A couple of months have gone by and Lucy was progressing smoothly in her pregnancy. Her cravings have lessened though she wished more of those insane cravings than the swollen ankles. On an added note, her breasts looked heavenly.
Her friend Elizabeth had just found out she was expecting her first child and absolutely radiating with joy. Lucy was ecstatic, like any friend should be but she was a little jealous she had a husband to share her blessing with. She longed to have a man place his hands protectively over her stomach, to lay his head on her belly and hear his children, to feel the kicks…
A cough brought her attention back to reality. Charles came in and suddenly hid the handkerchief he was coughing into at the sight of Lucy. He gave her a weak smile and wiped at the sweat on his brow. Lucy wondered if he was coming down with a cold but this was a might bad cold if it lasted for a month.
"You're looking a little tired, why don't I finish marinating the fish?" He walked over and grabbed the stinky de-skinned fish from in front of her and proceeded to rubbing it with Lucy's garlic and lime paste. She was thankful and didn't argue, the stink was quite bad. She washed her hands and sat down swiftly, the ache in her back was getting gradually worse as the days go on by. These babies needed to get out now and fast!
"Instead of resting, why don't you out and get some exercise, it'll help get rid of tension in your muscles. Even though I am a physician, I have to admit, you're a bit painful to look at." He shrugged apologetically.
Lucy threw him a glare, he was very lucky nothing was around her otherwise Charles would have been unconscious with a smelly fish on his face. However, she did take her doctor's orders. She removed her apron and went out the door. The fresh air was invigorating and clean. It was high time she explored the markets and at what a time it was. It was the end of the month, the time where all the travellers came to towns to sell their acquired exotic items.
The stands were filled with funny fruits of all shapes and sized. One fruit in particular caught her eye; it was a yellow round shaped fruit with disfigured claws beckoning on one side. She stopped in front of a rather large man with skin as smooth as the inside of an almond but as dark as the outside. His beard was magnificent, black and oiled and resting peacefully on his belly. He smiled down at her kindly as she picked up the fruit and turned it over.
"What is this?" Lucy asked the Mediterranean merchant but her attention was hard to render from his purple bejeweled turban.
"That, my dear, is called the Buddha hand, it's very rare- "the merchant was cut off as Lucy gasped.
"I've seen it before…in…in London when they were bringing exports of India and China. They are from my world. Where did you get it?" She looked at him in awe but he flabbergasted and snatched the fruit from her hand.
All of a sudden he pretended he did not know English, "buy fruit or no? No sale, bye-bye then!"
She eyed him shrewdly and moved on. This time her eyes fell on an unexplored end, the magician's corner. She made her way towards the psychics table and sat down, the frilly woman was surprised that someone occupied the chair in front of her but she quickly masked it with a dreamy expression.
Lucy was excited as she put her palm out towards her, "will you read my hand?"
The woman nodded and grasped her hand, Lucy gasped for the second time that day, and it was as if their hands were magnetic opposites attracting one another. The psychic's eyes held on to hers as her cold yet soft fingers traced her palms.
"Hardships in your life but you are oh so young. No…happiness, your hardships have brought you happiness. Much happiness…but what is this I see? A dark cloud, another hardship? Yes but what does it mean? Do you live with someone?"
Lucy froze, "Yes."
"Does he save people's lives?"
"He's a physician, so yes."
"Has he been sick?"
"What are you implying?"
"I see a figure, your physician…with a dark cloud over his head. It is a sure sign of looming death – "
Lucy pulled her hand away abruptly, "Even though you are a phony and con people of their money, I never thought you would stoop so low to make false accusations of 'looming deaths." She tossed a few coins on the table while the psychic spoke.
"Thank you for the generous donation, Lucy."
She had never told the women her name. She ran home.
"Hm?" She asked, her eyes never leaving her needlework. She sighed heavily as she held up her poorly knitted green socks. Apparently, her babies will have three of their toes sticking out. She tossed it to the side as she glanced up at a fidgeting Charles. He was growing worse as the days went by, his pale skin was a sickly yellow, his bags were more prominent than lately, and his hair was matted. He had also lost a considerable amount of weight.
"I have not been feeling to well these past couple of months as I am sure you can tell…"
"Yes yes, I know. It's not that hard to tell. It's just a cold though, right?" She was his body stiffen in response; he brought out his handkerchief to wipe his sweaty neck.
"I have taken time to assess my symptoms and even I am baffled –", he brought out in a fit of coughs that racked his entire body. It was painful to hear and witness but this time Lucy was sure of what she saw on his cloth.
"That's blood." She grabbed the cloth, unafraid if she may catch whatever he may have, and waved it in his face, "you've been coughing up blood, when were you going to tell me?"
"As soon as I realized what is wrong with me."
Lucy raised an eyebrow while impatiently tapping her foot, "and?"
"I have come up with nothing." Charles grabbed his handkerchief back just in time before another coughing hit took over, this one was even worse than before.
"Do you need to sit down?" Before Lucy was waited for answer, she went to grab a wooden chair and guided him onto it.
While still recovering from his cough, Lucy grabbed a cup of warm water and placed it in his slightly shaking hands.
"I do not know what I have but I do know I am dying," his eyes remained glued to the floor, averting her eyes at all cost.
Lucy sat still and admired her friends' bold proclamation, "you know I do not like jokes like that, Charles."
"Look at me, no, really look at me."
Lucy looked at her friend with an air of apprehension. She waited for his face to break out in a grin but as his eyes carelessly scanned her face, the truth dawned upon her. He was not joking.
"We both have seen it coming for a while. The stale stink of death is all around me." He sat down on the chair opposite of her, "I wouldn't be around you if it was contagious. I wouldn't jeopardize your lives."
"I know that Charles, I never implied you were." Her hands shook so bad, she feared she would go into a seizure. Her lips quivered as she spoke, "please don't leave me."
He laughed weakly, "even if I had the power to save myself, I wouldn't. I've outgrown my usefulness here. If this sickness doesn't kill me, Caspian would."
Lucy had no qualms that Caspian would have but she didn't say anything. Instead, "is there anything you would like me to do?"
He coughed into his handkerchief, it was darkened with what Lucy thought to be blood again, however, and it was darker this time. She waited until his coughing fit eased down.
"Ah, sweet as ever. If it is not too much, I would love those berry pies you make, yet it is not a good thing to have you out in this condition."
"Nonsense! I'll be right back." Lucky grabbed her basket and headed out the door. She stopped abruptly and looked at the smiling face of Charles one more time; she knew what he was doing. He was sending her out so she doesn't see him succumb to his sickness. He knew she knew but they said nothing to one another. Why was she was so quick to abide by his wishes, why was she such a coward towards a friend who cared for her more than her own mother did? She was afraid, afraid to face the results of death. Lucky raised her hand slightly, "Good-bye Charles. I will be back soon."
She barely heard him say, "I know you will," before closing the door and heading out to the fields. She stopped short in front of the blossoming fields and instead hurried towards the shoreline.
It was another beautiful day at Emerald Island, the water glistened once again and the sun bore down on Lucy's delicate skin. She didn't cry as she sat down on the white sand but instead drew circles and stared at the calm waters until the sun started to set. Lucy was sure by now he was gone. Gone from this world. Gone from Lucy's life.
She struggled while trying to push herself off the sand but her large belly was making it quite difficult. Finally she succeeded but someone's voice almost made her crash back down.
It was him.
She said nothing as her back was turned from the source, her breathing had stopped and she didn't dare turn around. Actually, she was contemplating whether she should run away. His presence inched closer and her head swam faster at the same time. It was as if she was spinning and the world stood still.
"Damn it! Lucy is that you?"
She could hear the fear in his voice, he wanted it to be her, and it no longer held the anger. His voice was only laced with loneliness and sadness and it made her angry for the reason that she was happy and sad at the same time. She had lost a dear friend but was reunited with her lover once more.
She turned around and waited for his reaction but there was none. Of course, it was dark and it wasn't until he moved closer to her that he realized her condition. He recoiled at the sight of her, his eyes lingered on her belly, drinking in his children in there, their children. Then his eyes went back to her face, searching it for her reaction on seeing him there. However, there was none.
She simply stated, "Hold me."
He didn't need to be asked twice as he closed the gap in between them. Her small frame fit perfectly into his despite the bulge separating them. He inhaled in her scent, the same scent he dreamed over and over about. He relished the hold she had over him but it irked him the way she was holding him. Her arms were completely wrapped around him but her fingernails were piercing his back. Though it was not painful, the way she buried his face deep into his chest frightened him.
"He's gone…Charles is gone." Her voice was a mere whisper yet it sent a thousand needles into his heart. His uncle was dead and was alone; no wonder she was like this, if he had not come back on time. He didn't even wish to think of it.
She abruptly pulled back, "is that all you can say? He was your uncle!"
He stepped away, his expression neutral, "I grieve in my own way."
Her body settled down when he said this and she moved back into his embrace. "I didn't know I was with child when I left."
His hold tightened, "you wouldn't have left if you knew. I know you, Lucy."
"Are you going to take me home?" She peered through her long lashes; her eyes were frantic while she waited for his reply.
"I don't know. You've been awfully naughty…"
"Do not joke around Caspian. Your uncles' body is still warm." Caspian heart skipped a beat as his thoughts went back to his uncle.
"I'll have my men bring his body on board if you wish. I suppose you do not want to see him?"
Lucy shook her head, "no. I want to remember him as the old Charles."
Caspian nodded, "Your other friend?"
Lucy thought for a second before shaking her head again, "this is her home now."
"Good. I do not think I have it in my heart to punish her." He placed a kiss on her head before guiding her to the ship. His hands trailed the length of her back; a rush of memories came flooding back as he came about every curve.
"I've missed you Caspian."
"Perhaps later I can show you how much I missed you."