Grandeur splayed, a perfect hand holding bliss. Suffering, a foreign concept save for pinpricks. One of the girls falling, scraping a knee, stepping on a sharp rock. Kissed, made better, soon forgotten in the joy of play.
She, leaning against his shoulder, takes his hand and puts it on her belly. She’s such an active baby. Or he, no way to be sure. But Tom tells her he knows. How can he? Says he can feel her. Always her. Never a hint of doubt. “You still convinced we’re having daughter?” Rena asks.
Tom sighs a quick laugh, “Yes.”
Wyo tries skipping a rock. It plunks into the stream. Ari laughs. Doubles over, falls into the thick grass. Wyo scowls and stomps up the stream bank. Still laughing, Ari picks up a rock and skips it past her sister. It hops along the water a half dozen times. Wyo looks back, huffs, drops her shoulders, groans.
“I feel like they couldn’t be alike if they wanted to.” Rena says.
“Mm, like they repel each other.”
Ari goes to her sister’s side. There’s a conversation. Ari mimes the rock skipping motion. Wyo picks up a rock, tries to mimic her sister, “Like this?” Ari’s shakes her head, “No, no,” picks one up herself, “like this, see?” Wyo tries another, Ari nods. “Wait, here, watch me. See how…Like that.” Then Wyo tries. The rock skips three times. She beams.
“They’re not going to like her too much.” Tom says.
Rena isn’t sure what he means. Unless, “Why would you say that?” But it’s a silly question. He only says what he knows. “Why not?”
He lifts his chin, “they’re best friends. This one’ll be a wedge. It’ll be them against her.”
“What’re we supposed to do?” Rena puts her hand over Tom’s, looks at her belly. “I don’t like it when you talk like this. So sure of darkness.”
“It isn’t darkness, love,” he smiles, “just life.” He lays back on the grass, closes his eyes, fills his lungs with summer meadow air. “I’ll teach her about the Pressure. She’ll be fine.”
“Why not teach Ari and Wyo too?”
“I’ve tried. They don’t care.”
Rena nudged him, “Oh please, Mr. Every-Problem-Has-a-Solution, giving up that easy? Two little girls say no and that’s that?”
“Try again. Play with them. Show them something.”
Tom sat up. Sure, why not? Because they weren’t his flesh and blood? No. Alright, he’d try again. He had plenty of time. He wouldn’t be able to start teaching their sister for at least five years anyways.