There was a woman hiding in the woods. Bea knew it as surely as if she’d seen her, though the ghost kept carefully to the shadows. An abrupt crack of thunder sounded in the distance. The storm would be here within the hour, and Bea wondered if the woman would seek shelter or stay among the trees. The next rumble of thunder was drowned out by a scream and Beatrice took off running towards it.
The grass whipped her legs as she navigated the yard and entered the forest, breathless.
“Hello!” she yelled, “Where are you? Are you hurt?”
The scream came again and Bea followed the noise. Moments later she came upon the woman, who could not have been much older than twenty. She was fully pregnant and lying on the ground, holding the roundness of her middle and writhing in pain. Bea knelt down beside her immediately and touched the woman’s face.
“Can you stand? I will help you walk to the house.”
“No! No, I can’t,” the woman panted. “The baby, the baby is coming.”
“It’s not far and there’s a storm. You can’t have the baby here. Come on, let me help you up,” Bea dragged the woman to her feet and started leading her toward the dim glow coming through the trees. The woman did not protest again, but stopped every few feet to double over and scream again. Bea was impatient with her, but did not push any faster. The rain began as they reached the edge of the yard.
Once safely inside the house, Bea laid the woman down on a cot and went to work boiling water and collecting towels. She felt eyes on her and turned to see her twelve-year-old son, Morrison, staring at her from the doorway.