MOTHER AND CHILD 1904. | By: Terry Collett | | Category: Short Story - Dark Bookmark and Share


You and the child. Your child. Not his not anymore. But he値l try to take the child away and they値l let him and you will never see her again. You pack everything you have for yourself and the child that you can put in the one bag and creep out of the house during the night making sure no one sees you leave and set off across the fields with only the moon and stars to show you the way. The child whimpers because of the chill and wind so you wrap her close to you tighter and hush hush her with a soft voice. You have a few hours start before he realizes you have gone and then he値l be out with others looking for you and the child. If you make the shore before daybreak, you can shelter in one of the old deserted cottages. He値l not think of looking there; he値l think you致e gone into the town and will set off there. You hope. The fields are full of damp grass and your feet are wet and the wind bites into your flesh, but you keep going, all the time hushing the baby's cries, cuddling her close as you can with the bag over your back. The hills are hard work, the fields are behind you now, the horizon beyond has nothing except stars and the moon and the far off shadow of the sea. You and the child beneath a starry sky and a chill wind at your back pushing you on. He値l find you, an inner voice whispers, and when he does you値l be sorry and wish you壇 never run away with the child. No, he won稚 you reply, he won稚 find us, but your voice is carried off into the night sky. He値l have the child, the inner voice says, and you will have nothing left to show for your loveless marriage not even a home let alone the child. Leave me alone, you say, your voice hanging about your head like a dark bird, go away, go away. You rush down the hill towards one of the deserted cottages and once there you stand outside looking at the open doorway. It is dark inside; you are unsure whether to enter, unsure what may be within. Sometimes travellers have been known to rest the night in the cottages; sometimes ruffians on the run have been captured here in the past. You stand and stare. The child cries louder. The wind pushes again your back. You listen for other sounds other than the wind and the baby痴 cries and the sea from the nearby shore. Was that a voice? Voices? Movement? You turn away from the cottage and run down towards the shore. The sea is lit up by the moon; it looks quite romantic as a view. You stand on the shore peering out, listening to the sea sounds. The baby has stopped crying, the wind has hushed. The tide is coming in; it rushes over your feet making them damper still. You feel empty now. Like one on the edge of a huge abyss staring down into fathomless darkness. Go on, walk into the sea, the inner voice says softly, he値l not have you or the child then and you値l be free. Free from all this misery, all this pain, all this black emptiness. You hug the child against your breast; you feel its small head warm against you. Small hands clutch at your shawl. The wind starts up again and pushes forward. You walk a few paces, the sea is cold, the dampness seeps into your legs and feet. You stand and stare out at the horizon: it is moonlit and shadowy. The child and you and the sea and the wind pushing and the voice saying, you are nearly there, walk on, fear nothing, no one will find you here, no one will harm you now. The sea is wild tonight and you and the child and the wind are as one beneath the bright stars and the cold moon.

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