I’m attempting to write a fiction short story about a young woman living in a cult. This is the intro.
Anna stood at the front gate, waiting for the midwife Joanna to drive up in her old and rusty truck. It was nearly dusk and late summer or early autumn, depending who you asked. Before her Anna could see the dirt road that ran all through their community, and beyond that the grazing pasture. Behind her sat Anna’s cabin, squat and shabby and comfortable beneath the majestic branches of a pair of oak trees.
The cabin had been a gift to Anna from the community. It was the cabin of the midwife’s apprentice and would be hers so long as she served. It had a wide front porch under a sloping roof, a small bedroom just big enough for a single bed, a wash room, and an open front room with a few squishy sofas, a small kitchen in the corner, and a library’s worth of books. There were books on healing herbs and books on mending bones, but the most important books were the diaries of all the midwives before Joanna.
It was the midwife’s duty to watch each pregnancy and birth and record them, and to record the family trees of the community. The diaries were a combination genealogy and medical history going back generations. No one had to wonder where they came from or what their ancestors had been like with these books. Mysterious ailment that afflicted members of the same family over generations could be monitored. Anna had wanted to a be a midwife as much for the books as she had for the babies. When her nineteenth birthday came around and still no man had asked her to marry, she was glad to be offered the apprenticeship. Without it, she would still be living at home with parents, never truly an adult in her own right. The cabin gave her independence.
Joanna tapped on the truck horn, pulling Anna out of her thoughts. Anna climbed into the passenger’s seat. “How far apart are contractions?” she asked. “Only a few minutes at this point,” Joanna answered. Then seeing the look of worry on Anna’s face she added, “Don’t fret, child. Mother Mary has always had smooth labors. She’s done this well three times before and the babe is just a singleton.” Anna nodded and pulled her face into a more neutral expression. She didn’t know if she would ever walk into a birth without her heart pounding in her chest. Joanna was calm and light-hearted, chattering away about local gossip.
“And that’s when Joseph came out and saw his sons playing with a skunk! I bet they got switches that night!” She laughed and Anna laughed with her as they turned up the driveway to Mary and Caleb’s farmhouse. Caleb had taken their three children to his brother’s farm nearby to wait out the birth, and the house was quiet without their squeals and running feet across the hardwood floors.
Mary was waiting for them in her bedroom. “Hi!” she smiled through the sweat of labor on her face. “Make yourselves comfortable!” Joanna gently steered Mary toward the bed to take her heart rate and blood pressure readings. “Now, now,” she chided, “That’s your job. Anna, go put a kettle on.”
Three hours later with no complications, Mary gave birth to a little girl she and Caleb had decided to name Tabitha, after his departed mother. Propped up in bed nursing little Tabitha, Mary looked both exhausted and exhilarated. Joanna inspected the baby’s latch and deemed it worthy. “This one will do just fine,” she said, patting Mary’s shoulder, “Just fine.”