Rain slammed into his face. Driven by the near gale-force wind that blew in from Scandinavia. He stared out into the darkness. The North Sea below was whipped by the fierce wind, and whitecaps filled his field of view as waves crashed against the base of the cliffs. His fingers gripped the cold metal rail that he sat upon. His t-shirt and jeans were stuck to his skin, his tears washed away by the rain that soaked his face.
It was early winter, yet, he no longer felt the cold, as he stared straight ahead. Slowly, he lowered his gaze and focused on the cliff-edge, less than six feet away. He felt no fear, for the first time in nearly a year he felt sure of himself, he was ready.
He pulled himself slowly to his feet, he looked out to sea, he took a small step forward, towards the edge of the cliff. One more step, then another, a gust of wind rocked him back on his heels. He gathered himself again and he took another step forward, the wind seemed to intensify, and he felt as if something was pressed onto his chest. He couldn’t move.
He glanced down, nothing, he looked up again and tried to take another step, but the wind blew harder and the pressure on his chest increased. He raised his head to the dark clouds.
He screamed into the wind, which, seemed to increase, he was rocked back onto his heels. Once more he tried to move but his feet seemed to be stuck to the grass, the wind was now constant, he lifted his arms to the sky.
A massive gust of wind rocked him back, he stumbled and sat back down onto the rail, where he slumped, his head in his hands. Almost immediately the gale that had blown him back seemed to fade.
He had no idea how long he’d been sat there when he heard a noise behind him, he turned to see a police officer, about ten yards from him. She fought to keep her hat on her head as she moved slowly towards him. He looked behind her, he could see two patrol cars and an ambulance, parked on the road about a hundred yards away.
She slowly approached him, her fluorescent jacket glistened as rainwater fell from it, she yelled out to him.
“Are you alright sir?”
He stared back at her, she tried again.
“Sir! Is everything alright?”
His eyes fell to the ground. His body began to shake as he broke down.
‘No, everything is not alright Officer.’
Two years earlier...
“Get here now! She’s on her way!”
He slipped his mobile into his pocket and looked around his office.
“Shit! It’s happening! It’s happening!”
He left his office, and with the best wishes of his colleagues ringing in his ears, he got into his car and headed home.
Alan Charlton and his wife Susan had been together six years, married for three, and Susan was expecting their first child. Their daughter was four days overdue, yet, it seemed that it was time.
Alan owned a very successful computer software company, specialising in bespoke business security solutions. With a master’s in computer sciences and an excellent programmer, he’d started the company soon after leaving university. Susan worked as a PA to the director of a Publishing company in their home town of Durham.
He walked through the front door, she called out to him from the kitchen. He found her leant against the kitchen counter, he slipped behind her and gently rubbed her back whilst she talked to her doctor on the phone. Finished, she turned and wrapped her arms around his neck and leaned against him.
“What did the doctor say?”
“He told me to monitor the contractions, and when they get to five minutes apart, and for at least thirty seconds, then we go to the hospital. It looks like she’s on her way, Alan.”
He lifted her head and looked into her eyes, those big blue eyes could always brighten his day, melt his heart, or let him know that he’d messed up somehow, all it would take is one look. She was the best thing that had ever happened to him. They gazed at each other, then she lifted herself onto her tiptoes and kissed him, their bodies pressed together, he felt his daughter kick.
“She kicked me!”
Susan laughed, “Yeah, ‘because you can’t keep your hand off her Mum!”
He took her by the hand and led her to the sofa.
“Right, come on, let’s get you on the sofa.”
“Well, I’m in no condition, but if you want to.”
She smiled then laughed, and for a brief second, her pain lessened, but quickly returned with another contraction.
They lay together on the sofa until she eventually fell asleep. He held her as he watched her belly rise and fall with her breathing, interrupted by the occasional kick from their now impatient daughter, ’not long now.’
Two hours later, he helped her into their car, her hospital bag on the back seat and they were on their way to the hospital. As he drove out of the driveway he smiled,
“Let’s go and have us a baby!”
Everything happened quickly once they arrived at the hospital, she was booked in and taken through to the delivery suite, and, just over an hour later Alan was presented with scissors to cut the umbilical cord and their daughter was born, weighing in at six-pounds nine ounces. The perfect situation was interrupted by loud beeping from one of the machines, he glanced to his wife who had suddenly lay back, her eyes had rolled up into her head, all that he could see were the whites, she was unconscious. He was rushed out of the room as the medics went to work on her. Panicking, he paced up and down, before a nurse came out a few minutes later and told him that everything was under control, his wife had suffered a bleed, and her blood pressure had suddenly dropped. They had stopped the bleed and she was now awake.
He returned to her bed-side, she looked okay, as if nothing had happened, and the doctor explained the cause of the bleed to them, and, that it was sorted. However, because of that incident, they wanted to keep her in for a night, for observation. She didn’t want to stay but they both heeded the doctor’s advice. They would have to wait a little longer to take their daughter home.
The nurse returned their daughter and as Susan held her the nurse took some photographs of mum and daughter and the three of them as a family. He finally got to hold her, nervously he took her in his arms, her little face all screwed up, a mop of black hair, which the nurse said that would change colour in time. He softly kissed her forehead as she reached out from under her blanket and her tiny fingers tried to wrap around his finger, he had never felt such love for anyone before, he felt an instant bond with her as he felt her fingers wrap around his little finger.
The doctor returned and confirmed that all was well, he told them that their daughter had a birth-mark on her right calf. He opened her tiny baby-grow to show them a small red mark on her right calf, Susan smiled,
“It looks like a butterfly’s wing Alan”
Alan nodded, “Yeah honey, it does.”
When the new grandparents arrived, they were taken, in turn, to meet their new granddaughter. They’d decided to name her Alice, after Susan’s mother, and Emily his mother. Both grandmothers were surprised and delighted.
“Alice Emily Charlton”
They smiled at each other, it sounded so right.
He stayed as long as he could, but eventually, it was time for him to go, Susan was exhausted she was almost asleep when he kissed her goodnight, he kissed his daughter before he left, ‘I’ll see you in the morning Alice’