I sat with my back to the girl in labour. Of course, at my age, anyone younger than twenty harvests is considered to be a girl. I could hear her screams, her panting. I could hear the midwife reassuring her, telling her to push. I could hear the girl cursing and swearing, threatening to bring down the wrath of Light onto the absent father of the child she was pushing into existence. The pain of labour always brings out the best humour – and language – in a woman.
In Tunnel City, the greatest respect you could show any other person was to turn your back on them, giving them some privacy. Aside from the midwife and myself, the labouring girl had an entire platform to herself. Anyone with an urgent need to pass, did so with their eyes carefully averted. The hope we all felt for this mother was reflected in the eyes of anyone who happened to meet my gaze as they scurried past. Continue reading “Tunnel City”