Intermezzo 5 ½ - Wife

/Today, Henry drew a picture of Mr. Cricket's umbrella floating in the sky/

/Perhaps I should stop hiding behind this pathetic notion that/

You left me, Emma. What good are those heroic promises of yours now? Where is your father's blood in your veins? He will keep making heartfelt proclamations of undying loyalty and he will keep pledging his allegiances long after he's drawn his last breath, no matter how much my ears may bleed. But you, you – you lock me in a cell, bring a cheap little trinket to "protect" me, and run off to be spirited away gods know where because obviously you have no other business to attend to and leave me to explain to our twelve year old son that—

It should have been me. I should have been the one to carry her. I will make you remember if it is the last thing I do. I will make you remember how Henry screamed that he wanted a dad like all the other children before storming away from the dinner table and how in that moment neither of us were good enough, and how you said that he would grow out of it, but the very next day I found you leaning against marble with bandages wrapped around your chest, staring at the almost bare human being looking back at you and wondering just what kind of idiot you've grown into.

Henry apologized to both of us eventually, but when we decided on a second child, he took it we were simply hoping for better, more grateful offspring. Needless to say I did enjoy all the little things he started doing then to supposedly regain our trust: clean the quarters, help cook, try harder in his studies, groom the horses… Although you might not have noticed, I knew he wasn't acting of his own will, but instead felt he was being forced to convince us of his love for us. It took a fortnight before he finally admitted a sibling wouldn't scar his young self past the point of no return.

I will make you remember how we couldn't decide who would bear it and how we fought over whom, even as a necessary evil, to pick as a potential father. I evaded that aspect for as long as possible; I didn't want to share you. I still don't, but I suppose it's not up to me anymore.

You Charmings possess an irritating dash of know-it-all attitude. In my eyes, you've taken after your father a lot more than you have after your mother – thank the gods for that. No, it was Charming I saw, giving the order to fire, when you freely (and foolishly) assumed that after Henry, the responsibility fell on me to offer my body for the prospect. Of course it did. Why wouldn't it? Logically, it was my turn. You never stopped to consider the possibility that my plans might have been a little different from yours, did you?

Our fight that night reached as far as Henry's ears upstairs. (His room is up in the clouds, just like his head.) The following afternoon you said to me, "If that's how it needs to be then fine, I'm willing to give birth to your second child."

The way you said it – such lackluster defeat – it hurt me, Emma. It hurt me more than anything else you had ever told me. You had unconditionally accepted it as your duty, some sort of dignified godsent favor to me that you would carry that child. That was the last time we spoke that day, and in the evening, I took the liberty of sleeping in Henry's chambers and letting you have our quarters to yourself. Ever the perceptive young man, he picked right up on that.

"Emma didn't want to tuck me in?" he asked.

What do you even reply to that? I said: "Of course she did, sweetie. It's just that the two of us… we had a little disagreement regarding your sibling. Nothing to concern yourself with. We just can't decide which one should be the mother."

"You'll both be our moms in the end, like you are now. Does it really matter?"

"No. No, of course not. But it comes down to a great commitment. It's a very complicated process to have new life grow inside of you. Emma and I just need some time to think on it."



"But mom," he squeezed my hand meaningfully, "Emma's always been alone."

The child made me understand and in turn, I will make you remember that when you had our son, you were alone, and when they were tearing your heart out from the weeping bundle in your arms, then too were you alone, so there was no reason for you to not be alone this time around.



"You said you would carry 'my' child. I'm correcting you."

"Come to bed."

It should have been me crawling underneath this burden on my shoulders. Sometimes it occurs to me that you must have known all along how it would end, which is why you made the decisions you made.

But then you ran.