The dark creeped in around Layne Hershel as she held tightly to her gelding’s reins. He knew the road as well as she did, still… it gave her no peace of mind on this trip. More than the dark was making her apprehensive, and the grip of tension in her throat kept her urging the horse forward.
She had been born on this very road twenty-eight years ago this past autumn. Yes, right on the side of the road, near the beech tree that had split due to being struck by lightening that previous spring. That same summer had carried flooded crops downstream and would leave the town nearly starving that winter. Still, they hadn’t starved, and her birth had been seen as a thing of heaven – a gift as it were, born under the blooming moon, shining bright on someone that would be the first to touch a generation of villagers from birth to death for the next 67 years.
But of course she didn’t really know any of this. All she knew was that she was odd, even if in a good way, and she knew that everyone else knew it too.
Tonight though, she was not thinking of any of this. As she galloped past the beech tree she sent a silent prayer upward that the birth would be uncomplicated and fast. She had already attended two births this week and she was bone tired.
The husband had come for her, beating incessantly on her door until she had rolled from the bed and opened it all in one smooth motion. He had said hurry. And he had said it in a way that made the hair on the back of her head stand out. No first-time mother, Kallie Engle had given birth to five healthy boys in the span of 11 years, and had generally done so with the fervor of all good Irish Catholics. Hard, fast and without any regrets. There was definitely something up by the look on her husband’s face, and that she had not caught up with him yet even though she was riding Sully as fast as she dared, was confirmation enough.