Bitter are the tears of a child: Sweeten them.
Deep are the thoughts of a child: Quiet them.
Sharp is the grief of a child: Take it from him.
Soft is the heart of a child: Do not harden it.

--Pamela Glenconner


Her arm was draped over his side, the swell of her pregnant belly pressed against his back. Every time the baby kicked, he smiled. But his smile did not last. She shifted in the bed beside him, searching for a more comfortable position. He turned toward her. "Ok?" he whispered.

"Hm?"

"Are you okay?"

"Sure. It's not easy to find a comfortable position when you're a beached whale, and it's not going to get any easier from here on out."

He kissed her temple. "You're beautiful."

"Yeah, yeah, keep on lying to me, Goren."

"I'm not," he protested. "I always thought you were beautiful when you were pregnant."

"Beautiful, and grumpy, and uncomfortable..."

He smiled and kissed her again. "Want another pillow?"

"No. I think I can manage with four right now. Why are you awake?"

"I just can't sleep. Nothing new."

"Nervous about tomorrow?"

"You have no idea."

"It'll be all right."

"I hope so."

He sighed softly, and she understood his apprehension. She leaned up to softly kiss him, snuggling closer against his body. "I trust your judgment. You know when she's having a good day and when things are going to go bad. Everything will be fine."

She reached up to finger his hair, deciding it was a good time to approach this subject. "Bobby, does she know about Maggie?"

He nodded. "She knows."

"Does she know we were married?" Again he nodded. "How is she with it?"

"The marriage or Maggie?"

"Both."

"Well...when I told her we got married, she just nodded her head and said 'It's about damn time, boy.' She always liked you."

"And Maggie?"

He sighed. "I told her about Maggie right after she was born."

"Have you told her that she's yours?"

"Yes."

"Bobby, you're making me work here and I'm tired."

He smiled and kissed her, pulling her closer into his side so he could nuzzle her hair. He sighed, a soft, contented sound. "She said it was a good thing. All along she's been telling me she's never seen a man so...enamored of a little girl. She insisted all along that she looked like me, but I just wrote it off as part of her delusions, you know, wishful thinking for a grandchild. When I told her Maggie was mine, she leaned back in her chair and smiled. She knew it all along, just from seeing the pictures. But she never said 'I told you so.' She said every little girl should have a daddy who adores her. Then she wanted to know when I was going to bring her by to visit her."

"And you said...?"

"Soon, Mom."

"She knows about the baby?"

"Yes, and she's happy about that, too. She said she hopes it's a boy."

"Why?"

"No competition for Maggiie."

She laughed softly. "As if."

"Are you saying I won't love this baby like I love Maggie?"

"Of course not. I'm saying that, boy or girl, this baby will find his own special place in your heart and will be no competition for Maggie. I trust you to make them both feel special and loved."

He nodded, but didn't say anything. She slid her hand under his shirt and gently rubbed her palm over the soft hair covering his abdomen. "Are you going to start including us in your weekly visits now?"

"Weekly?"

"Come on, Bobby. It's been three months since I've seen her and Maggie has never met her. I'm sorry she's sick, but that will never change and we need to love her and accept her for who she is, not avoid her because of something she can't control."

"I...I don't want her to scare Maggie. Her behavior can be...terrifying...especially for a child."

"Are you planning to let her babysit?"

"Uh...babysit? No. You...you didn't want her to...did you?"

She laughed and lightly tickled him. "No, don't panic. My point is we'll both be right there. You know when she's heading down the path that leads to 'them.' I'll take Maggie and we'll leave if we must before she ever gets scary. Okay? Maggie will be fine and she's all excited about meeting Gramma."

He closed his eyes, focusing on the gentle caress of her hand. "Okay, Alex. But if I tell you to take Maggie from the room..."

"I promise, I won't hesitate."

"No argument? Even if you can't see it?"

"You have never let me visit until recently. I don't know how to read her and I wouldn't presume to try. Now relax."

She nibbled at his ear and gently played with the waistband of his boxers. He closed his eyes and softly groaned. Her fingers continued to stray and soon he forgot about the impending visit, and everything else, focusing all his attention on her and only her.