The child let out a small cough, his eyelids fluttering open to reveal his bright blue irises. The woman looked down into the wide eyes of the newborn boy and let a smile grace her lips. There was such purity in that gaze, such innocence that shone from those eyes as he lay there, gazing upwards, completely oblivious to the turmoil that had brought him into existence...
The night was late, they warned her not to walk home after the party but it was just too nice to call a taxi. The clear black sky, the thousands of silver pinpricks, she was too busy admiring the beauty of nature to realise that she was being followed.
The boy flailed his limbs, as if testing out his new body. The woman chuckled, reaching a hand out to gently tickle his stomach.
The faint tapping of footsteps, the soft rustling of clothing, and that was all the warning she had before something slammed into the back of her skull, exploding a mass of multicoloured spots across her vision. Half conscious she collapsed to the ground, pain racking through her head. And that's when it began.
The corners of his mouth quirked upwards in a weak laugh, the woman stopped tickling him with a sigh.
Seconds? Minutes? Hours? She was never able to remember how long it had been, and she will never be able to forget the searing agony tearing through her body, the sensation of being torn apart from the inside out. Rip, stab, thrust, it went on and on and on...
The boy felt a soft kiss pressed to his right cheek. He was not yet old enough to know exactly what it meant, but even now it projected kindness, comfort, and caring.
She woke up in hospital. Concussion, skin abrasions, not to mention internal damage. She lay there for days, too doped up on pain medication to think straight; it wasn't until after her release that the nightmares began.
The woman straightened, a wistful look on her face. She reached down and gently brushed a stray lock of wispy hair from the boy's forehead.
The pain, the terror, the helplessness, she relived it night after night. And every morning she would wake screaming, begging, and utterly violated. It wasn't for months that she realised that the nausea, the tiredness wasn't just from the trauma.
Suddenly the baby's mouth turned downwards, his face scrunching up as a few tears leaked from his eyes, but the woman was quick in picking him up, rocking and shushing him back into complacency.
"Abort it," they insisted, "every time you look at him he'll remind you of what happened," they told her, "you'll hate him, you can't have the baby." But she couldn't do it. He was as much a victim as she was, the innocent party in all the horror. She just couldn't do it.
She held the child she never expected to have in her arms, looking down into the clear blue eyes which reminded her not of fear and pain, but of love. And she knew in her heart that she made the right decision.
For so many months she had been consumed by grief, fear, self-pity, for so long she had thought her life was over.
Her son gave a yawn and blinked sleepily. His mother leant over, laying him down and stretching out beside him.
But even as one life ended...
She closed her eyes, pulling the boy up against to her chest and inhaling deeply, committing his scent to memory.
Another had just begun.
For the first time in nine months she didn't dream.