The doctor strolls into the bedroom and taps my mother's stomach.
You're not ready yet, ma'am, he says to her.
Be the holy, she trustingly replies.
That woman of yours will be some hours yet, he tells my father on the porch. He studies the Finea sky. You'll find my in Fitz's.
The doctor throws his brown satchel into the back of the Ford that's parked at an angle to our gate and ambles up to the pub. My father sits on a chair at the bottom of the bed. My mother has a slight crossing of the eye, and because she hasn't her glasses on she looks the more vulnerable. He has had water boiling downstairs all day. He's wearing the trousers of the Garda uniform and smoking John Players. The November night goes on. Some time later she goes into labour again. My father runs up the village and gets the doctor from the pub.
He feels her stomach, counts the intervals between the heaves, then says, Move over.
My mother does. He unlaces his shoes and gets in beside her.
Call me, ma'am, when you're ready, he says and falls into a drunken sleep.
My father is waiting impatiently outside on the stairs. Time passes. The snores carry to him. Eventually he turns the handle and peers into the low-ceilinged room. He can't believe his eyes.
Jack, she whispers, get Mary Sheridan, do.
He brings Mary Sheridan back on the bar of his bike. The tillylamps flare. At three in the morning the midwife delivers the child. Where the doctor was during these proceedings I don't know. As for the child, it did not grow up to be me, although till recently I believed this was how I was born. Family stories were told so often that I always thought I was there. In fact, all this took place in a neighbour's house up the road, and it was my mother, not Mary Sheridan, arrived on her bike to lend a hand.
It's in a neighbour's house the fiction begins.