Everyone expected that once the twins were delivered Chandler’s belly would shrink back to its normal size. Not that it’s normal size was small–Chandler, like a lot of the natural-born Boughs, does have a nice potbelly even when he’s not experiencing a sympathetic pregnancy with his wife.
But strangely enough, the bloating continued.
Chandler tried to suck his belly in.
He tried to make himself useful, keeping busy to keep his mind off of his sympathy.
But the gas pains were really hard to ignore!
“Sal! I knew it was a mistake of me to eat those sparks from that excellent cake! Sparks are ornamental, right? Eesh!”
With four adults and an entire line of tombstones’ worth of ghosts, little Doug Fir and baby Tamarind received lots and lots of love.
Salix often sat in the same spot where Aspen had sat, there in that family kitchen that was the heart of the home.
She didn’t worry about Chandler. She knew his complex would resolve itself in time.
She was too happy thinking of the future of their babies. Maybe one of them would roll goofball! Maybe even both!
Chandler’s mom dropped by.
“I’m a little worried about you, son,” she said. “You know why we just ate salad at home, right? It was to avoid situations like this. A little time on the treadmill. That’s all I’m saying. Such a thing called exercise. And moderation. Eat in moderation. Salad, ok?”
But Chandler really was worried. He always knew he had a really strong imagination. And what he imagined usually seemed more real than what was real. And what he imagined could always affect how he felt.
But the sparks? And the weird churnings and turnings?
If this didn’t let up, he was afraid he was going to have to have it checked out. By a doctor. That’s how worried he was.
Then one night, while he was making his way to the observatory, with a flashing pain, he realized that that had been no dream.
True, he often couldn’t tell between dream and reality. But that night. That event. That–whatever it was–had been real.
And that meant that this whatever-it-is within him… must be real, too.
And it really must be ready to come out because it really hurt like heck.
When he got downstairs, he described his pains to Salix.
“That sounds like labor,” she said.
“It is,” he said.
“It wasn’t a dream,” he said. “I guess that thing that happens that lets guys have babies? I guess that really happened. That wasn’t my subconscious being brilliant. That was me, being a plum and getting abducted. And now I gotta pay for that joy ride in space.”
“Well,” he said, looking on the bright side, “I always did–ouch. Want to experience–oooh! What is was like–Aaah! To carry life–Eeesh! Inside OF MEEEEEE!”
Chandler remembered to breathe. He remembered everything they’d learned at Lamaze class together.
The pain wasn’t so bad, now that he knew what it was–what it had been all along. A new life!
It was a beautiful aqua baby!
A daughter. His daughter. He named her onezero. onezero Adam, because Adam is his last name, and it is symbolic, too, of a first settler in a new land, which is what this little daughter is, the first alien baby born here in Oasis Springs.
He couldn’t believe how beautiful she was!
“Oh, baby,” said Salix, when she held her. “Welcome. Welcome home.”