Another drabble from a tumblr prompt: Matthew asking about brothers and sisters.
"Mother, why don't I have any brothers or sisters?"
She looked up from her book, she had to admit in quite some surprise, to where her little boy sat on the floor by her feet, playing with a toy train set his father had brought home for him.
"Do you want any brothers and sisters?" she asked him in return.
A quizzical look crossed his little face for a few moments as he seriously contemplated the issue.
"No," he concluded, after a moment, "Not really."
She smiled indulgently at him, shaking her head a little.
"Why ask then?" she wondered aloud, smiling down at him.
Another serious, thoughtful frown developed.
"Everybody else has them," he reflected, "All my cousins do."
She sighed a little. Yes, that was certainly true. Her brother had four children already and both of Reginald's sister's had growing families.
She was not at all given to not answering her son's questions, even when they were difficult. She had no doubt that he would be able to see straight through any invention or concealment on her behalf. His face was earnest and innocent as he looked up at her, and she smiled kindly down at him.
"Do you want to come and sit on my knee and we'll have a talk about it?" she asked.
"Alright," he replied, and scrambled up onto his little legs.
She lifted him up and sat him down on her knee, an arm hugging his waist, her other hand smoothing over his brilliant blonde hair.
"Your father and I wanted very much for you to have brothers and sisters," she told him, "But it wasn't as easy as we thought it was going to be."
"Why not?" he asked her, his voice quiet and a little frightened.
She always knew she was going to have to tell him one day.
"Having babies is a difficult thing," she told him carefully, "It hurts a lot and lots of things can go wrong. And for your father and I things kept going wrong."
He was very quiet. She had a feeling that he wanted to ask questions but didn't dare to. Her son had always had a natural sensitivity, perhaps he could tell that it was difficult for her to tell him this. She smiled and planted a gentle kiss beside his ear. She didn't want him to be afraid to ask her anything.
"What is it, my love?" she prompted him.
"What was wrong?" he asked, his voice very small.
She took a deep breath.
"Twice I was going to have a baby and they didn't live long enough to be born. And once," she breathed again, willing herself to keep her voice level, "Once you had a sister. She was born too soon and she only lived for a week."
Matthew was very quiet and she knew she had profoundly shocked him. She began to wonder if she had been right to tell him.
"I wanted to call her Emily," she told him gently, "She's buried in our garden, under the rose bush."
"Is that why you sit there sometimes by yourself?" he asked at last.
"Yes," she told him, "I didn't know you'd ever seen me."
She felt him nod a little. She hugged him tightly to her and kissed his head again.
"Have I upset you darling?" she asked.
"No," came his quiet, brave little voice. Then, in a self-consciously serious and studied tone that she was sure he must have picked up from his father, "I'm sorry, Mother."
"Whatever for, my love?"
"For hurting you."
It took her moment to catch on to what he meant.
"When you were born?" she asked, a little incredulously, not able to stop herself laughing, "Oh, Matthew, my darling, don't think twice about it. It was worth every moment." She looked down at the little boy in her arms, "I would go through it a thousand time for you."
He snuggled against her.
"I love you, Mother."
The sound of the words almost made her weep. They were ones she seldom heard said aloud but which she knew implicitly were true every time they saw one another. Still, it was wonderful to hear them.
"I love you too, Matthew. Very much. Now, off you go and play with your train."
With a bit of spring, he jumped off her lap, back onto the floor with his toys. She watched him for a moment. He turned back to looked at her.
"Mother?" he asked shyly, "Will you take me to meet my sister one day?"
She was so startled by the question that it brought tears to her eyes.
"One day, my darling, if you'd like that."
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