“A Thread of Secrets” The Prologue

From where she sat on the wooden bench under a hawthorn tree, Grace tried to gather her restless thoughts, observing her garden. A gentle breeze caressed her dark, slightly grey hair. She was forty‑seven years old but thought the many wrinkles on her face and her pale complexion made her look older. A dreadful nightmare had awoken her early, so she just sat there for a while, watching the birds eating from the birdfeeders until she felt her heart rate return to normal. Presently, she found herself able to think about the nightmare, to recall it moment by moment.She was back in India, where she had lived in the 1940s. It was the day Grace gave birth to her child at the house she had been brought to by force. Her beloved maid, Zia, was in the house and was standing next to her. There was dead silence in the room. Grace lay motionless in bed, breathing weakly. In Zia’s arms there was a newly born child, who wasn’t making a sound. A small bird flew in through the open window. The bird’s beak opened, but it didn’t make a sound either. Grace bit her lips and was still clutching the white sheets, which were drenched in blood. Then she noticed that Zia was trembling in fear. As Grace stared at her, everything became blurred. She could barely make her out as Zia began to hide the baby in what looked like a large, thick blanket, whispering something in her own Hindu language.Then Grace was outside, beneath a glowing red sky. She was wearing a white robe, her hair loose, and in her arms was the baby, her baby. Red flames enveloped her from head to toe. Though she wanted more than anything to look at her child, her body didn’t obey her wish. And when eventually she did look, all she saw were her empty hands. The child was gone. She emitted a scream, which echoed into the void. The nightmare ended.Grace’s throat still ached from the scream long after she had woken up. A fire was burning in her chest. Her soul hadn’t found peace. The tears came, streaming down her face. Sitting up in bed, she had looked down at her hands as though they might contain an answer as to why the awful nightmare had affected her so badly this time. It had often come, haunting her with its painful unanswered questions, but there was something different this time. What was it?The baby. For the first time, the baby had not lain still in Zia’s arms. It had moved. With that realisation came the question. Might it be possible that on that terrible night so many years ago, her child hadn’t died after all?

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