Annie felt the cold ground momentarily. Pain shot through her, its heat seared as she struggled to keep her calm. She knew it was to be expected but nothing, nothing prepared her for the reality of this. Joyous, she was not feeling it at all. There were times through this ordeal where she could hardly feel her limbs, and she thought she heard the sound of the wolf howl. Who should she believe?
The wise man had said it was a sign of goodness in the world but… but the Grandmam warned of its ill omen. Grandmam was no shaman but she had been for the women of the village for so long that a patina of respectability and wisdom surrounded her, elevating her as the Woman who must not be taken lightly. Grandmam was not one of Annie’s blood relations, she was merely the woman who had raised Annie since 5 moons after her birth. Annie’s mother had gone to meet the great goddess and her father had been unable or maybe unwilling to care for Annie. No matter, Grandmam was as close to a blood relation that Annie had.
And this woman was now lifting a smoking bowl over her… to ward off the evil that would besiege her otherwise. It was a belief of the tribe that a smoking bowl of burnt pomelo skin and coal be hung over a woman on such an occasion. The way Annie was feeling then, it did not seem to her that it had done any good. Annie did not trust that it would do her any favour soon.
There it was again, the wolf howl. A cold shiver ran down Annie’s spine even as another shot of pain hit her from her lower body straight up and Annie swore it hit her mind. No one had told her this would happen, no one. For a brief moment, Annie felt her ire rose against the women in the tribe, and more against Elim. He had left her to this, this unimaginable terror. And in the dead of night. Candles were lit, bouncing light from the two people in the room… shadows moving and whispering in the dim room. Neither one was him. How could he? And where was he?
Annie found herself drifting off to happy times, that was what spring had brought. The village blossomed as the flowers of the field; smiles and laughter of a certain carefree nature. Their village was not abundant but Annie knew they managed to have enough, enough to see them through the cold period. Spring was also a time of creation… Annie smiled at where her thoughts took her, then grimaced as the pain became more unbearable. How much worse could it get?
Gusts of wind slammed against the tent. And probably snow too, Annie thought. The silence of the world outside the flapping of the cowhide walls, the cold seeping into Annie’s bones. The wolf howl gave Annie an unusual sensation, a certain foreboding.
Annie wanted to believe in the wise man, but who was she kidding… The Reverent One did not like being contradicted though he had no qualifying feature to advise to-be mothers like her. What did he know about women and childbirth?
Annie wanted Elim. He always calmed her, but tonight of all nights, he was absent from her side when she most needed him. She understood he was needed on the night hunt. The village’s food store must be filled to see them through the even colder months to come, so their warriors were sent out to do the villagers’ bidding.
Goodness or ill omen, Annie tried to stop herself from thinking about it just as another searing pain tore through her body. In the haze, she heard Grandmam’s voice telling her it was all over, the baby was born and that it was a strong boy. A boy who resembled his father. Annie smiled or tried to. This was good, another warrior for the village. Elim was a handsome man, the man whom she had fought to win over. They had been happy. Annie knew the cold must have gotten worse as numbness spread through her body. The layers of pelt and fur, laid on top of the cow hide used to insulate her from the cold, was gradually losing its effect. At least the pain was gone. A distant voice asked if she would like to feed her baby. She tried to answer, but the voice drifted away leaving her to the cold as her eyes remained closed, as her soul rose to meet her love.
And in that instant in a forest somewhere north, Elim closed his eyes against the night sky, the cold a warm blanket to his weary body.
This is a part of Friday Fiction with RonovanWrites Prompt Challenge. The prompt for this week is “[T]ake a moment in your life of which you would celebrate and use that as inspiration…” AND “[U]se the same experience for a story in one of the following Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Thriller.”
Mine was birthing and the story went where it did… Oh, constructive feedback is most welcomed.
© 2016 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.