"Lyd?" He held his wife's hand. She squeezed. Knuckles white. Eyelids creased. "Breathe, sweetie," he cooed, "You've gotta breathe."
The windows shook as the storm howled outside. Cocooning them inside with soft flakes. There would be no hospital. "Walter," she moaned, "this hurts. I do not want this." She paused as the contraction climaxed. She squeezed. Released. Resting against the pillow, her words sprouted from her very roots. "I want my mother."
He brushed a strand of hair behind her ear. "I know, sweetie," he said. "I know." He thought of his mother-in-law, erect at her potting wheel, her hands splattered with clay. Before.
Then he thought of his mother. She wouldn't have let this happen. "Like HELL my grandchild will be born AT HOME," she would have decreed. And by sheer will, she would have whisked Lydia and Walter to the hospital, braving the storm in her Saab. She probably would have stopped for espresso on the way.
He smiled, and passed a glass of water to his wife. He whispered, "You know what?" She met his gaze. "Our daughter is going to have your mother's smile. Just you wait."
The tears streaked down her face. A contraction hit, and all was sensation for a moment. She recovered, exhaling, never letting go of his hand. "I just wish she could know her."
"I do too," he said. He kissed her hand, rested it against his cheek. "I do too." He yearned to fill her emptiness for awhile. To crawl into her body and let her rest.
Instead, he held her as the storm raged against their little house. Hours passed.
With a final release, Zoe Anna Merchant entered the world.
She was the best of their mothers, wearing a new face.
For this week's Red Dress Club challenge, we were to revisit and revise an earlier piece. I took this story from my Walter and Lydia series, and turned it on its head. The original was not something that I loved. But this? Perhaps I can work with this. Concrit is appreciated.
For background, here's the rest of Walter and Lydia's story: Like a Songbird, A Fresh Face, and The Candle of Memory.