We are eating ice cream when my contractions start. I set my spoon down in my bowl and stare at Silas.

"Is he kicking?" he asks me.

"I think he's going to be born soon," I reply. "I felt a contraction."

Silas springs from his chair. "I'll call Marion."

"Not yet," I say. "We need to wait until the contractions are closer together. It could take hours."

"I'll call to let her know we'll need her later," he says. "She should know to expect a call."

"You're going to call her to tell her that you're going to call her?" I tease.

He walks anxiously out of the kitchen to get his phone. I smile and eat another spoonful of ice cream.

Silas returns with his phone to his ear. "How far apart are your contractions?" he questions me.

"I don't know," I answer. "I haven't had another one yet."

Silas repeats what I just said into the phone. He listens for a moment.

"I'm going to take a shower," I announce.

"We have to time your contractions," he protests as I stand up.

He follows me out of the kitchen. "Okay, I'll call you when they are ten minutes apart."

"Mila," he calls after me as I walk into the bathroom.

"We'll time them after my shower," I toss out carelessly without stopping what I'm doing.

The towel I used this morning is hanging over the shower curtain rod. It's only been a few hours, but I want to take another shower.

"What are you doing?" I ask as he closes the door after entering the bathroom.

"I'm staying in here to make sure you're okay," Silas replies.

"Okay," I agree and remove my clothes.

He places his hand on my belly. "We'll see you soon baby boy."

I smile, but I don't feel like I don't have time to be sentimental right now. My water breaks right after I step into the tub, and I call Silas's attention to it. "Perfect timing," I remark. "I told you I needed a shower."

"It's happening," Silas exclaims excitedly.

"Yep, I already told you it was," I respond before closing the shower curtain and turning on the water.

I finish my shower before I have another contraction. I tell Silas to look at the time on his phone. He helps me out of the tub and hands me a towel.

"Why did you wash your hair?" he asks in dismay. "You just washed it this morning."

"I felt like it," I answer dismissively. "We should vacuum the apartment."

"What?" he questions in bewilderment. "You're having a baby right now."

"Not right this minute," I tell him. "We need to clean first."

"We cleaned yesterday," he reminds me.

I towel off and hand him the towel. "Go wash this. We need clean towels."

"We have clean towels," he says as I open the bathroom door and walk naked toward our bedroom.

He hurries ahead of me and tries to give me my bathrobe. I ignore it and open my underwear drawer.

"Why are you putting those on?" he asks. "You'll need to take them off to give birth."

Even as he's talking, he's preparing to help me put them on so that I won't have to bend while pulling them onto my legs. He's been very attentive in the final months of my pregnancy, and he's offered to get me whatever I want—hence the ice cream for lunch.

He pulls the underwear up over my hips with one hand while helping me up off the bed with the other. His arms have become strong from lifting weights at the rec center with Michael. He still jogs too, but I've had to slow down to a stroll. We walk around the block together in the evenings to avoid the heat of the day. I'm glad I'm having the baby now in June before the weather gets too hot.

"We need to call your parents," Silas exclaims suddenly. He kisses my belly before rising to his feet.

I shuffle toward the closet as he makes the call. I decide on a thin summer dress. The maternity bras I bought clasp in the front, so I'm able to put one on without help.

"We're not sure yet," Silas is saying. "Maybe a half hour between them." He takes the dress out of my hands and helps me put it on.

I pick up my hairbrush and begin to brush my wet hair. As I gaze into the mirror on the dresser, I'm wondering if the baby will look like me or Silas. I am blonde and blue-eyed, and he has black hair and very dark brown eyes. Girls still stare at him, even with me by his side carrying his baby in my belly. I tease him that women will flock to his church just to look at him.

He smiles at my compliments, but he's never been the type to put much focus on his looks. He puts more attention on me than he does on himself. Michael was the one who talked him into the weight training.

"You're gonna have to stay in top shape to keep your beautiful wife," he joked.

"She is very beautiful," Silas concurred seriously, both embarrassing and delighting me with his appreciative, lingering look at me.

"Well," Michael had remarked, "I see the honeymoon's not over."

It really wasn't, although our sex life had been on hold for the past two months. Silas still gazed lovingly at me every day. My life had been filled with happiness ever since I had married him, and the baby was about to make me even happier.

"Rest, Mila," Silas urges me now as I pull out the vacuum cleaner. "I'll do that."

I'm too full of energy to rest, but another contraction halts me in my tracks. This one is stronger than the previous two.

"Twenty minutes," Silas pronounces.

"Your parents are coming," he says as he plugs in the vacuum cleaner. "Justin is coming with them. They wanted to leave him at home, but he doesn't want to wait to see the baby."

"I knew he'd love being an uncle," I declare happily.

We work out a plan for Justin and my dad to stay at Michael's apartment during the birth. They'll be close by and able to get here soon afterwards. I'm comfortable with having my mom here, so she'll remain here with us.

It takes two hours for my contractions to decrease from twenty minutes apart to fifteen minutes apart, so I'm assuming that labor will last many more hours. I'm getting a bit impatient to have the baby, but the arrival of my family distracts me from my pacing.

Silas has called Michael and confirmed that it's okay for my dad and Justin to come over to his apartment. In another week, he would no longer be living there. All of us were moving when our leases were up at the end of the month. Silas and Michael had both graduated from bible college. Michael is moving back in with his parents until he finds a job, and we're moving closer to my parents.

My doctor had told me that up to two weeks past my due date was normal. If that had happened, I would have had to give birth in a hospital in my hometown, because my midwife lives here. I wouldn't have had time to look for a new one after we moved.

Justin surprises me by hugging me before he leaves. "Did you think about the name I told you?" he enquires.

"Sorry," I tell him, "but we're still naming him Joshua."

"I guess Josh will be okay," he says.

He wanted us to name our son Stryker. "Stryker Smith," he had said. "It even makes your last name sound cool."

I hadn't ever given much thought to the name Joshua before, but Silas and I both liked it when we saw it on a baby name site. Joshua Smith was a nice name. We weren't worried about it being cool.

"It's not too late to go to the hospital," Dad tells me. "If you're worried about the money—"

"We have insurance," I interrupt him. "It's not about the money. I just want to be comfortable at home."

"They have drugs there," he says. "I'd want the drugs. Your mother had the drugs."

"I'll be fine," I assure him. "I learned all the breathing techniques in Lamaze class."

"Don't make her nervous," Mom snaps at him, although I'm a lot calmer than she is.

He gives me a wry look. "I guess I better go before she kicks me out. I love you kiddo." He carefully leans over my big belly to give me a kiss on the cheek.

"I love you too, Dad." I smile at him and Justin as I watch them walk out the door.

Silas has given them Michael's address. They're driving there, and they'll drive back after the baby is born. As soon as they leave, Mom makes the same suggestion that she just yelled at Dad about.

"I don't need to go to the hospital," I reply. "My midwife is a trained nurse. She knows how to deliver a baby."

I researched midwives and made sure that we got someone with medical training. We call her an hour later when my contractions are ten minutes apart. She arrives with supplies, including a pad for the bed so that our sheets will stay clean. She says that there is still plenty of time before the baby comes.

"The doctor would have you wait until the contractions are five minutes apart to call, but I like to come earlier. Even first labors don't always follow a set pattern."

She goes with my mother to set everything up in the bedroom. Silas excuses himself to go to the bathroom. I sit down on the couch, and I see Abel walk through the door into our apartment.

"Hey!" I greet him. "How have you been?"

"The same," he answers in his sandpaper voice.

"Do you miss Silas? Have they given you a new partner?"

"We don't have partners," he replies.

"A friend," I say. Have you made any new friends? Like the blond one," I continue as I recall the blond reaper approaching me at the hospital. "Do you know the blond one?"

"There are many blond ones," he says.

"Oh," I respond. "I haven't seen any others. Anyway," I indicate my swollen belly, "we're having a baby."

"Yes," he states.

He looks completely emotionless, but I smile at him. "Silas will be happy to see you. Well, he won't see you, but he'll be happy that you came to see him."

"Who are you talking to?" Mom asks.

I look at her, and Abel is gone when I glance back toward him. I find it amusing that my mom spooked Death, but I'm disappointed that he left before Silas could talk to him. They might have been able to have a short conversation through me, but it isn't the best time with Marion and my mom here. Maybe he'll come back later when we're alone.

I'm saved from having to answer my mom's question when I have another contraction. It's strong enough to make me gasp. Marion looks at me in surprise after glancing at her watch. "Five minutes since the last one," she notes. "That was a fast shift."

Silas returns from the bathroom, but I don't get a chance to speak to him alone. Marion wants to check how dilated I am, so we go into the bedroom.

"I'm glad I got here early," she says. "This baby's coming fast."

She checks my blood pressure. "Looking good," she pronounces.

Within an hour, the contractions are coming in such quick succession that I hardly have time to take a breath between them. The pain in my lower back is becoming so excruciating that I'm starting to wish I had listened to my dad and gone to the hospital for the drugs.

The expression on my mom's face looks like she's almost in as much pain as I am. Tears are streaming down her face. Silas doesn't look much better. He's so anxious as he holds my hand that I doubt he could look much worse if he was going to the guillotine. Neither one of them are any comfort to me at all.

"I'm the one having the baby," I snap at them. "Stop looking like you're being tortured."

"She's in transition," Marion tells them. "Don't take anything she says personally. She doesn't mean it."

"Oh, I mean it," I grumble. "I don't even know why you guys are here. I don't need you," I pant as the pain overwhelms me again.

"This is barbaric!" Mom explodes. "Can't you give her something for the pain?"

"She's almost there," Marion replies in a soothing voice. "Even if I had anything, it would just slow down labor at this point. She'll need to push soon."

"I hate seeing her in pain," Silas speaks in an anguished tone.

"Go get her some ice to suck on," Marion instructs him.

I tighten my grip on his hand. "You're not going anywhere. I don't need any freaking ice. I need you to stay here and be a man."

Before he can recover from my tirade, I experience a surge of joy. "He's being born! Our baby boy is almost here."

The pain hasn't stopped, and I still have the ordeal of pushing the baby through the birth canal, but I'm buoyed by the knowledge that I'll soon see my baby.

I'm excited by the time the others exclaim excitedly over the baby, but I rally when I hear his cry. My first glimpse of him turns from wonder to fear as I see the radiant being approaching him.

The angel is the most beautiful sight I've ever beheld, but I wail in anguish. "No! Don't take him!"

"What's wrong?" Silas and Mom cry out in unison.

"There's an angel," I sob. "Please don't take my baby."

"Fear not," the angel says. "I watch over the child. Your son will lead many to God."

I look at my tiny son. "Who is he?" I ask in awe.

"He is a man," the angel explains. "One who is called to God from birth and will never lose his way."

My gaze moves back to my baby. "The angel watches over him," I say. "He is Joshua's guardian angel."

Silas brings our son to me. His brown eyes are bright, and he stares at me. He has Silas's eyes. I place my pinkie finger in his tiny hand, and he grasps it.

I feel weaker than a baby myself, but I need nothing else except my son. The rest of the world has ceased to exist for me.

I hear Marion speaking. Her voice is panicked, but it doesn't upset me now that I know Joshua is safe. "We need an ambulance!"

She rattles off our address and my condition. I'm bleeding profusely, and my blood pressure is dropping.

I realize why Abel was here. "Silas," I say, "take care of our son."

"Mila," he chokes out with a stricken expression.

"It's okay," I tell him. "It's my time." I fix my gaze on the precious baby God has blessed us with. I'm dying, but I'm ready now that my search has come to an end. As I look at Joshua, I know that I have found the one I have been seeking.


My long, strange journey with this story is finished. I like the reaper premise, and I might write another one. It will be different than this one, because I try not to write the same story twice. Right now though, I want to write something light and fun, so I'll be working on completing one of my lighter incomplete stories. Thank you to anyone who read this story.