Jess could barely see where she was stepping now that the moon had gone behind a cloud. One hand carefully cradled her swollen pregnant belly the other stretched out in front to protect her face and body as she made her way through the bush.
She stopped walking as another wave of pain washed over her from another contraction. Jess panted as the wave receded, catching her breath and looking around to get her bearings back. With each contraction she had been focusing inwards to the imminent birth, loosing outward focus on her surroundings.
Ahead of her the stand of trees marked the way down to the edge of the clear water lake and the secluded shore Jess sought. Something had been pushing her this last month to visit this lonely stretch of shore. The last time Jess had been here was with her grandfather when she was a little girl. She did not understand why she had remembered this place or even how to get here.
Yesterday the urge to get here and get here fast had overtaken any other plans she had made for the long weekend. She had not stopped to let anyone know where she was going. Her partner Will was away again, he travelled every month. She had driven a full day to get to the ferry. Leaving her car on the mainland she had caught the last ferry across to the island. Then she had walked, first along the beach and then inland through the bush toward the clear water lake.
The contractions had started early in the day and had been growing in duration and intensity as she walked along. Of all the thoughts crowding through her head, the most insistent was a memory of a day she had spent on the shores of the clear water lake with her grandfather. Her grandfather had held her hand as they had walked along the lake edge; she could hear his voice now in her head but could not make out what he was saying.
The moon came out from behind the cloud to light the way through the trees. Jess had watched the total lunar eclipse from the beach earlier in the evening and now took the last few steps to the lake edge under the glow of the blood moon. And with each step she felt she was no longer alone. She was frightened but not enough to turn back.
Another contraction hit, this one longer and more painful. The pain was strong enough to drive Jess to her knees. Facing the lake she sank to her knees cradling her belly and waited for the pain to recede. As the pain ebbed and Jess became aware of her surroundings again, she thought, now what?
The gentle waves lapping the edge of the lake was the only noise as the pack emerged from the bush to circle and finally surround Jess. Some sat; others lay down their front paws facing inwards to the circle. All bathed in the red glow of the moon.
Each pack member looked toward Jess, their eyes ready to bear witness to the coming event. Jess could hear her grandfather clearly now.