"We are going, and that's fuckin' that."
Lemme preface that remark.
I spent the morning thinking of ways to explain to Libby why we could not go on a trip to the other side of the world. It was tricky, lemme tell you. Not because I couldn't come up with reasons - that was bloody easy - but because I couldn't think of ways to phrase them which Libby would understand. Or accept. A reasonable tone and a slow, measured delivery sounds good on paper, but it's kinda lame when you practice in a mirror.
I needn't have bothered. No tone, no delivery, would have mattered to my wife.
When I went to visit Libby, I found that she was gone. Daena informed me that Libby had shambled off not twenty minutes prior, and with Celine off somewhere and no one else around, Daena hadn't been able to deliver a panicked message about her departure. Because, you know, all that stuff about being stuck to a tree.
Following Libby was not difficult. She had a head start - but she was also carrying an enormous stomach, apparently cradled in her arms. Lots of people watched her march steadfastly down Pubton's streets, up to one of the gates, and out into the forest… towards the work site, where a cadre of her assistants have not-so-secretly been assembling the Dauphine. Edmund, who had tried briefly to reason with Libby and gotten a punch for his troubles, told me that my wife had a hammer strapped to her belt.
My first thought was of Monday. Of a hammer to the stomach. I dashed off in pursuit, the worst notions in my head.
I caught Libby before she got to the work site. She was attempting to move through the brush, and her stomach had gotten wedged between two redwood trees. She was trying, gently, to get herself out again.
"Libby!" I yelled, running up behind her. "The hell you doing out here, lady? Are you crazy? You should be laying down!"
Libby grunted and twisted, wincing at the bite of bark on her bloated skin. "I'm… ngh… goin' to work. Got shit to do, and I don't trust those lunkheads I trained to do it right. Get me outta this damned boxed canyon thing, will you?"
I chuckled, despite myself. "A boxed canyon doesn't have a way out. Two trees do."
"Not for a fatass like me," she grumbled. "Hurry up."
With time, and patience, and no small amount of spit, we managed to extricate Libby from the trees. She fell onto the ground with the ponderous grace of a whale performing a ballet, and we sat for a while in silence, watching the trees.
"Leaves gonna fall soon," she commented, once she had her breath back.
"Might bury me."
"I'd say so."
"Probably means I should get up 'n get the Dauphine done. So we can get outta here."
I braced myself. "Libby, I don't think we're goin' anywhere after all."
I expected shock. Rebuke. Refusal. Instead I got cold silence.
I fidgeted, waiting for a response, then continued. "This… this belly of yours, it… it's got me worried, y'know? I don't wanna risk hurtin' the baby. Or you. At least until it's born, I… I figure we should stay here. 'n…"
"'n maybe…" I took a deep gulp. "Maybe you should stay in Pubton anyway. S'probably safer here."
Again, I expected an explosion. Instead, Libby reached over, touched my face, and kissed me. I flitted on little butterfly wings for a few seconds, happy and content.
Immediately thereafter, she headbutted me.
"How's that feel, huh?" She cracked her knuckles. Her hands barely managed to meet over the bulk of her stomach. "Feel weak or vulnerable at all? I'm a tough bitch, Dragomir. I'm goin', you're goin', baby's goin', we're all goin'. No delays."
I rubbed my forehead and waited a few seconds for the trees to blur back to normalcy. There were way too many trees. "B… but what -"
"We are going, and that's fuckin' that."
The finality in her voice set the issue to rest. We are, indeed, going.
Libby spent the remainder of the day shouting orders at her workers from the shade of a tree. She wanted to join in on the action, but I reminded her that she didn't stand a chance in hell of climbing up the side of the Dauphin in her present condition.
And you know what? In retrospect? I think her going is the right call. Because this pregnancy, it's not the same as the others. And I'm not even talking about the heft of her belly. I think… I think this one's going to be normal.
When Libby was pregnant with Eve, she was a psychotic she-monster. She nearly ripped my head off in the wake of her discomfort. When Libby was pregnant with Grayson, she was almost abnormally calm, as though constantly drugged. With this kid, though… this apparently huge bugger… she's normal. She's just Libby. Cranky, work-oriented, tough-as-nails. And I think she realizes that, because as far as I can tell, she has no further intention of sticking a knife in her belly. Thank the gods for it.
Though the fact that she went so far in the first place…
I still have concerns. But I'll keep them buried for now, because… ow… she's got one hell of a headbutt.