The Childless

On the eve of the rather desolate October, all Mr McLaren could hear were the dismal cries of his wife. “Too soon! Too soon!” she shrieked. As she cradled the pale baby girl, the algid tears reached it’s forehead, but the only response was the girl’s soulless eyes peering through the slightly lifted eyelids. Mr McLaren, lifted his feet steadily up the stairs. As he took his first step of the night into the girl’s room an immense feeling of grief came over him. He then made his way across the tenebrous room to his wife, who was standing in the sliver moonlight that pierced through the darkness from the window. He lifted her frail face with his hand and gave her a frigid kiss on the forehead, he then took the baby girl from her quivering arms. As he took the baby, Mrs McLaren’s legs gave way and she fell to the floor in a crumpled heap. Nothing was as it were before from that night onward.

Two years have passed and Mr and Mrs McLaren, on the anniversary of their daughters death, make their way to her grave which resides in the south of the Lake Forest Cemetery. The kaleidoscope of green complemented the warm sunshine that pierced through the forest. As they grew closer to where their daughter lay, Mrs McLaren came to a halt, closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Two years, two years it has been and this void still fills my heart,” she whispered to her husband. “It will take time,” he responded.
They reached the grave and Mrs McLaren knelt down, kissed the tombstone and placed a bouquet of yellow and white roses upon the front of the grave. Tears filled her eyes as she thought about how life would have been with Ruth. Watching her take her first steps, saying her first words, her first day of school, her first love – the thoughts threw the childless mother into such anguish that she had to leave. She took one last look back and then ascended into the carriage and they made their way home.

The McLarens reached their home just as the sun slid under the horizon, the sky was still lit and the first stars began to sprout. Their home reached far and wide, a farm house of 3 bedrooms surrounded by acres of farm land. Mr John McLarens was a simple farmer, that worked in the fields and then partook in the reward of his labor at the end of the day by sitting down to a meal with his wife. His wife, Mrs Joan McLarens, taught children and cooked. She is well known in the town, which is quite a distance from their home. Her work began with the children in the hospital. She first started off by reading to sick children, which then lead to her teaching them school on a day-to-day basis. The loss of her child made an impact on her emotionally, but she forbade herself to let it effect her work with the children. On that eve of the 2nd anniversary of their childs death, the McLarens home was quiet and a sombre feeling lingered in the air.

The next day Joan arose in the same sepulchral state as every other morning. She gazed out of her bedroom window to John in the field and listened to the soothing tone he whistled. She then got up and prepared herself for the day and made her way to town, where all the children of the town were waiting for the lesson. Just as any other day, she taught the class and then waited for the children’s parents to fetch them. As they waited, the children sang songs and played games, some of which Joan involved herself. Some time had passed and most of the children had departed, leaving one child: Naomi. She was a small girl of 5 years, blond locks and blue eyes. The sun traveled across the sky as time went by and still they waited. Joan loved this time the most and everyday she wished that it would never cease, for Naomi was her favorite of all. While they sat together Joan then began to think about how she loved Naomi and wished she was hers. Then that thought echoed in her mind, “if she were mine.” At that moment, without a second thought, she picked Naomi up, mounted on her horse and began to gallop across the tapestry of land. The up and down motions of the horse made Naomi burst out in laughter and this brought tears to Joan. All Joan could hear in her mind was, “she can be mine if we go far away, where no-one could find us.”

When they reached the Lake Forest, which was adjacent to the Lake Forest Cemetery, Joan brought the horse to a halt, dismounted and tied it to a near-by tree. With Naomi slumbering silently in her arms she trod into the vegetated forest and found a soft patch of moss to lay on. She lay there and cradled Naomi in her arms while she drifted into a deep sleep. Joan then awoke and all she could feel was the moss of which she fell asleep on. Suddenly she realized that she couldn’t feel Naomi in her arms! Distraught she got up and ran through the forest screaming out Naomi’s name, at that point she tripped over a rock. Lifting her head to see what she had tripped over she shrieked with horror. There in front of her was a tombstone with the name “Naomi Cattaway.”
“WHY? WHY TAKE HER AWAY TOO?”, she vigorously cried out.
“She is not yours,” a voice echoed.
“W-w-who is that?”, she called out in a trembling voice.
Suddenly she found herself in a white room. She stood up and lifted her hands to shield her eyes from the incandescent light from the walls.
“If you do not return her she will remain deceased, BUT if you return her to her rightful home, she will live,” the voice echoed again.
“What about me? Must I stay childless my whole life? Wrought with the undeniable fact that when my baby died, I too ceased to live.”, she vociferated.
“Your misfortune does not justify you to inflict that on others”, the voice whispered, now close to her ear.
“OK!”, she cried.

Joan awoke from her dream in a distressful state but soon relieved by seeing the quietly sleeping child in her arms. She then lifted Naomi and carried her to the horse and rode back to the town. She humbly gave the child back to her parents and explained that she had to get a few supplies out of town and thought that Naomi would enjoy the outing. The parents accepted this and bade Mrs McLaren farewell as she made her way back home to her husband. Thereafter, she did not utter a word of what had occurred to anyone.

A year later the home of the McLarens was filled with the cries of life from a new baby boy.

Written by: Ashleigh Koehn

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