I have a small and dedicated group of followers who read what I write here on my little blog. (You guys never fail to make me feel awesome!) I love to write. It’s cathartic. I find that my fingers sometimes move with their own volition as I sit in front of my laptop. I had put away my dreams of writing while rearing my children. Now, though, I am at a point in my life where “Mother” doesn’t define my true essence. I love to sculpt with words, to evoke depth and capture moments in my life with succint and apt sentences. So. I have been working on a little story in my free time…. Can I be audacious enough to invite you to leave me feedback? Let me know if this is something YOU would read. I’m a big girl, I can take constructive criticism. Although I don’t write for the accolades, I do enjoy the delight of having people like what I do. This is where I need YOU….. Let me know via private message if you don’t want to post a comment. firstname.lastname@example.org or just post a comment below. Thank you.
From far away, she looked like an old woman, trudging up the incline. She walked up the hill, on what was more of a wide path than a road. Dusk was lurking around her and when she raised her head to acknowledge it, one would be surprised to see she was barely twenty. The black overcoat she wore, ragged and trailing on the ground behind her, hid the large belly she bore.
The smoke from the fire she had stoked up before she left was rising visibly through the thicket and she sighed, grateful for the bed, as hard as it was, that was inside, ready to welcome her body in respite.
The horse was anxious and nickered to let her know that she too was ready for rest. The woman pressed her hand to the neck of the animal in silence, and calm settled over both of them.
Slowly, they came into the clearing and she led the horse into the small lean-to that hugged the small log cabin. Grimacing, she filled the trough for the horse and led her to drink. Every movement was slightly stretched for her, the fumbling of the lead, the removal of the bags draped across the animal. Eager as she was for sleep, it was still a few hours away. As the slight twinge of cramp crossed her sacrum, she paused, eyes widened: she placed both her hands there and let out a slow feather of breath. This too, she was at once fearful of and grateful for. No more waiting and wondering. No more fear of what may come. She settled the horse, removed the bag of goods from where she had dropped it and turned to face her future.
Inside, the darkness hovered around her, until she lit the lantern. As the gold light issued forth, she looked around the space. The bed, in the corner, was made up neat. The two feather pillows lie resting against each other, nestled together like whispering lovers. The soft quilt lovingly made, pulled up tight in anticipation of sleeping bodies, warm and compliant. His shoes, waiting, tucked under the foot of the bedstead. She looked upon these for a long moment, her face with no expression. The two chairs, sitting across from each other, pushed up tight to the tiny table by the cook stove. The bare kitchen, with one shelf holding precious preserves of pears, cherries, apple butter and peaches, a small tin of tea, and a half empty sack of flour. A small cupboard, storing precious bits of lard, some potatoes and carrots and dried peas, most of it achingly empty. There, she placed her new provisions, bought from the mercantile in the town, two miles down the mountain. A small amount of sugar, as this baby inside of her knew the pleasure of sweetness already. Some cloth and thread. A tin of baking powder and another of yeast. A few other assorted needed things. The unread letter she kept with her and placed in the pocket of her dress. She took the large kettle off the stove, and went out again to the pump and filled it with the icy water.
Once the stove was stoked up with wood and the fire radiating the good heat she needed, she allowed herself to sit on the chair. With a hairpin taken from her bun, she slipped it in along the envelope and opened up the contents and read there by the yellow light in the oncoming night. Her belly sat nestled in between her opened legs. She read with a deep frown on her face. Tears welled and poured over her cheeks, unnoticed.
The silence, other than the quiet movement of the horse in the lean-to became too much for her and she stood, folding the letter away. She rummaged in the pan left on the stove and put together a leftover biscuit with a pat of butter. As she swallowed the last bite, another cramp radiated down from her back into her thighs. “Well now,” she wondered, “is this the day of reckoning, little one?” to which a strong leg pushed upwards and caused her to smile through the pain. Again she looked about her, to take stock. Remembering the births of her sisters long ago, she gathered some old rags and cloths, a knife and a pair of scissors, placing them on the chair next to the bed. For a moment, she wondered if the trek back down the mountain side would be a better choice than the one she had seemed to have already made. But the thought of that long walk in the dusk alone frightened her more than the task at hand.
She brought out worn sheets, and spread them over the quilt. The water in the kettle was beginning to murmur its nearness to boiling, so she brought down her tea to ready herself a cup and to begin the lingering time of her travail.