Monday 15 April 2024

La Bella Luna by Kate Durrant, spring water

‘I’m going to paint my toenails black,’ she says as she reclines against multiple pillows.

One hand uncomfortably stretched away from her body holding the phone, allowing me a glimpse of her distended stomach and her pregnant chins.

The other idly cradling her unborn baby.

I think of 1992 when she was born and the faded, much photocopied Preparing for hospital A4 page which stated, as clearly as the worn cap-locked typewriters letters could REMOVE YOUR NAIL VARNISH.

‘They have better ways to detect cyanosis now,’ she says, reading my mind.


She passed her due date four days ago, and we chat by messenger on the shoulder hours of the day. As I get up and she heads to bed, or I head to bed as Morning Mum appears on my screen.

‘Do you want to talk?’ I type.

‘No,’ she says, as firmly as only a nine month and four day pregnant woman can.

‘Will he be home from work soon,’ I ask. Checking my world clock, which reminds me that most of the time we don’t share the same day.

She tells me he will, as a photograph of the Australian night sky slides onto my screen.

‘Look at the moon Mum,’ she types, reading my mind again.

We may not share the same day but we do, at least, sometimes share the same moon.


She promised me she wouldn’t stay in Australia.

A clairvoyant told her that her tall, dark, handsome man would have his feet firmly planted in Irish soil.

She lied.

The clairvoyant that is, not my daughter. She didn’t lie, she just fell in love.


‘She’s going to come today Mum,’ she says, pushing herself up with difficulty, shuffling over to the microwave in her open-plan Antipodean kitchen to heat up another pad for her aching back.

As, inside her, the baby inches slowly towards the light and prepares to meet her mother.


It’s 5 o’clock on one of those dark, damp nights between Halloween and Christmas that have neither rhyme nor reason.

I wander, lost, around the supermarket.

Picking up 70% off chocolate ghosts and full price gold-foil wrapped reindeer.

Trying to summon up enthusiasm for non-grandchild related activity, when the text comes in.

We’re on our way to the hospital,’ I read, before bursting into tears.

I hide behind the door of the vegetable freezer in the frozen food aisle. The florets inside the packet of picked fresh for you broccoli softening in my hand.

I should be there.

She needs her mum.

I need my daughter.        

I put the broccoli back, carelessly in with the carrots. Abandon the ghosts in my trolley, and return to my car leaving a trail of tears on the tarmac of the multi storey.

This was not how I planned it thirty-one years ago when I removed my nail varnish and waddled into the labour ward.


I text a friend, who sees past the lie of the smiley faced emoji.

‘Coffee?’ she replies.

As it happens we have marshmallow-topped hot chocolate instead.

Extra large.

She hugs me.

I cry.

‘She needs me,’ I tell her.

Don’t be silly,’ she says, cream clinging to the slight shadow on her upper lip, ‘she’s in agony, she’d tell you to get lost.’

I laugh.

She misses her mum, recently gone.

I miss my daughter.

So we talk instead about the war raging on the other side of Europe, as the dead and the unborn lie silently on the table with our crumpled empty sugar sachets.

We finish our chocolate and go our separate ways.

Waving goodbye, only drowning a little.


A message comes in from sky-diving Sam, my daughter’s love, about to take the biggest free-fall of his life.

‘She’s doing fine,’ his text tells me, before he gowns up to stand at her right hand, and his mum arrives, taking over the role as publicist.

‘She’s amazing,’ my daughter's mother-in-law types.

I know.


I pace the floor of the virtual maternity ward through the wee small hours. My path lit by the full moon, now keeping me company, having left her alone to her labour.

My phone taunts me with its silence and when it finally vibrates into the darkness, waking me from my sleepless night, my fingers fumble in their haste to accept the incoming video call.

I half cry and half laugh as she comes into view.

‘I can see the moon,’ I say, turning my phone to show her the village she used to call home. Bathed in silvery light, so bright it could be day.

I bring the phone back around to face me.

I stand still, and take a deep breath, as I search her exhausted face.

I can see the moon too,she says shyly, as she reclines against the hospital pillows.

One hand uncomfortably stretched away from her body holding the phone.

The other cradling her tiny, perfect, daughter, Luna.

About the author


An award winning short story writer, Kate’s fiction and poetry has been published in Irish Country Magazine, Irish Examiner, Sunday Independent and numerous anthologies and journals. She regularly contributes her vignettes to RTE Radio One; Pause for Thought BBC Radio Two, and The Irish Farmers Journal. 

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