It was their first home together and, like many people, Jack and Beth wanted to make it special.
‘You know,’ said Beth, ‘things are going to have to change when Autumn comes.’
‘I know, I know. There’s a lot to do but I’m up to it,’ said Jack.
‘Well, it won’t be long now, so I hope you are,’ said Beth.
Jack was true to his word. Despite working all the overtime he could get, the young couple needed every penny, he still found time to tidy the garden and dig out the brambles and nettles that had taken root during the summer.
After spending a rare spare Saturday making sure all the fences were fixed and the paving was straight and level Jack paused for a few minutes. He went to the fridge to get himself a beer as a reward for a job well done only to find it was the last one.
That evening, as they relaxed, Jack said, ‘there’s no beer left. I’ll pick some up tomorrow.’
‘Are you sure we can afford it?’ said Beth, ‘Autumn will be here soon with all the extra expense. We don’t really know how much money we’ll need.’
‘You’re right, I can do without for a few months, until we see how we are.’
When the weather was fine, and he wasn’t at work, Jack would carry on working in the garden. When the weather was wet, he would work in the house, decorating and laying new carpet. Occasionally the couple would make a trip to the shops and buy something together, but not very often.
‘It won’t be long now,’ said Beth one day, ‘I think Autumn is just around the corner.’
Jack worked harder, did even more overtime. He was lucky, he enjoyed his work. But he didn’t enjoy it as much as being at home with Beth. But they both knew it was the best thing for them, for Jack to be earning as much as he could just now.
Then one Wednesday afternoon while he was at work Ben got a text from Beth. He told his boss he had to leave; Beth was in hospital.
He drove as quickly as he dare but the roads were narrow and twisty and it seemed like the day that every harvest tractor in the land was on the road. Eventually he made it to the hospital and found somewhere to park.
Jack ran into reception and asked the way to Beth’s ward. The volunteer receptionist told him, but also told him not to run. He had never walked so fast in all his life. Finally, he was at Beth’s bedside, she seemed to be sleeping, he didn’t know if he should wake her when she turned, opened her eyes and smiled at him.
‘What do think of Autumn, then?’ said Beth.
Jack reached down, tears glistening in his eyes.
‘She’s beautiful,’ he said, bewitched by the daughter he cradled in his arms.