an excerpt from the not-quite-finished novel

To bear down. To bear. Bare. The fire was hot and I was bare and slick and I hoped the end was finally near. No Sister, no Rebecka – why hadn’t I gone for Rebecka?
Because this burden, this baby, this birth was mine. The old gods were with me, the goddesses, the spirits of these woods, the souls of all of the Ladies before Sister. My mother, her mother, back and back, to the flood, they were there, too. All of them crowding the cottage, their energy crackling in the air.
My body was splitting open like a seed pod, like a hen’s egg. My pelvis was opening like a gate stiff with disuse. My chanting had risen to a cry, a shout, a call not for mercy but for strength. The only way out was through. The only choice was no choice at all. No matter what I did or did not do, she was coming.
With every push I grew stronger, more fierce, more determined. With every push my daughter came closer, my new life approached. My body shook. The world shook. It was too much. It was perfect. It was impossible. I was a beast. The fire as her head stretched my delicate tissue tighter than I could have imagined. I forgot Sister’s words. I forgot how many women she, and then I, had coached to slow at this point, to ease the baby out, to be gentle on their own bodies, to take their time. I forgot it all. My body had been laboring for over a day, and I couldn’t wait any more, couldn’t conceive of waiting any more. I pushed. I urged. I roared. I roared through the flames and through the darkness and I conquered all of the gods in the room and I stood on the shoulders of every feminine divinity and I gave birth to my daughter.
She slipped like a squid into my hands, gasped a breath, and squalled.
Selene. Goddess of the moon. Ruler of tides, of waves, of water, of women.
Selene, my love. Hello.

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