"I hate being pregnant." Marlena mumbled for the fourth time since we had got up this morning. I knew she didn't mean it, not really, but had made the mistake to point this out to her twice, and had received the bruise to prove it.
In just over the three months we had been travelling with Ringling, I had thought over what we going to do once the baby came more than twice a day, and now that Marlena, however much she hated pregnancy, kept mentioning children, I was having to think through our future faster than I used to secretly read eight pagers under my cover at Cornell.
"I know." I sighed and wrapped my arm around her waist as we passed the menagerie, Bobo banged and screeched from the inside of his cage and I rolled my eyes, leading Marlena over to him and crouching down in front of me.
I winked and reached on top of the cage to produce his breakfast, which I knew he could no doubt smell. I pushed the banana though the slats and he yelped excitedly before tucking in.
I beamed and patted the cage affectionately, "There you go mate."
Marlena sighed and leant back into my side as we walked towards the cookhouse, me being greeted by the smell of perhaps the best meal of the day, my wife paling and looking like they were offering to feed her horse dung.
She stopped walking, "Jacob I can't go in there, I'll be sick." She said quietly.
I sighed and stroked her cheek, "you need to eat something, even if its just bread, it will make you feel better I promise."
She frowned, "You're not a doctor."
I rolled my eyes, "I just know these things, now come on, I'll let you ride Rosie for half an hour if you just try and eat something."
"Under your supervision?" She checked.
I just looked at her as though she was stating the most basic fact in the history of everything.
"Whoopee." Marlena muttered but a grin spread across her face.
I kissed her cheek, "That's my girl."
She re-took my hand and lead me, yes she lead me, into the Cookhouse tent. She didn't surprise me by telling me what she wanted, kissing my cheek and then sitting down, it had been that way for a few weeks, when I had first enforced the, no standing for too long rule.
Yes it was true, I wasn't a doctor, but that didn't stop me worrying. I cared for her more than I had anything in my entire life, and I wasn't about to let her strain herself now.
I didn't want her doing anything dangerous at the best of times, let alone when she was four moths pregnant with our baby.
It was a conversation we seemed to have very day when we first arrived at Ringling, and the more we had it the more it seemed to grow to be more of an argument and anything else.
"You aren't getting on Rosie your pregnant." I would tell her firmly.
"I'll be careful, and she's so gentle..." My wife would trail off as I interrupted.
"She's a six tonne Bull she could hurt you without meaning to Marlena." I would tell her seriously.
Marlena would sigh, "I won't fall off Jacob, some trust please."
I glanced back at my wife where she was sat playing with her fingers waiting for me to get breakfast. I sighed and smiled at the woman behind the counter who served me and smiled.
"How's she doing this morning?" She asked.
I smiled and glanced at my wife, "she's okay."
The woman sighed and patted me on the shoulder before I carried our food over to my wife. I sat down facing her, at our own private table with the upper class as Marlena called them.
At Ringling the workers sat out in the field eating, you only got a table if you were deemed important enough, there were that many people working here.
Marlena ended up sharing my breakfast with me and I smiled, pushing it towards her so she could finish. She smiled and ate while I dipped my bread in places to soak up the egg, whilst watching her fondly, not really knowing how to approach the topic.
She saved me by speaking first.
"Do you think there's a reason he or she hasn't started kicking yet?"
I frowned, "Why, does something feel wrong?"
"No its just... I'm over fourth months gone, I'm supposed to be feeling them move by now." She said quietly and looked down at her stomach.
I reached across the table to touch her cheek, "Do you want me to take you into town today, see a Doctor?"
She brushed it away, "No I'm sure its fine, I just... I just want to know they're really in there you know."
I was going to make a comment about being able to see them when I thought better of it.
So I changed the topic instead.
"I've been thinking alot about what we are going to do lately." I told her and her eyes snapped up.
"When the babies born... I mean we can't spend our whole lives on the circus, not if we're going to have four or five Jacob Juniors." I laughed and she smiled at me thoughtfully.
"You'd really do that... so we could have a family." She whispered.
I smiled and took both her hands in mine on the table, leaning closer, she did the same.
"The setting is irrelevant. I just want a house where we can grow old together and watch our kids grow up in, with some fields out back they can get into all kinds of scrapes in." I chuckled and she laughed.
"What about Rosie, and Queenie... The horses, Bobo?" She asked.
I smiled, "Naturally they would be in the fields. I can see it now, the Jankowski Petting Zoo, not bad hey?" I asked and she smiled.
She touched her lips to mine and stood up, me watching her curiously as she did so.
"What's the matter, where are you going?" I demanded, and several people looked up, obviously assuming we were fighting again.
"I need a moment, and then I'll meet you by Rosie, we have to train after all." She said and kissed me before flitting back to our trailer.
I sighed and stood, walking with my hands in my pockets over to where Rosie was after collecting Bobo. He wrapped his arms around me as I carried him on my hip over towards my second favourite girl.
I patted Rosie's trunk as her and Bobo watched one another.
"You are two very lucky dumb animals you know that?" I laughed and Rosie hit me on the back of the head with her trunk, gently, but hard enough to cause me to move.
I rolled my eyes and patted in between her eyes, "Sorry Rose."