Calm Before the Storm

CUTTER GAP was always full of change. The long, drab winters would slowly, slowly release their holds on the rugged mountains, and new life for a new year would begin to appear. The maples and wild cherries, always the first to spring to life, would shoot out red and bright chartreuse colored buds, announcing their arrival with a sort of giddiness. A brown doe with her big, cautious eyes would bring another fawn, perhaps two, into the world, and they would sniff the air as carefully and instinctively as their mother and would welcome this new environment. Yes, change would take place in Cutter Gap and often, as in the Cove's circumstance, would bring more beauty, more love, and more wonder.

But it would also bring more hardship, especially when the outside world began to intrude upon God's creation. World War 1 had officially begun several months prior, and now the outside world that the mountain folk dreaded was beginning to force itself to the top of everyone's minds.

Whispers.... rumors... known facts of the brutality of this war were beginning to make themselves known in Cutter Gap. The men folk were even beginning to succumb to it, talking about the war as they worked at the mill or plowed their land, or worked their bees. Even at the schoolhouse, World War 1 was beginning to show itself as a new favorite topic. Everyone speculated about what they did not know, and felt sick inside over what they did. But the war had not really claimed anyone, at least not yet. And it was so distant a thing in the Cove's opinion, something that was going on "o'er yan"... that nobody really dwelled on any one aspect of it for too long.

Yes... Cutter Gap, that little world hidden in the rich folds of those beautiful, breathtaking Smoky mountains and that lonely little Cove as deep and refreshing as a cool mountain spring, had stood the onward, relentless march of time again and again. Summer, winter, springtime, harvest, rain or shine, cold or heat, wars, moonshining, planting, harvesting, births, deaths... there was scarce a thing that this Cove, held so dear by so many people, had yet to see. In fact, the only thing that altered much about the Cove was its families...

"Come on, Christy lass, you can do it." Neil held onto his wife's hand, which was covered in perspiration, and lovingly encouraged her as she continued to struggle to bring new life into the world.

As Neil listened to the groans, moans, and occasional cries of the one person on earth who held his heart, he felt grief mixed with joy and anticipation. As a doctor, and one who had been through this, had dealt with a woman in labor, literally hundreds of times before... this was nothing new and he felt confident that he had done all the right things, taken all the right precautions. But as a husband watching the woman he loved struggle in pain, and unable to bear even some of the burden... he felt sorrow. His other half, his life companion, was in agony and he could not take it from her, which he gladly would.

"Almost there, sweetheart... keep pushing..." For Christy, she had never been in such pain. Even her inner thighs ached, and burned almost unbearably, with every passing moment. With one long groan she shut her eyes and laid her head back against the sweat-drenched pillow underneath, and she felt like crying in exasperation. It had been nearly two hours of this, and she wanted to quit.

Opening her eyes once more, she felt her husband's loving hand and looked up into his wonderful blue eyes... they were terrified. No one else probably would have gathered that by looking at the doctor, her doctor, because the man had an excellent mask on. But his eyes, she had soon discovered not long into marriage, would never, could never, lie to her... even when everything else about him was saying different. She wondered over his current state and then the thought struck her... his first baby died, as well as his wife. And the baby had died shortly after childbirth, with Margaret dying not long after.

He's scared... is he worried he might have to go through it a second time? She thought, suddenly taking great pity on her husband, and, in the midst of her torment, looking at him with love and compassion. He was worried about her, and their child.

I won't give up. She determined in her mind, giving her husband a tired but heartfelt smile before another contraction urged her to push again.

Thirty-four minutes later, an exhausted Christy cried out once more, then allowed her head to drop back on the pillow as blood and her baby's bottom and legs passed from her into the world. She opened her eyes again, and still panting, smiled brightly as Neil held their child in his arms... tears in his eyes and absolutely the largest smile she had ever seen on him. Her heart was leaping for joy as she watched his hands - so big and clumsy next to such a small, elegant thing! - reach down to gently run his thumb down the child's arm. Their baby had its eyes shut, but seemed to react positively to this caress.

"We have a son" he announced, with great love and warmth in his voice. He looked up at his wife tenderly and gently leaned over to give her their new precious bundle. Once she had taken the child, and before he let go, his kissed her, sweetly and lovingly on her sweaty forehead, before releasing and leaning back. He looked at Christy... his bride, his queen in shining garments. It didn't matter than she was wearing a now blood stained white linen nightgown and her brunette hair had been pulled back haphazardly from her face, only to fall forward again in sweaty clumps that clung to her sticky skin.

She was gorgeous in his eyes.

Tag: Hey guys, long time no see. Sorry... so much has happened with me recently. But guess what? If you'll still be interested in reading... I'll continue writing now.

So... read and review? Have I lost my touch so far?