unable to fly
useless angel...ugh. Let's see where this goes...
The midwife stood and made her way to the quivering door. The only baby that was due--wasn't. She wrinkled her nose and reached for the door.
The man was still shouting--pounding on the rough hewn wood that stood between them.
Serina slid the bolt back and he nearly fell through the open doorway and onto the wizened woman. "Back, Petros!" she snapped, faintly wondering how much of what dripped from the man was rain and what was perspiration. Men. They were always like this with their firstborn. Always simpering, useless idiots. And yet women kept having sex with them. She shrugged into the cloak that always hung by her door. Eh, such were the true mysteries of life. Birth--death--they were not mysterious. Both were merely cycles to be ridden out. Love--that was the greatest mystery.
He was babbling. "--Mother Serina, it is too early--"
Pfah, she hated the title the townspeople had assigned her. Mother? A term of respect or a bitter pill to swallow as Serina had born no children of her own. She had been present at hundreds of births in her lifetime but had never once carried a child back to her own home. She wrestled a moment with the shabby barn door and finally yanked it open, spraying water. Thank the gods the rain had stopped. But Petros had not...
"--her water has broken and she is crying--"
Serina nodded, a curt movement. She saddled the swayback mare as Petros paced and cursed. She shook her head. Utterly useless. "Up, Petros!" she demanded and he lifted her onto the horse with a swiftness she feared would toss her over the other side. "Take the reins, Petros. As fast as you can lead us is as fast as we may ride."
Petros was out the door and racing into the darkness with them faster than Serina had imagined a man of his size could move. She thanked the gods she had the forethought to make him hold the reins--without the physical connection she might have easily misplaced him in the gathering blackness. She clucked to the mare. "Follow, Tilda. Follow."
The graying mare obeyed, a ghost in the soggy night spattering mud up as the rain began to fall down once more.
Timairin stood by the roadside, just one more tall shadow nestled between the slender trunks of the trees. Cloaked, wings tucked against her back, she watched the hurried progress of the man leading the horse that now struggled to keep up in the sticky mud. She blinked. Something tugged at the back of her mind, warning her. She knew she should not be here. Should not be preparing to do this thing she had impulsively planned. Should not contemplate going against the God.
She closed her eyes and sighed. There were few choices for an angel when their God had gone mad. She reached a hand out towards the horse on the road below.
The mare slowed to a stop, nearly pulling Petros off his feet and into the ankle-deep mud. She whickered. Petros cursed. In the saddle, the old woman pulled the cloak tighter, trying to keep out the strange chill she suddenly felt raising the hairs on her arms.
Unseen, Timairin shed the cloak and her mortal form, slipped down the slope like dappled moonlight and slid into the old woman's skin. She shuddered as she seeped into Serina and sought the midwife's soul, tucking it away so there'd be less problem later. With a touch she set the horse into motion again, filling it with a line of light that flowed into its veins like a rush of youth.
Petros now lagged behind as the horse launched forward, seeming to know instinctively when to turn and when to stay straight on the rutted and torn track connecting the villages. The house glowed in Timairin's eyes and she felt the woman's labor long before she heard her cries of distress. The door stood open and Timairin wore the midwife like a fleshy costume, dismounting and racing inside to stand beside the woman now stretched on the home's only bed.
The bystanders gasped to see old Serina move so fast and Timairin tried to temper her reactions to the expectations of the crowd. Finding the old woman's voice, she said, "Out, you!" With a shake of a gnarled fist she cleared the room of all but the frantic husband. This type was always the worst. Timairin tried to ignore him and focus on the writhing woman. She took Betka's hand in her left, passing her right hand gently along the woman's bulging midsection. She shook her head. The energy was too tangled, too thick and angry to glimpse the real story without going deeper...
"I must consider the safest action to take," she made the midwife say to Petros. He nodded.
Good, she would need his belief to buy her time for what came next.
She sucked in a breath and tugged slightly out of the midwife so that her spirit was free to reach what even spirited hands might not. Sinking glimmering fingers into the swirling mess of energy, she slowly teased them apart like a spinner with new fiber. Ah--the baby showed himself--angry, red and gloriously wrinkled. But positioned wrong. Not breech, no, that would be simple. Wrapped in his own cord, strangling, fighting and his back up against his only true exit.
Timairin heard the words as if cotton filled her ears. She stepped fully out of the midwife and opened the box where the soul was stored with haste. The woman might be disoriented, but she might prove more useful yet on her own.
The midwife stuttered, blinked and rushed to staunch the flow of blood. Timairin saw something had torn loose inside the woman, something she had no name for, yet knew would probably end her life before the woman knew the true meaning of motherhood. And still, the baby fought as the mother faded. She had to make a choice. The baby or the mother. Both--an impossibility even the most optimistic of angels could recognize. Life in the mortal world was about balance... Equilibrium.
Something crept out of the shadows at the room's corner, unseen by the man, the woman or the midwife. But Timairin knew it well. The spectre sat up straight, a mix of wolf, wyvern and something far less holy. Two horns sprouted from its head and it fixed its hungry gaze on the weakening woman and the child she had yet to bear.
Timairin's wings swept in protectively. Not both. She struggled to pierce the veil of the future, knowing those hunting her might track her more easily once she did. Still, Timairin sought the knowledge deemed forbidden to all but the God himself.
She hissed at what she saw, sending a cool breeze across Betka. The woman shivered in the draft. Petros was beside her now, wiping the sweat from her brow, whispering reassurances.
But no words could fix something so broken. If the mother survived she would live a few years in a weakened state. There would be no child for her, only sadness at what might have been. But if the child lived... There was hope like this world hadn't seen in lifetimes. And this child would be that hope's companion and nemesis--and so much more.
"Stay with her Petros," Serina whispered. "I cannot stop the bleeding."
"What?" he gasped. But he nestled closer to his wife, held her hand tighter and whispered still more tenderly. And he prayed. He prayed harder than he had ever prayed before.
Timairin sank her fingers into the whirling energy, wings tucked close around her like a shield. And as she reached the strangling babe, she became material enough within the woman's womb to grab the child and unwrap the cord and reposition him.
"I might yet save the child..."
Petros wiped at his face.
Timairin pulled back, wingtips trailing. As the child faded from her sight, she saw a small fist reach up determinedly--like even he sensed victory--and he snatched a feather from her disappearing wings. She gasped in surprise, but the shock of being recognized by anyone was quickly replaced with a tenderness for this child who fought for life and stole feathers from twice-fallen angels.
The beast in the corner snarled and Timairin reached across and snapped off one of the two horns on its misshapen head. Not both, her eyes glowed. Then she leaned over the woman and kissed her forehead, drawing back to watch as Betka rallied for a final push and then fell into a fevered sleep.
Timairin heard the sound of trumpets and knew she must speed away to evade the hunters now. Readying to blend back in to the cramped and dirty mortal world she had come to prefer, she heard Serina say: "A healthy boy--how odd--he's holding a perfectly white feather..."
And the little one shrieked his triumph as his angel fled the scene.
Ok, what you don't know is that this scene came to me years ago when I was listening to a Celine Dion song. I wrote an original version that (if read at a normal pace) could coincide with the song lyrics. I was working on comics and animation then and had a strong desire to blend a few things together. But I don't know where that original version got to. That was an entire hard drive ago. This scene is actually the genesis of one of my main characters from a YA-styled thing I was writing some years ago. Some day I'd like to return to it, but for now it sort of reminded myself of its existence as I was brainstorming.
Hope you found it interesting,