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- It is not the heat, the doctor in the camp told Jean several days later. Sometimes, something goes wrong and the baby is not meant to be born. That is all.
Some mothers say they feel the exact moment the child stops living. Some sense something wrong, or dream of death without knowing why; others notice only later, when the movement stops - although even this is only a feeling, for when the baby is this large, it no longer has any room anyway to move in the womb.
There is no safe way to induce the birth. It is best to let the body make its own decision, though this is a danger if labour waits too long. You may have to carry the still-baby for some weeks, perhaps even as long as a month.
Avery put his hand on her taut skin where he had felt movement for so many weeks and now felt nothing.
- Sometimes, the doctor said, it is simply not meant to be.
Avery could not help himself thinking: All the water inside her and our dead child.
- It is time to go to Cairo, the doctor said.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The young Nubian woman who had offered to bless the child in the Nile dipped palm leaves in river water and wrapped the cool greenness over Jean's distended belly. The leaves drew the heat from her skin. Again and again the woman did this for her, until Jean fell asleep.
No need of a translator between the two women now.
For months after birth, a child remains in the mother's body; moon and tide. Before the child cries, the mother flashes wet with milk. Before the child wakes and cries in the night, the mother wakes. Deep in the child's cranial vault, the mother's gaze knits up the dangling synapses.
And when the child is spirit, it is exactly the same.