This piece was inspired by the following photograph. It is outside of my normal style of writing and stretches me out of my comfort zone as it is a little otherworldly. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Meredith’s mother did not approve of her afternoon walk to the forest. None of her mothers had approved of most things Meredith did, but they never argued. They were wary of her, their feelings bordering on fear. She knew the time was approaching. These human bodies wore out quickly, and each time the process started over. The first had lasted only six months. The second almost two years. She had lost count. Each time she shed the human shell, she observed the look of relief on her mothers’ faces. Her new mothers were elated, but the elation soon turned to sadness. As the new body grew and stretched, the mother’s anguish increased.
This time she made it 12 human years. This body had nothing left for her to take. The transition time was near. She always wished it could happen here, alone at the edge of the forest, but she knew the process. Luckily, this time, the neighbor’s wife was with child, and that child would be relinquished and the process would begin again. All her prior transitions had been within hours after the human birth. This time, she wanted to be there from the start. She had the power to transition before the birth now, but it required more time preparation, as the sun relaxed its hold on the energy she needed to survive.
”Thank you for coming, Simone. This child has been a difficult one.”
”She has such a high fever. Have you sent for the doctor?” Simone thought Meredith was such a beautiful child – she hoped her child would be as lovely.
”No, not yet. I hoped she would come around. It’s such a long trip for the doctor and she might recover on her own.” Constance was tired. 12 years she had tried to love this distant child, but something about Meredith was foreboding. Even as a young child, mothering her was torturous. Maybe it was best to release her, but these were words she would never utter out loud. No one could understand. She decided it was best to let nature take its course and hope this would be the end.
“Let’s let her rest. How about a cup of tea?” As they walked toward the kitchen, the house grew dark and a bitter chill fell over them.
Simone stumbled as she made her way to the table.
“Oh, honey! Are you okay?” Constance held her arm and helped her into the chair.
Simone tried to gather herself. The baby moved so suddenly it caused a sharp pain to rip through her abdomen.
“Could I have some water?”
After a few minutes, Simone seemed to regain her composure.
“You scared me. It’s too soon for labor. You have another six weeks to go.” Constance rested her hand on her neighbor’s shoulder.
“I think I should get back to the house. Sam will be home soon and I’d like to lie down for a bit.” Simone stood slowly. “I hope your angel gets better soon.”
The next morning, the sun broke through the window early. Constance rose to check on Meredith. She had not moved since the prior afternoon. She entered the room and glanced at her daughter. Her eyes were open, but her body cold and white. Constance sat down on the side of the bed and gently closed her eyes, putting a penny on each one. She breathed a sigh of relief as she felt the release of 12 long years of frustration and fear.
“I don’t think you were ever my child, really. I’m not sure where you have gone, but I’m relieved you are no longer here.”
She closed the bedroom door and waited for the doctor to arrive.