It’s a Long Walk Home
by Annette Edwards-Hill
They walk to the hospital, the men are working on the path outside the house, he holds her arm as she steps over broken concrete and string tied to stakes. The men stop to watch her. She feels full and overflowing. She wishes they'd finish the path.
At the hospital the midwife shows her a chart and runs her finger down the longest line, she holds up a small hook and scrapes at the air with it.
She is told to walk. They walk the corridors, up and down the stairs, they walk outside through the courtyard. The backache starts outside the children’s ward.
The pain is an avalanche, she hides in the bathroom and slaps the wall with her hands. She comes out and they strap a monitor around her. The heartbeat fills the room. And then it’s gone.
There are three, then five, then ten people in the room, they chase her as she is wheeled away. She realises her husband is part of the pack that follows her down the corridor.
‘What happened to the afternoon?’ she asks.
Under the bright light, they listen again, there’s something and then there’s nothing. She watches the nurse point to the door and her husband leaves.
Then she is awake. Her mouth is like sand, there is pressure on her eyelids. She fights to open her eyes. Her husband walks towards her. Is that mine? she asks.
They drive home. She follows her husband out of the car. He doesn’t hold her hand, his arms are full. She takes tiny steps, with each step she feels like she has been cut in half and put back together again.
The path is still in pieces. The men gone.
* * * * *
Annette Edwards-Hill lives in Wellington, New Zealand. Her writing has appeared in Flash Frontier, Bonsai: The Big Book of Small Stories (Canterbury University Press, 2018), Headland, Fictive Dream, Gravel, Brilliant Flash Fiction and others. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best Small Fictions. She was shortlisted for the New Zealand Heritage Book and Writing Awards (prose) in 2018 and was the 2017 winner of the Flash Frontier Winter Writing Award.