First Paragraph from “A Birth in the Woods” by Kevin Wilson

“He had been warned that there would be blood.

Caleb’s mother had told him in their daily lessons, ‘No one is actually hurt. Blood doesn’t necessarily mean pain.’ She showed him a drawing of a baby floating in space, connected to the placenta. ‘The baby may be bloody when it comes out, but it isn’t bleeding. We’ll wash him off , wash the sheets and towels, and you won’t even remember it.’ Since his parents had decided that Caleb, six years old, would assist with the birth, he found an unending list of questions for his mother to consider. When he asked if there had been a lot of blood when he was born, his mother shook her head. ‘You were easy,’ she said. ‘You were so easy.’ ”

—Kevin Wilson

Excerpted from “A Birth in the Woods” from Astoria to Zion: Twenty-Six Stories of Risk and Abandon from Ecotone’s First Decade. Copyright © 2014 by University of North Carolina Wilmington. Used by permission of Lookout Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.