In a Single Moment




It was the heat. It bore down on her, forcing its way into her already burgeoning body. Sweat trickled from her hairline and across her face. She could feel it pooling in the hollows at her collarbones.
She longed to fill her lungs with cool, crisp air but there was only the stale sort that felt as if it had already been breathed in and out a hundred times. She tried to visualise a mountainside, fresh green grass sparkling with dew, a crystal-clear brook babbling its way down to a deep lake where the water was so icy cold it would take your breath away.
But then the image was snatched away from her, and the oppressive, heavy atmosphere filled her nostrils again. She could smell the sharp tang of antiseptic and beneath that hot bodies, no doubt washed less frequently than usual due to the effort of collecting water from the emergency standpipes along the street.
And then another wave crashed over her, and all thoughts were washed away as she focused entirely on the pain of the contraction. ‘That’s it, Michelle,’ she heard the midwife say. The voice sounded distant, as if the woman was speaking to her from another room. ‘Try to keep your breathing nice and steady. It won’t be long now.’
Michelle wanted to scream at her that she was doing her best but this was as steady as she could manage. It was her fourth baby and she’d got the measure of her labours, so she knew the midwife was right. It would be over soon, but the awful, overwhelming heat was shifting all the goalposts. She really wasn’t sure she had the strength to keep going. One minute she felt as insubstantial and limp as a damp rag and the next a rigid poker of pain seared through her, making every muscle in her body as solid as steel. The rhythm of it was relentless.
The pain subsided again, and Michelle felt her aching muscles sag. Dean would be in the pub now, celebrating the birth of his child before he even knew it had happened. She pictured him, pint in hand, laughing with his mates without a care in the world whilst she . . .
The thought of the pub made her realise just how thirsty she was. Her tongue was sticking to the roof of her mouth and her lips felt as if they might crack if she smiled, not that there was any danger of that.
‘Water,’ she croaked.
It came out more dramatically than she’d intended, like some- thing from Lawrence of Arabia. The midwife passed her a half-filled tumbler and Michelle craned her head up and took a gulp. The water was tepid and unsatisfying but it would have to do.
And then the pains were at her again and this time she knew it was nearly all over. She gritted her teeth and pressed on.
Michelle and Dean had first got together at school where neither of them had been convinced about the importance of a solid education. They had married in haste to avoid scandal, Michelle’s bouquet hiding what it could, and Carl had come along four months later. After that Tina and Damien had followed in quick succession and then there had been a merciful hiatus before Michelle unexpectedly found herself once again pregnant at twenty-five.
She had been horrified at first. What would they do with another child? Where would it sleep, for a start? The house was already rammed full. And then there were food, clothes, all the other stuff kids needed. Dean brought in a decent wage from the garage, but without what she earned at the engineering works she knew they’d struggle to make ends meet. But how could she hold down a job and bring up four kids? It was impossible.
But as the baby began to grow inside her, Michelle had known that they would muddle through somehow. Even though they might never have got married but for the accidental first child, she and Dean made a strong team. He wouldn’t let her down. And he hadn’t. When she’d told him that five were soon to become six, the fear on his face had been fleeting, and swiftly replaced by a not-unconvincing grin.
‘Well, there you go,’ he’d said, with a lascivious raise of an eyebrow. ‘There’s plenty of lead left in my pencil!’
She’d swung her handbag at him, bashing him gently on the side of his head and he’d swept her off her feet and squeezed her tightly. She’d known then that she truly loved him and always would.
But right now, she could cheerfully saw off his head with a plastic knife and feed it to the seagulls on the Brayford. And why was it so hot? Did they not have fans in these places? How could she possibly be expected to give birth when she couldn’t actually breathe? The window was open but its pale green curtain dangled limply with no hint of a breeze to move it. The air felt stifling, cloying, sticky on her already sticky skin. She needed to get this baby out just so that she could have a shower. They had water in hospitals, she assumed. No standpipes here.
And then the pain changed again and the primal need to push overtook her.


If you enjoyed this sample then you can preorder In a Single Moment HERE.

Image shows a book in paperback, kindle and mobile.



This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Text copyright © 2023 by Blue Lizard Books Ltd All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.
Published by Lake Union Publishing, Seattle
Amazon, the Amazon logo, and Lake Union Publishing are trademarks of, Inc., or its affiliates.
ISBN-13: 9781542034562 eISBN: 9781542034579
Cover design by The Brewster Project
Cover images: ©Quang Vinh Tran / Shutterstock; ©wilkastok / Shutterstock
Printed in the United States of America