[This story I wrote in 1983, in Tasmania, for a contest the Australian Broadcasting Commission was having. Each week, some of the stories were read over the air.]
The night had been long. Once, when the contractions were still far apart, we wandered outside arm-in-arm to stand under the forest trees. Starlight had filtered through their branches, and the moon just edging above the eastern mountains had flooded our valley in silver. The nightlife had accepted our presence and resumed their chatter. Down on the lake, geese called, almost quietly, to each other. The rustlings in the bush were our friends, who occasionally visited the cabin if a window or door was left ajar. I savoured the crispness of the night air.
As we stood leaning against each other, I could not help but begin to relax, though the knot in my stomach would not completely dissolve. As an owl screeched in the distance we had slowly picked our way back to the cabin.
But now….she was so tiny, this little one. I untangled the cord from her body, and placed her face down on Shona’s belly. Elation was slowly filtering through me as I carried on with the aftermath of the birth. I heard it also in Shona’s voice as she crooned softly to the newborn, her fingers massaging gently the infant back.
As I worked, I was aware of many things quite clearly without giving my direct attention to them; Zamphir’s pan pipes from the stereo–Shona’s favorite background music; the three scented candles—now almost stubs—burning on the bedside table; the merry crackle of pine logs from the fireplace; dawn sun warming the wall to my left; the smell of jasmine and new birth; of the absence now, of any tension in the room; of the shared warmth and quiet amazement that had taken its place.
So very tiny. I lifted the sleeping little body and immersed it slowly int he basin. She smiled then, as I sponged her, and her eyes opened. For moments then, Sharon Rose studied the movements of her hands, obviously enjoying her new life. Her eyes drooped, and finishing her bath, I dried her and took her, wrapped in the towel to sit on the side of the bed. Again, little eyes opened. This time they looked directly into mine with an openness I’d not have thought possible. Then, with great deliberateness, she turned her head to study Shone.
From the bushes beyond the window, an early morning songfest erupted.
Winner ‘Story of the Week’ prize.
Winner 3rd Grand Final Prize.
Published with other winners by the ABC in the booklet “The Story Teller.”
When I wrote it, it felt like it was a true story… that it had actually happened to me in another lifetime, or different dimension. It still feels that way, altho some of the details I’m certain came from this life….