Rain droplets, seemingly the size of marbles, whipped and lashed at Sydney's soil, one Wednesday night. Ancient gum trees swayed menacingly over brick veneer homes, their branches blown away and broken apart, flying several metres in the air before reaching their destination. Children, confined to their homes by anxious parents tapped, not to the pitter patter of rain, but to the thonk and thunk of the pelting downpour outside.
Stray cats, exposed to the elements, were acting the part of a mental patient, frantically searching in every direction, possibly for some silver lining in the clouds and hysterically purring at the sounds of gnarling thunder or the periodic and vivid white strips of light that branded the night sky.
Meanwhile, the great city of Sydney, usually blessed with vibrant lights at this time of night that had made many a tourist exclaim that it was the "night-time rainbow of Australia" was engulfed in pure darkness. On almost every street, neighbours recklessly rushed to each-others houses with their lit candles to re-assure themselves of their mates' safety.
However on 43 Kurrajong Road, on the outskirts of Sydney, the line of sight in all directions was subject to endless strips of fertile crops and pastures and within the house all appeared to be as calm as an isolated lake in the middle of the outback.
Inside the home, under the dim glow of candlelight was a woman with immaculately smooth skin and extensive blonde hair. Her skin had also seemed to have acquired a translucent quality and glow that only served to enhance her beauty. Despite wearing a marvellously gold and polished ring that gleamed as brightly as the Southern Cross on the fourth finger of her left hand, what would've drawn most attention to any bystander who looked upon her was her large bulging belly, heavy with life, being caressed gently by the woman's hands.
Scattered in the room she stood in were a number of goods, some of them still wrapped and strangled in cardboard packaging. A baby's cot, blue in colour and ornately decorated with numerous teddy bears hanging from its edges stood in one corner of the room, while a baby stroller stood on the opposite side. Above the stroller, enveloped in a wooden, yet rich Victorian style picture frame, lay the woman's university degree, she had received a year before.
With a tender smile she looked on serenely through her window at her lonely Paperbark tree on the front lawn, being beaten, stripped of bark and leaves, with its seeds spilling out of damaged cones amongst the raging winds and heavy rains that it was faced with. As the woman heard the piercing ghostly howls that usually accompany such forceful winds, she could swear that it must've been a screech of pain from the poor Paperbark tree.
The woman herself however was in no mood to screech at all. Inside her warm, snug and candle-lit home, she enjoyed the kicks and squirms that came from the growing life inside her, she enjoyed the memory of her husband from this morning as he embarked from home on a three-day business trip singing to and massaging her belly and she enjoyed the excitement shown by her parents about her arrival to a new world, which scores of friends and family had advised her over the past nine months contains many responsibilities, yet joys.
The woman turned from the window and as she waddled along to the kitchen to help herself to a supper of warm and creamy potato soup, she let out a squeal of pain. Her eyes widened and her eyebrows were raised in shock. Was it time? When she was all alone, with nowhere to go for help?
Again she screamed as she felt her lower belly agonizingly contract leaving her with a stabbing pain as excruciating as if a thousand spears had pounded her body there and then. Those contractions were a type of pain she had never felt before in her life, coming and going like a boomerang. Slowly, she struggled against the sheer throbbing within her stomach and staggered to her bed.
"Aaah!" yet again she let a high-pitch howl as she felt a small mass forcing its way out of her body. In a desperate attempt to relieve her pain, she slipped into the distant world of memory, remembering her enthusiastic conversation only a year ago with her husband on the prospects of having a child. She was so excited then...so naive then, did she really think it would be so easy? Many had told her that the hurtful ordeal she would go through on the last stretch would be worth it in the end, but as she felt the unbearable pain of another contraction, she really doubted it.
"Deep breaths" she told herself as she came out of her reverie, "We're nearly there, one more" and she screamed once more, so vociferously, she was certain the house must've shook. She writhed vigorously upon her bed, in a frantic last bid attempt to finish off her torment.....
Moments later she was in tears, tears of exhaustion and tears of joy and cradled in her arms under candlelight was a crying bundle of joy, her own child.
Months afterwards, as she played with her husband and child amongst the cool shade of her Paperbark tree, she noticed it too was flourishing, its leaves a brighter shade of green. It certainly had recovered from the immense damage it had suffered from the thunderstorm months before. Closely inspecting the earth below, she noticed a fresh seedling of a Paperbark tree, most likely having sprung from the seeds that had spilled from the cones after they had been split open by the storm.
The woman looked up and smiled contentedly as her own seedling crawled away clapping at passerby butterflies.