I want to tell you a story.
It goes a bit like this. Many many years ago, there was this little boy, an ordinary boy by all accounts. He lived in a small town in the country. He had a dramatic entry into this world as his mother gave birth by the stream that whispered gently past the sloping bank at the bottom of their back yard. It was a bitingly cold dull Winter’s day. The frosted ground seeped as she walked at a brisk pace toward the stream. Molly was shivering with anticipation knowing her time was near. It was going to be a boy, a bonnie boy because the old widow McGregor, who had kept a sharp eye on her from the day Alfred had told her that she was with child, had made it her business to watch fiercely over her. It was about this time that her husband Tom Black, the towns ‘Jack of all Trades, was given payment for fixing O’Malley’s 1915 Rolls-Royce 40/50 Silver Ghost Limousine. Tom had once worked for the infamous Henry Royce as a motor man.. “Timeless precision” he would say to Tom, “You’ll see son, mark my words!”
Snapped back to reality with the searing spike of iced steel as
O’ Malley snarled, “Here’s ya payment” his beady eyes gleaming with malice when he caught the surprised look on Tom’s face as he threw the wriggling sugar sack at him. Blood seeped through the fibers as Tom went down on one knee to scoop up the now limp sack.
Molly was nearing her birthing time and the widow was in attendance. Fire danced around the chipped enamel pot filled with water, now nearing the boil. Anticipation was high as were spirits. There was a calmness in the air, not a sound from the birds perched looking down from their prime position. It was as though Mother Nature herself had orchestrated this birthing. The silence, broken with a scream that permeated into the very soul of all the living creatures and the air was filled with curlicue, feathers and dust mingled and danced a merry tune as Molly gave birth. It was just as the widow McGregor had foretold, a bonnie boy, the spitting image of his mother, with a fine crop of red hair and eyes as blue as the ocean itself!
Tom opened the bloodied sack, reached gently inside and found the wet and limp creature. Bones snapped from the cruel thrust as O’Malley flung the little animal to the earth. Slowly and lovingly gentle hands cupped this little bundle of fur and immediately there was a whimper. A weakened tongue reached out to the rough calloused hand as Tom slowly pulled the puppy from its prison. Blood stained and matted fur touched Tom Black and he could no longer contain the mountain of tears that had welled in his eyes. The anger came and his body was consumed with rage. Rage that another human would have such disregard for the life of this beautiful mutt.
His moment of rage was broken only by the heavy footed and breathless Alfred, who had raced from the stream shouting “It’s a boy!! It’s a boy” as he stumbled over Tom, nearly trampling the wee mutt, his excitement no longer contained. “A bonnie boy! He managed with a wheezed breath. He stopped! His gaze on the wriggling sack as the little blood soaked puppy inched its way into the light.
The Widow McGregor was wrapping the baby in the warm muslin cloth preparing to put him to Molly’s breast. Her milk was flowing and the baby needed the nourishment. She took her blade and severed the cord, disengaging the life thread that had been his cocoon for the past nine months. As was tradition, she then assisted Molly up and together they buried the placenta. Long before the birth, Molly had decided that the Weeping Willow which had provided many hours of welcoming shade during those hot sultry summer nights, and scorching days, the Willow that proudly embraced their initials inside a roughly carved heart was the right place to bury the child’s placenta. It was their special place. A place of learning, of inquiring minds and stolen kisses. Often Molly would say to Tom. “Look, the tree is blushing..it’s weeping” after their intimate embrace.
It was now time for her to endure the walk back to their cottage, she knew that Alfred would have a fresh broth at the ready and she would regain her strength quickly. There was much preparation still to do. They had already decided the name they would give their son. He would be called Toby!