I was walking along the beach today with the dog and the hubby in tow when hubby said ''big day on Thursday, a big one isn't it''. He said it almost in a delightful way, though I am sure only of my projection and in that projection I wondered if he were quietly celebrating the fact that he is one year younger than me. I pulled my hat lower on my head and quietly said ''what do you mean, a big one''? ''Being honest about it'' I said, ''you sound to me like your'e talking about a contraction''. ''A contraction'' he queried, as if I had uttered an alien word, something he had no understanding of. ''Yes contraction, as in child birth'' I said. ''Yes you know those pains that tear you apart and rip your insides asunder and you get the feeling of wanting to axe the head off of anyone who happens to be within a ten mile radius of you. Contractions.'' ''Remember, I said, when I was in all three of my ''sacred'' child labour feats and you, YOU WOULD LOOK AT THE MONITOR AND you would say ''wow here's another big one, oh yes, its going to be HUGE, tremendous, outrageous'' and you kept going until I eventually threw you out of the room, told you to go cool down, told you in plain mans language to piss off! Ofcourse you came back. You slunk back into the room after eating a blotting paper of a sandwich at the cafeteria and you put up with my insults and my screaming and you were still there when our children came into the world and you wiped my brow and vowed never to mention the word ''contraction'' again. Today, the word came back, at my initiation ofcourse, because life, in its very strange way, reminds me of a contraction. It is rise and a fall, it is the black sky moving across the horizon and then the white line heralding a temporary break in the weather and it is the sea, the choppy endless sea, temporary in its calm and it is the love and it is the childs voice rising down through the halls of a house, calling mama, mama and you think this will never end but it will and it does and then after that there are only the echoes, only the echoes in my mind that remain, a mere dream of a world, contracting with time.