The water poured down in white streaks. Hail rattled on the tent hide. White light flashed round us where we sat, still damp and breathless from running for shelter. Thunder tore the sky apart like a tree trunk splitting when it falls, then like rocks tumbling over a precipice and rolling round below.
Esti lifted the tent flap a little way. The dogs were huddled against the threshold, ears flat and noses hidden. A double flash lit the camp – huge brown puddles – streaming water – tents bowed to the rain – then within a heartbeat the thunder crashed above our heads. Esti let go the hide, too scared to scream, and stumbled towards the hearth.
“Baby, it’s all right. Come -”
Amets cut across Alaea, “My daughter’s not scared of a little storm – don’t be a fool, Alaea! Are you there, Esti? You’re not scared!”
“No!” That was the only word Esti had so far, but it served her for everything she wanted to say to us. She set her mouth, and, without glancing at her mother, climbed on to her father’s lap, where she sat sucking her thumb.
Thunder rolled around the sky with never a space between. The rain was like a waterfall. The water spread across the floor: our drainage ditches had overflowed. Water was coming through the bracken where we sat. Our furs were getting wet. I felt cold and strange. Something fluttered in my belly. Only when the fluttering began to hurt did I realise that the baby inside me had been woken by the storm, and wanted to come out. I had no voice to tell anyone. I sat still for as long as I could while the brown water swirled across the floor around our hearth.