Love, Secrets and Absolution
As the snowflakes fell, Grace shivered and instinctively stroked her bulging baby bump. Last night’s heavy snowfall was unusual for March and had taken everyone by surprise, including Grace who was ill prepared for the long walk to the doctor’s surgery. Underneath her unbuttoned teal blue Dannimac coat, she wore a hand-knitted cardigan and a velour maternity dress. Her swollen feet were uncomfortable in the brown moccasin boots she had squeezed them into. She sighed out loud. It’s going to be a cold and miserable trek to the baby clinic, she thought.
As soon as Grace stepped into the doctor’s surgery, the warm air hit her and she instantly became relaxed. She notified the receptionist of her presence and sat down on a brown utilitarian chair. As she gazed around the small waiting room she acknowledged the other mums-to-be, all of whom were younger than her. ‘Ayup, Grace, not long now eh, till your baby’s due,’ said a red-haired girl wearing a bright orange maternity dress. Just then, Grace experienced a sharp kick from her baby, she smiled and lovingly stroked her baby bump.
‘Shouldn’t be too long now,’ she replied.
The matronly midwife measured her baby bump to calculate the fundal height, and advised that according to her calculations the due date was today! However, after completing a multitude of other examinations, the midwife declared with some trepidation that Grace wouldn’t be giving birth just yet. ‘Your baby is a stubborn one and definitely nowhere near ready to come. Ain’t got its head engaged yet.’ the midwife chortled. Grace became frustrated, what did the midwife mean by “head not engaged”?
As Grace set off home and waded through the snowy village, she kept thinking of this strange terminology. She was so engrossed in her thoughts, that she lost concentration and tripped on a broken paving slab hidden beneath the snow. She fell onto the wet, cold, ground in an uncompromising position. With her coat spread out across the glistening snow, and her olive green maxi dress sprawled around her, she looked just like a huge beached whale.
Fortunately, one of her husband’s work colleagues’ drove by on his way to the afternoon shift down the mine. Laurence stopped the car and assisted Grace to her feet, ‘Please don’t mention this to Paul, I don’t want him worrying,’ pleaded Grace. However, her words must have fallen on deaf or mischievous ears, for within the hour, her husband arrived home with an anxious look on his face.
‘The whole colliery knows about your tumble, Grace. Laurence put it on the Tannoy system for me to go home as soon as possible, to look after you,’ he said whilst composing himself. ‘I felt sick with worry on hearing the message. All of my mates ushered me off the coal face with as much speed as one would expect in a colliery emergency and they send their regards. You should have seen the gaffers face, it was a sight to behold!’ He stated. ‘Not to worry,’ he said, ‘my shift was coming to an end anyway.’
Paul had rushed home still covered in black coal dust, his eyes rimmed with thick black lines, which almost looked like skilfully applied kohl eyeliner. He looked rather attractive she thought, almost exotic looking, deep, and interesting with the sooty lashes framing his soft brown eyes. ‘No time for a shower I’m afraid, not when my first child might have a rude awakening from his comfort zone and make an imminent arrival.’