Finn had never pictured her life with a child in it. She wasn't one for daydreaming anyway, but when she did, she mainly thought about what it might be like to go to the Big Outside, that her Da used to talk about.
The Big Outside was a noisy, busy place, not like these woods, according to her Da; a place with no trees and no birds and no animals, save for a dog or two. Just people, rushing and dashing about in their fancy clothes, with no time to stop and talk, or pass the time of day with a soul, or even to look at the sky. Her Da tried to paint a bad picture in Finn's head, of the Big Outside, but Finn thought that was maybe because he hadn't wanted Finn to leave him, like her Mam had, and go there. Not that her Mam had gone to the Big Outside. She had gone to the Life Everlasting. She had gone there the very same day Finn was born.
Finn sometimes wished her Mam had waited around for a spell, before going to the Life Everlasting. One day, when she was little,she had found some pictures of her Mam, in her Da's nightstand, and thought that she looked like a nice lady. She had kind, smiling eyes, and soft lips. Her Da had seen her looking at the pictures, and had snatched them out of her hand and sent her out of his room. But Finn had already tucked the littlest of the pictures into her pocket, and now it was under her mattress. She took it out and looked at it from time to time, and wondered how kisses from those soft lips would feel, at going-to-bed time. Not like Da's, Finn imagined. His kisses had been scratchy and his beard had always tickled her chin.
Still, her Da wasn't around anymore, so there were no going-to-bed time kisses at all nowadays, not even scratchy, tickly ones. When they had put her Da in the ground, the Reverend had said that her Da had gone to the Life Everlasting, but that made Finn feel worried, because she knew her Da was in the box, and the box was in the ground. She wanted to ask the Reverend what he meant, but she didn't say anything, because he would just have looked at her in the way people always looked at Finn, and patted her on the shoulder, so she had kept quiet.
After her Da had gone into the ground, a lady had come by, a few times, to see how Finn was coping. When she saw that Finn was getting enough to eat, and keeping the place tidy, she had stopped coming. That was many winters ago, now. But as the winters came and went, and the springs came, Finn would wonder again, about the Big Outside. She wondered how she could get there, and what she would do there. She wondered about that, but she never, ever wondered what it would be like to have a child.
Finn had seen children, of course, at the farm down the track, where she got her eggs and milk, in exchange for a couple of hours work every week, and a little mending. The farmer had two children, called Milly and Sam. She had known them since they were babies, though she had not been allowed to get too close to them, then. They were kind children, just like the farmer and his wife were kind. Now they were older, they too looked at Finn that way.
She found the baby on the way back from the farm, one morning. At first, she thought it was a pile of clothes, but then she thought she saw it move, and decided it was a dog, all tangled up in the clothes. But then it made a noise. It made a noise that didn't sound at all like a dog. It was a loud noise, and at first it made Finn feel frightened, and want to run back to her little house, but she stopped and looked at it, and went ever so slowly towards it. Then, ever so carefully, she picked it up. And it stopped making the noise, and looked up into Finn's eyes. And then, it smiled at Finn.
And Finn smiled back. It didn't look at Finn in that way. And that was when Finn knew she would keep it.