by Sue Dawes
She boarded the train at dusk, using darkness as her cloak. The carriage, with its sawdust-spattered floor and thick smell of cattle, was warmer than the streets. She was already in labour, and under her black gown, her overstretched stomach was as tight as a corset.
She sank down onto the wooden floor, moaning in time to the screech of steam, and gulping breaths, thick with coal-dust. Her contractions came, faster and faster, faster and faster.
The baby crowned before Tuesday turned into Wednesday with a scream that cut through the dense air. It was a good day to be born. No one wants their child full of woe.
Gripping the small, silver fish knife, which she’d stolen from the big house, she lifted her skirts. She needed to cut the cord.
She heard a gnawing sound as she raised the final petticoat, like a rat chewing a cable. The placenta was already ripped in two, her baby blood-soaked, covered with an oily film. It was a boy. It was not what she’d hoped for, she didn’t want to be reminded of the master but this child would have an easier life than the girl she had named in her dreams.
As she bent towards him, she saw the baby was eating something, his jaw grinding. That’s when she fainted, hitting her head hard on the carriage floor.
He was consuming his twin sister.
Tuesday’s child was full of Grace.