Quasi-Indefatigable Xenolith



Mullicynda Witnesses A Birthing

It is difficult for me to find words to describe that sensation when one feels that they are being carried by events. I have always equated this with somehow being in the hand of God and that He is placing your feet, moving your hands, speaking with your voice, and basically steering the course of things that are too important to be left to chance or the limited capacity of mere people to understand or do properly. This night is such a circumstance for Mulls and I cannot emphasize enough to myself or to you dear readers that these sorts of occurrences should never be ignored or forgotten.

Perhaps those silly girlish diaries have a bit of use to them after all.

In answer to her raised neck-hairs and bits of inspiration, Mullicynda rushed back to her Convocation school dorms back on the isle of Firsthome and found her most mature-looking dress. Knowing the propensity of people not to question when things just work out well and to praise their own genius when it happens, Mulls had no compunctions about altering the conditions Canary had put on the evening. She would take the elixir to Princess Yvette as instructed, but instead of doing it in the guise of a commoner, she would attend the birth in as Matronly an appearance as she could muster. Properly attired and with her hair pulled up in a most serious bun, she looked at herself in a mirror as she rushed out. She knew she appeared as a much more imposing figure than the silly yellow-dressed Matron she would stand in for, which would ultimately be to her advantage. None of the girls that she flew past in the dormitory commons gave it a second thought, as it looked as if one of the school's higher Matrons was off to attend some pressing council gathering, instead of the ethereal Mullicynda off to have a meeting with something akin to destiny.

The house of Yvette was not too far, but the electricity of the night impelled Mulls to move quickly anyway. Her heels were blessedly sensible and she seemed much more familiar with them than Canary, and her cloak was properly done up against the storm which was rolling in from the sea and beginning to sprinkle upon everything.

She had thrown on a tasteful brooch at her bosom that would hopefully speak of some rank and it all seemed to work properly as Mulls breezed through the portico of the house of the Princess of Fish. She moved and gestured and gave the aura of a highly placed Matron and everyone about the house simply reacted as if it were so. "Your Matron could not attend the birth, so I have come to attend it myself." The servants bowed to her obvious rank and showed her immediately into the birthing suite.

Mulls had never been in such a place before, or even in the house of a Lady as of yet. The home was finely appointed, as befitted a young Lady with a number of pageant wins under her belt. Of course, each Lady's house had a birthing suite, for each Lady seemed to keep herself in a perpetual state of pregnancy, what with the obvious service of consorts and the method of scoring that judges used in the contests in which all Ladies vied. There was nothing better to guarantee a pageant victory than a pregnancy in its advanced stages.

Mulls swept into the birthing suite with a determined gait and a severe face. This was certainly not her normal approach to things, but she had observed enough commanding Matrons to make a good show of it. All activity stopped and all eyes were on her, which was frankly terrifying for a fifteen-year-old girl, but she seemed to be pulling off a determined woman who was five or so years older just fine. She looked down her nose at the assemblage of lowly dames and midwifes and gave a gesture and a word "Continue."

Poor Princess Yvette was already moaning miserably, stripped practically naked and strapped tightly to various metal protrusions from a hard and heavy inclined table. Mulls' first impression was that this was all done for the purpose of splitting the poor woman practically down the middle and making the birth easier for the midwife, who was quietly moving about and attending to Yvette's birth canal. The apparently high Matron Mullicynda had been duly acknowledged by all in the room with deference, except for Yvette, who was so deep in the throws of her last stages of labor that she wouldn't have noticed if God himself had appeared.

Now, as this is Mulls first time in such a situation, she has no frame of reference for comparison in circumstances of childbirth. The best she can see is that it looks quite painful and imminently unpleasant. I, on the other hand, have seen the births of all my children, which are not a few, and I can report that there is something almost inhuman about the procedure that is laid out here before us. If I can, I will offer up my own crude comparison.

As I have said, I have witnessed several births. In our culture, we spend a good deal of time being thoughtful to a mother's pains and seeing to her comfort, perhaps with even more concern than with the poor child who is also having a very traumatic experience. It may be because we foresee the difficulties ahead for the mother as she loses herself, it is hoped, in the care and nurture of this child. We want to respect and honor her for both the present and coming sacrifice she makes for the good of humanity and society. Perhaps, we are simply selfish and want to avoid feeling or seeing pain or undue discomfort. We should make the new mother feel as comfortable now as we can muster, for she will have little of such things over the coming years of the roller-coaster ride of motherhood. We bring her pillows and ice and provide pain relief as best as can be contrived. Selfishly or not, we care greatly about how the mother feels at such times.

The most recent birth I witnessed was quite a different event. It was a surgery rather than a birth. The cesarean section procedure is anything but considerate of the mother, in this case, my wife. It was my first time in an operating room where I was not the one being anesthetized and operated upon. It was gruesome, as all such things of nature must be. But, what was more striking was the fact that, once my wonderful wife was put under anesthesia, she was frankly forgotten. While there was a bank of monitors that beeped and clicked her condition, only one bored technician was charged with attending the continued life of my wife. A curtain separated her head and upper torso from the well-lit belly, where all the interest and action was taking place. For nearly everyone in the room, the extraction of our last child was the most important thing. I was permitted to move back and forth from the darkened and forgotten corner of the room where the somewhat recognizable face and barely moving bosom of my wife lay and the split-open belly, awash with light and the buzz of medical professionals, working over the ghoulish sight of a purple creature practically exploding out like some horror movie. I was assured that everything went according to some textbook and that the baby was fine. I was much more concerned about reassuring myself that they would at some point pull off the curtain and realize that my wife, who had already gone through so much for our family and who would do even more in the future, was present and that I wanted her to live and find happiness as well. This eventually happened, but it was still disconcerting to see the terrible shade of yellow my wife was in for weeks afterward as everyone cooed over our twins and seemed nonplussed by what I considered to be my wife's near-death experience. No one really seemed to care about how my wife felt, and I, as a young father, had no idea what I was supposed to do except worry for her.

As I look upon this scene in Princess Yvette's birthing suite, I am much more reminded of a very primitive form of surgery than birth. Here in this Convocation birthing chamber, conveniently placed in the most prominent part of the house, this recent beauty pageant winner must be reminded again and again that she is basically just a vessel and that her authentic purpose in life is to create more people, specifically Ladies, to feed the needs of the Convocation. There is no more graphic portrayal of this fact than the view Mullicynda now has of the thrashing and moaning pain of Yvette that is being completely ignored by the midwife and her attendants. Although Mulls has no frame of reference, as I do by having seen a kindly birth in a pleasant birthing room, even the uninitiated must understand the inherent cruelty of the wails of torment as the beauty queen is attached to her torture table in a cold and lifeless room. The Matronly girl was hard pressed to keep from vomiting.

I won't go into the particulars of the birth itself, as the midwife and her attendants seem to know exactly what they're about. It is interesting to note here that there is no talking in the room, nor indeed should such a thing be expected. For the Convocation, birthing is a procedure that is actually steeped in much secrecy and the dames involved are carefully chosen for their discreetness. How a woman like the Canary has become involved in a managerial way with such a group is frankly beyond my comprehension, but one must trust the Convocation on such matters over which it exercises great pains. This situation was something that Mullicynda was never really meant to see from this vantage and which will ultimately do much in changing the course of her life.

The baby's head is beginning to crown and the attendants have taken their places around the room and begun to chant upon the virtues of health and beauty, leaving the midwife alone to do the unspeakable things that her training demands. If again you will indulge my interesting need to tell you things you would likely never discover otherwise, I will reveal that this whole rising volume of chanting is really designed for the purpose of getting the attendants out of the way and, more importantly, out of sight and hearing of what they are not permitted to know. Sometimes, mysticism is far more practical than one would imagine. The point you need to see here is that Mullicynda, perhaps in her ignorance, is not putting herself in a position to miss what is happening like the rest, for a Matron over a midwifery household is entitled to witness such things. If anything, her morbid yet insatiable curiosity is edging her closer for a better look.

My wife and I have had many heated discussions about how exactly to portray the gruesome scene of the final stages of a Convocation birthing to you fine readers. I want this depiction to be as graphic as possible to impress upon your mind that these women of the Alaed, who may seem nice and even whimsical at times, are actually far less than kindly in these situations. My wife, with her many pregnancies, wants to see that the experience is realistic and yet not "over-the-top", so the legions of female readers will not accuse me of being clueless on the matter. We never have reached any sort of consensus so I have chosen to instead escape to something of a "radio" experience rather than battle further on the subject.

I agree with the people who say that radio is much better than television. I find that the picture I manufacture in my head is so much more vivid and engaging than anything that can be projected on a screen. Therefore, I will simply tell you that this birthing is both realistic and grotesque at the same time and allow you wonderful readers the opportunity to create the imagery for yourself. Not only will this save me mounds of time, it may also do much to save my marriage. I thank you for your indulgence on this point.

Once it is seen that the precious baby is whole and breathing, it is bundled up quite tightly in a blanket and handed off to Mulls, who is obviously the Matron in charge here. The attending midwife is anxiously hanging about the Matronly girl, as if expecting something from her and Mullicynda finally guesses that the Canary's vial is wanted, which is duly produced. In moves that strangely mimic the actions of the red-dressed woman in the warehouse, the midwife perfunctorily pulls open the gibbering mother's mouth and pours the contents of the vial down the wretched Princess's throat, the only bit of attention the poor thing should expect to get in this whole procedure. Then, appropriately ignorant of the bound victim once again, the midwife focuses her attention on the real concern here, which is the tending of the stretched and torn perineum.

The attendants have stopped their chanting and are back about duties, scrubbing the chamber and fetching rags and hot water in a large bowl for the midwife. The woman strapped into the table begins contorting wildly and screaming as the midwife scrubs away at the wound with a primitive antiseptic, none-too-gently. The mid-wife seems to take the reaction of the Princess in stride, as if all the pain is just part of the aftermath of childbirth, but it is affecting Mulls quite strongly. The impulse to stop the midwife somehow and comfort the poor wretch on the torture table washes over the girl, but she is kept back by her need to act in a role and not reveal her deception. This certainly does not help her dispel the growing sense that she was now a participant in something quite wicked. The mid-wife is now working quickly with needle and thread to bind the split ends of the perineum back together, but not in the interest of reducing the pain and torture inflicted on the possessor of the birth canal.

With the job of extracting the blessed child done, there was apparently more mess than anticipated and attendants were signaled to come clean afterbirth and such from the floor. While one would have thought this would have given the new mother a bit of a welcome reprieve, she seemed to be shaking uncontrollably now, so much so that she could no longer scream out her anguish. The others in the room steadfastly went about their work of ignoring the woman in travail, except for Mulls, whose eyes were wide in the horror she was witnessing. There were two massive flinches from the woman on the table, but the strong straps held her firm and she suddenly went limp. The problems that the attendants were dealing with were handled with accustomed proficiency without any notice that the beauty contest winner was quite obviously dead. Only Mullicynda seemed aware of this and only Mullicynda seemed to be appalled about it.

The bundle in the girl's arms began to move about and there was the muffled sound of cries. In her shock, Mullicynda snapped back to her place and everyone else, instead of noticing the corpse on the table, were giving her curious looks, wondering why the Matron was still here. In a twisted thankfulness, she tried to compose herself and left the room as quickly as possible. Supposedly, at some point in the work of the birthing suite, it would be found that the mother had expired and the attendants would calmly go about their work of disposing of the now worthless husk of the former Princess Yvette.

It was raining outside and Mulls was stumbling about in much the same way the Canary had earlier, now in some realization of that woman's grizzly occupation. The raindrops were cool on her feverish face, but it did nothing for her sharply beating heart and shaking limbs, which were loosening the blanket that held the new-born girl that would someday join the next generation of baby-manufacturing Ladies. She only managed to find a corner somewhat out of the rain, crouch down, and sob over what she had just witnessed. The baby was exposed now and had begun to whimper and her natural reaction was to pull the baby close into her bosom. They both cried, for their separate reasons, for a few moments, realizing the strange new world both had just entered. The baby was obviously on about life outside the womb, but Mullicynda wept for the growing realization that the world of the Convocation that she had thought was so kindly if a bit superficial had finally revealed a bit of its inherent darkness.

The girl also cried at the fact that she had been drawn into it, if even just by what anyone besides myself could have called a twist of fate. You readers know that I see it as the quiet hand of God steering events toward this terrible realization. It was she that had unwittingly provided the blue-ribboned vial and dealt the fatal blow to the Convocation's creature Yvette, that along with her sister-Ladies, only really existed to produce an endless supply of new material for the Convocation's insatiable appetite. It was making Mulls sick and angry at the same time, for if events proceeded as they were meant, she would soon enter Yvette's world and at some point face the same fate.

The rain kept reaching her coldly on the skin where she was exposed, but there was a rush of warmth where the baby was pressed to her. Added to the other emotions she was dealing with was a more practical one: she had just been urinated upon. Reflexively, she pulled the child away and the last and most startling realization hit her like the last and heaviest brick of a pile that has fallen upon her. In spite of all the Convocation had taught her about Ladies and their exclusive birthing of noble daughters, this baby was a boy.

So, I hope you notice that, as I originally predicted, the arrival of a baby has just changed nearly everything for Mullicynda.

Next Chapter...

Copyright, Jason Nemrow. All rights reserved.