B L U E S
Insanity is definitely not the word. I refuse to see myself as a handicapped woman, regardless of what I might look like…
Ten forty-one. Ah, the creature cries. Over there, that bundle of white, with a whiny, petty and loud – oh so loud! – little monster upsets me; it wouldn't let me sleep, oh no, it would bite my breasts, with those toothless gums… it's only logic that I don't let it eat from me…
Angeline fingers the card on her bedside table, eyeing her husband's handwriting with little interest.
Okay, okay, where was I? – oh, shut it already! – Insanity… no, not me. I'm perfectly sane, it makes all the sense that I don't… that I just don't… oh, for the love of Mary, stop it!
Angeline steps up from the bed, her frail figure shaking. She can hardly sustain herself, and she tries to lift the bundle of her son, wrapped in white linen cloths. The baby is crying as she haphazardly makes her way back to the bed, and loosens the laces of her white night-gown, the shape of a breast coming out an into the infant's mouth.
Family, that's what they say! I have no idea where this little blood-sucking creature… no, stop it, it hurts!
Angeline scowls as the baby bites her nipple, but she doesn't make any attempt of stopping it.
If only I could drop this thing down the window… if only… I am so weak…
Ten forty-three. I wonder if Timmy is coming soon…
Red roses lay on the floor, trodden on. Angeline swings back and forth on a rocking chair. The baby sleeps.
Four thirty. September the first. I wonder if that's auspicious…
Angeline holds the baby to her heart, as strongly as her feeble arms allow. She wouldn't let go, and her forehead shines with the sweat of her effort.
Louis the XIV died on September the first…
Her whole body becomes rigid, as a sob contorts her face in an agony moan. Trying to suppress her cries of terror, she holds little Artemis even harder, stroking his head as she shakes in desperation.
My baby, my Arty, my love… my baby…
The clock struck nine when Artemis the First entered his wife's room and sat by her side, admiring the son he had begotten.
"His name will be Artemis."
He never asked. She didn't need him to.
"He will be great. Artemis the Second."
Angeline beamed and ran a delicate finger down her son's features, tracing them with marvelled awe. And Artemis the First forgot about work for a few blissful minutes.
Later, when Angeline awoke, a large bouquet of red roses rested on a crystal vase, and she dedicated a long, loving glance to it.
Two fifty. What is taking him so long! Perhaps… but no, he loves me, I know… but then… I'm weak, and ugly, a-and, I'm… deformed! My body… my body will no longer be what it was… would he… but no, I mustn't think about… but yes, it is a possibility…
Angeline springs out of bed and the drive of her motion makes her stumble. She looks for support on the bedside cabinet.
Ah! The vase, the roses! Oh goodness, not the roses…
She notices a trickle of blood oozing from her finger as she tries to lift the scattered flowers, and retreats, horrified. The prick of the glass shard does not make her moan, but the ever-forming drop of blood on her tip, round as her surprised eyes, mesmerizes her. And the baby cries.
Angeline is torn.
"Where is my husband? Where is he!"
She shouts, but nobody answers. The baby cries, and the walk-in closet – complete with a six-feet-long mirror – beckons. Her figure is distorted in her eyes, and she wants to go back to when she wasn't a mother.
Two fifty-nine. Maybe… maybe he found another woman…
The baby cries. Angeline forgets about the mirror, about her husband, about her finger.
About the roses.
Hearing the ancient call of maternity, she lifts her baby from the bed and soothes him with a lullaby.
Angeline sleeps the medically blessed slumber of sedatives, under the vigilant –and desolate? – stare of Artemis the first, to whom the doctor whispers something.
"Post-partum depression, very common…"
Artemis the First would like to shut the doctor's voice and lie besides his wife. He would like to remove the bandage on her wrist and kiss the wound it covers. He would also like to hold his son for a moment, to look directly at his closed lids and transmit him his love, but most of all, his mother's love. He knows she loves him, and knows she'd rather die herself than causing him any harm, but then…
"… a few tests, to see if the problem might return…"
Artemis the First knows Angeline. He knows she's strong, and he is sure she will come out of this one alright, with the proper treatment. He knows her; she is not insane, as the doctor might want to make it look. Post-partum depression is very common, it doesn't mean anything.
"…underlying problems regarding Mrs. Fowl stability…"
"Nonsense. My wife is perfectly normal, and her mind is healthy and strong. I hope you're not suggesting she is insane, doctor?"
"No, of course not, Master Fowl…"
Ten years from then on will prove Artemis the First right in his eyes.
For if there is even the tiniest shred of evidence that he might lose his wife, he knows he won't survive her absence.
"My baby, my Arty…"
Angeline is cooing, something she's hardly done in the past. The baby sleeps the heavenly blessed slumber of newborns, and the mother watches over him, her eyes loving as a mother's should be.
Five forty-five. No, I won't let anyone harm you, my baby. Not the thunder, nor the rain, nor anything… anyone…
The rain rattles on the window, furious wind pushing it almost open. Angeline looks apprehensively at the greyish clouds piling up outside, and wishes her husband were there to embrace her.
I'd go myself to see him… if only I was strong…
She pulls her legs to her and cries –a bundle of white over the King-size bed–, cries as if she had just found her tears and was desperate to get them out. Her sobs are overwhelmed by the whistle of the wind, and the baby sleeps like a little angel in his bassinet, oblivious to the storms around him. No one listens to her as her feet tread on the roses, hurting herself with the thorns as she looks for something, something the maid didn't take away.
("Take the glass, leave the roses."
Angeline shifts the flattened flowers with delicacy, and finds what she's looking for.
Six ten. He won't betray me if I'm gone, will he?
She slides her sleeve up and grins like a mad woman. The last rays of sunlight are all she needs; they give her skin a phosphorescent creamy tone, which delights her.
He will not hurt my Arty if I'm gone… I'll linger in his memory, as the only one…
Angeline doesn't know that yet, but the maid's scream will wake her little Arty, and no one will be able to make him sleep again.
I'm obviously writing under the assumption that nothing in TLC contradicts the fact that Angeline might have had post-partum depression when Arty was born (since I haven't read that book just yet). This was written for Criminality's September-October 2006 Challenge, and honestly hope it meets the criteria provided, 'cause I doubt I can come up with a different view of this situation.
Concrit muchly appreciated, of course.
Disclaimer: It's more likely that Artemis Fowl 0wnz me than the other way around.