed. Pawnald began to sing, slowly, “Prend un enfant par la main…”

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