The Birth at Thorn Beach
Updated: May 12
The people from Thorn Beach were accustomed to change. Actually “accustomed” doesn’t say how much they were forced to face, accept and pursue change. They did not live in modeled trees like many others on the island because there were no trees around, only bushes and algae. So they used the most abundant material they could find, which matched their philosophy perfectly: sand.
Every first week of the month or so they would choose a space and build sand houses with seawater. And at some point during the month the tide would be high enough to destroy all of them. But don’t think they wouldn’t put enough effort to make the house look good, or make it big enough for their families, just because they knew it would be destroyed. No, they would always make them the best they could, and they would also enjoy the place while it existed as much as they could. If the tide was not enough to destroy your house, the owner would invite their neighbors, serve food and they would destroy the whole thing together. And a new cycle would begin.
Therefore it was no surprise to Heg when she stepped on water after getting up in the middle of the night. The tides were rising and she should probably go out to find some higher place with the others where they could watch the sunrise and the sea washing away their homes. But what was a surprise, was the pain. It started slow and then spread to her back and thighs. She touched her belly as if she could hold the baby in a little longer, but in the end, she knew it was going to happen any day now. And her baby chose a high tide.
Heg walked heavily around the house, gathering a few objects she was not ready to let the ocean take away yet. By the time she was at the door, the water was covering her ankles. She took one last look at the house. It was so hard to build that one, but it was a great home for her last few weeks of pregnancy. The last house where she would live alone. In the next one, she would have company. She left the house and looked at the ocean, and that was one of the things she loved the most about living there.
The night was bright, with the full moon graciously hanging in the sky, and a few heavy clouds were making it company. Even though it was the middle of the night there was a lot of movement around, some have woken up and were alerting the others to leave and search for shelter. There was no rush, some kids were excited to participate in the ritual, some were still asleep, and Heg couldn’t help but think that soon enough she would be one of those people either carrying their sleepy kids or trying to contain their excitement.
She was still lost in those thoughts when another wave of pain hit her, and right after a hand touched her shoulder.
-Is it time, my dear? - Jan asked, standing right behind her.
Heg simply moved her hand up and down. Jan was an old lady, curved from delivering so many babies over the years. She was kind and had been preparing Heg for the birth.
- Where do you want to go? - Jan always gave the mother a choice.
- The ocean. - Answered Heg. She has always wanted to follow tradition, everyone in her family was born in the ocean, she felt so connected to Thorn Beach, and believed that her birth had an impact on that. She wanted her baby to have that too.
Jan took Heg’s bag with her few objects and gave it to another family so they could take care of it while they were on the sea, a light rain started to fall and they walked together until the water was covering a bit more than Heg’s ankles. Jan knew the water would keep coming and they needed to stay closer to the shore.
As time went by the pain intensified and the light rain grew heavier. It never became a storm but it was pouring. Jan helped Heg every step of the way, giving support and strength when needed. After a few hours, they greeted a little girl, who screamed and cried while washed by the salty water of the sea and the sweet water from the sky. It was a beautiful thing to see, a baby coming into this world surrounded by the element of life.
After the birth, Jan called for some extra help so they could take Heg and her baby to a place so they could rest. They found shelter in the dry house, the only construction made out of brick in Thorn Beach, it had showers supplied with water by the river nearby, it stored medicine and had beds to take care of the sick, it also had a space to store food and other supplies that were shared in the community. Jan prepared a bed for Heg, and a small crib for her baby, they were washed and cleaned, and finally, they could rest. Heg was enchanted by her little girl. She had brown hair, light brown skin and it was not possible to distinguish her eye color yet, but Heg was hoping for the dark brown eyes of her family.
They slept for 1 or 2 hours but soon enough the baby was hungry and needed to be fed. Jan stayed all night long to help with nursing.
- Does she have a name yet? - Jan asked at some point.
- No… I thought I would know once I saw her, but… I am not sure yet. - Answered Heg.
- It’s fine, you’ll have time. - Jan reassured her.
A week later, Heg’s baby still didn’t have a name. But they did have a new house that all her neighbors helped to build while she was at the dry house. They had a welcome party and everything. Now it was only Heg and her daughter most of the time, but Jan would drop by every now and then to check in. Today was one of those chek-in days. Heg was preparing some tea while Jan played with the baby.
-I was meaning to give you some news. - Said Jan, cautious. - I hope you forgive me for waiting this long, but after everything, I thought you deserved a break.
Heg served the tea, and they sat at the sand table.
-What happened? Is this about…him? - Heg asked, she couldn’t contain her despise.
- Yes. As you may know, they were living on the far east of Thorn Beach, and there there was a storm. The tides went up quicker… He died trying to get them out. And so did the boy.
Heg swallowed hard, she felt sick.
-And the woman? - Heg asked, she didn’t know what to feel. Not because there were no feelings inside her, but because there were too many.
-Mire is alive but still recovering. Her family came from the Written Forest, they want to take her back with them.
- I hope they do. - Heg said, coldly.
- I am only telling you because… She deserves to know. - Said Jan, pointing to the baby.
- You’re right. I am sorry about the boy. I am not sure I am ready to be sorry for them.
Jan looked at her tea, sadly. She couldn’t blame Heg for feeling that way. At some point, she had hoped they would get along for the sake of their kids, but this hope was now gone. There was only grief and resentment left.
They had the rest of the tea in silence. After Jan left, Heg was finally able to cry. She cried of anger because she still had a lot to say to him and now she couldn’t, and also because now he would never feel pain again, and she wanted him to have tasted more suffering, at least as much as he had made her feel. She cried because she felt bad for feeling all of that towards her daughter’s dad. She cried because she couldn’t imagine the pain of losing her baby. And she cried some more because the thought of “they deserved it” crossed her head and she felt guilty about it. She cried with relief for never having to see him again. She cried of frustration because he died trying to protect them while she was alone. She cried because she could still remember how good it was the time she spent with him, and how much she liked him, and also because he had destroyed what they had. She cried for everything and she cried for nothing.
Sometimes her baby would cry with her too and Heg wondered if she knew or if she was just hungry. Probably hungry. By the end of the day She had made a decision, she would name her daughter after her own mother. She was not sure why, maybe she really wanted her mother’s company in that moment, maybe because she didn’t want to give the name chosen with him, maybe because she didn’t want that her daughter to have anything from him except for the inevitable, or maybe it was just because the name was pretty. Heg wrapped her baby in her arms, rocked back and forth and finally whispered in her baby’s ear:
*Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction! To give birth at the sea is not recommended and can be risky to both mother and the baby!