When Chains Fall Off

When Chains Fall Off

Despite the things he had witnessed, he observed through partially closed eyes. A small opening, the size of a pound coin, gradually increased in size, like a balloon being filled with air. The crown of a head became visible, then, his first born appeared as if sliding down a shoot. Open-mouthed but silent for a nanosecond until lungs kicked into action. Images of a new-born lamb then a chick flashed through his mind. The similarity between that first needy cry for mother—human and animal fascinated him. A cry of relief from his wife transformed into one of happiness as the midwife announced that it was a girl. Years being brought up on a farm witnessing the constant cycle of life and death–yet still, he felt dazed and confused as he lumbered to the top of the bed. Pushing his wife’s matted hair from her forehead, he planted a kiss of gratitude. ‘Well done, well done, you were amazing hen. I’m so proud of yae.’ Checks completed, baby and mother finally bonded skin to skin. The early morning sun peered through the window like a nosy mother in law desperate to get the first peek He slumped to the chair that he’d rarely moved from for the past eighteen hours, a tired smile of contentment. Like the smile that his face bore every night when he merged with his armchair, basking in the job satisfaction that working the land of their farm never failed to produce. ‘Away up the road wi yae Gordon, you’d think it was you that’d just had the bairn,’ his wife laughed. ‘Go and tend to the farm and I’ll tend to this wee cracker,’ she said, as her sleep deprived eyes drifted downwards at the new arrival cradled to her chest.’
‘Only if you’re sure wife, I’ll be back tonight though.’ He kissed them both, ‘Daddy will be back later my wee princess, be good for mummy,’ he whispered at his daughter who nuzzled on her mother’s nipple.
Hours later, sat in his armchair, his daily chores completed, a glass of ‘the water of life’ in his large agricultural hand, the ringing of the telephone destroyed the silence. Rising from his armchair, glass still in hand, he traipsed barefoot over the grey gingham carpet. Picking up the receiver, he listened intently, then, as if in slow motion, he released it from his grip. The telephone spiralled downwards like a bungee jumper. Disgust washed over him at his first thought. A selfish thought, which transformed into a plea, ‘Why today? Please God, no… her father…how do I explain.’ His train of thought was hijacked by a phrase dear to his own father, one which had been relayed to him with monotonous regularity throughout his childhood, ‘When chains fall off, new chains are forged.’ A guttural sound like a gekkering fox reverberated through the cottage as he dropped to his haunches.