She was calm, and I was screaming. With the effort it took to push my body, squeeze myself up with everything I had, the horrible drawn-out pain, I thought I might just empty my body of all my organs with my baby.
But then came the horror, as I felt her leave me, and heard nothing. My screams halted like someone had yanked on my throat, and I forced my exhausted body to let me sit up and see her.
The midwife was holding her, her back to me, a nurse was there too. I heard their muttering, but I didn’t see or hear my baby.
I think now that was the moment my fear of silence was born. The same moment my beautiful daughter took her first breath, but didn’t scream.
Bonnie’s not mute. She took a bit longer to speak than my friends’ babies, but eventually she did. When she did, she spoke slowly and deliberately, in a way that suited her pale, wide-set eyes and intense gaze.
After her first few months in nursery, her teacher called me in. She seemed apologetic and awkward, and asked if I was teaching my daughter a pagan religion or letting her watch films about witchcraft. As I began to protest, she said that some of the other parents had complained that their kids were scared of Bonnie, that they thought she was a witch.
I laughed. When I got home, I watched Bonnie crush herbs for me for dinner, and hum something under her breath. She would make a good witch, I thought, and laughed at myself.
But she wasn’t. In fact, as she progressed through school, she became very interested in physics. Once, still in nursery, she told me how she’d learned that everything falls to the ground because we’re standing on a huge planet that grips onto us really tight.
“I can feel it,” she told me earnestly. She jumped up, and fell back down.
When I told the teacher I was impressed by her understanding of gravity, she told me they didn’t study that until Year 2. I decided she must have read about it.
By the time she reached Year 2, she knew many more things. She told me solemnly how white light was made up of all the colours and how air moves over an aeroplane’s wing and that when she breathed out, the air tasted different from when she breathed in.
She began predicting things a few years later. At first, it was a game between us. We would guess how long it would take us to drive to school. The first week, we guessed in minutes. I would time it, and she would always win.
Then she began to guess in seconds. She was still right, every time.
I was called into school again. A different teacher had the same expression. He told me Bonnie had pushed a boy off the climbing frame, and he had broken his arm. Apparently, the day before she had threatened him, saying she would break his arm.
But Bonnie said she had been playing football with her friends, and a playtime assistant confirmed it.
“I just knew he was going to break his arm, Mummy,” she told me. “I saw it, the way I see you standing here now, and you scraping your car on the railing tomorrow, and Pimmy dying next Thursday. I didn’t push him, I just warned him.”
I didn’t know what to say, then. And I didn’t know what to say when I scraped my car or her hamster died the following Thursday, either.
I began to believe in her foresight. I told her not to talk about it with other children, because it might scare them, but as each of her predictions came true, I couldn’t deny them.
It didn’t worry her. She told me that everything was controlled by everything else, and she could just see how it all happened. She understood the future, and accepted it. Just as she had calmly accepted being born.