Resting atop my enormous belly, the healing-stone feels smooth and cool, but it does not lessen the waves of pain.
Beneath me, the rush mat is damp with sweat. My lady passes me a cup and I sip the mixture, breathing deeply of its vapours. It helped at first, although that seems long ago.
I’m not afraid of pain but I’m afraid for my child. In the early months I was out walking when a storm swept across Texcoco and lightning cleaved a tree near my path. It jolts me still; the split trunk severed like a broken bone, smoke from its fresh scar rising to meet the rain.
I told my husband my fears. “We must hold to our faith,” he said, wrapping me in his arms. “You cannot undo what you saw, Tayanna.”
All night I’ve lain here and now, through the small window, first light is showing. Market-sellers and farmers will soon be toiling as usual beneath the golden sun.
Of all my labours, it’s been the easiest; I’ve three children around my hearth already. I might relax, but the image of the stark white streak doesn’t fade; shock has blighted me and buried deep, perhaps to where my child is curled.
My next pains are the strongest yet and my lady comes close. I grasp her hand. “Nearly there, Tayanna,” she says, softly. Her serenity’s a balm more than I can say.
As the sun reaches its apex, my baby is born bellowing like a miniature warrior. He’s the loudest I’ve known and I’m engulfed by relief. My lady joins in, rhythmically chanting to praise his arrival.
My heart’s pounding a beat to the sounds around me. “Thank you, Xochiquetzal,” I whisper.
CHRISTINE COLLINSON writes historical short fiction. She’s been longlisted in the Bath Flash Fiction Award and by Reflex Flash Fiction. Her work has also appeared in Ellipsis Zine and FlashBack Fiction, among others. Find her on Twitter @collinson26.
Image via Pixabay