The days were getting warmer. He was getting more than one toe into the water. And she was laughing more often.
“I’m with child,” she announced one day and he thought he could never feel happiness such as what he felt in that moment.
They took the process one day at a time. She seemed to get even more beautiful with each day and he seemed to forget that ball of panic in his belly with every other day.
He would sit for hours with his ear to her womb and the other ear listening to her voice. For it was her most favoured occupation in recent days- to talk to the baby, to tell stories to the baby and by extension to its father.
He heard about kingdoms and queens, about bevies on the water and wedges in the sky, about winged warriors and water festivals. He learnt, unintended though it may be, about her origins, about her family and about her life in the past. He also memorized, subconsciously though it may be, all the stories.
Why did he do that? He didn’t know. Every time he asked himself that question, the ball of panic in his belly would throb painfully and he would give up.
When the pains started one night, she was sleeping in his arms. She woke up with a scream and dry eyes and not a tear was shed over the next 12 hours of labour.
The baby was a little girl, with wispy white hair and grey eyes.
“She looks like me,” she whispered when she held her child for the first time and for the first time in 9 months, she shed a tear onto that beautiful blonde head.
Also for the first time, she held her little baby close, drew in a breath and started to sing.
It was a lullaby. It talked about dreams, about wishes on stars, about stories shared on a cozy night. It talked of memories, of fantasies, of a mother’s love for her little child. Grandmothers and grandfathers remembered days long past and shed tears into their pillows. Mothers and fathers everywhere hugged their children a little closer and sighed in contentment. Little babies all over the world slept without a wrinkle that night.
Everybody slept. Except for her. And except for him.
He held her hand and pretended to not notice the tears his beloved was shedding. He placed small kisses on her palm, on her arm, on her hand from time to time and pretended his heart wasn’t breaking a little more with each kiss. He snuggled up next to her, pulled her into his arms and pretended those weren’t his tears on her shoulder.
As the song wound to a close, as he whispered a shaky I love you into her ears, as she placed a final kiss on her baby’s head, her eyes closed.
And they never opened again.