August 5, 2013

In Which Xeta Gets a Push from an Unexpected Source

May 3, 1182

Xeta had been thrilled when she'd missed that course. She'd been over the moon at that first bout of morning sickness. She might have danced about when Arydath had confirmed her suspicions had she not worried that wasn't good for the baby. As her middle had grown and her dresses ceased to fit, she'd grown happier and happier.

But now Celina had been born, and she couldn't claim that feeling any more. She loved her new little daughter, and she loved having a baby in her arms again, but that satisfaction was not quite happiness. Something was missing, and once again, she suspected that something was a new hint of proto-life clinging to the walls of her womb.

What was wrong with her? Was it just her body and its mysterious network of signals, thrown out-of-whack by the pregnancy and subsequent birth? Her heart, knowing what it had and still greedy for more? Or maybe it was just her. She couldn't guess at the reason, but maybe there wasn't one. Perhaps she was simply deficient.

Celina yawned, small and cute and still unfulfilling, so Xeta lowered her into the crib and sighed. Arydath had advised moving the crib into Xeta and Jadin's bedroom for the first couple weeks, and though it was awkwardly placed and the nursery was just a door away, Xeta had been thankful for the suggestion. Had the baby been in a different room, even just at night, the perceived lack may have further swollen her void.

God, what is wrong with me?

Someone knocked. Xeta stiffened. Jadin would have just strode in, and most men's knocks she knew would have been firmer in any case. It must have been her maid, or Nora or one of the twins. "Who is it?"

"It's Camaline." Odd. It was a little early in the day for visitors, and Camaline had never been a frequent caller in any case. "Do you mind if I come in? I can leave if you prefer."

If Xeta preferred. Camaline was not an inconsiderate person, Xeta didn't think, but she was the sort who got her way and everyone else just went along with it. If Camaline had ridden all the way from the next shire so early in the morning, then she, at least, preferred that she stay. "Come in."

She heard the door open and shortly, Camaline appeared from behind the wall that separated Xeta's reading alcove from the sleeping quarters. In her current state, a guilty feeling came with the sight of the other woman. Camaline had one child--one. She'd been married almost seven years before Prior was born, and nearly four years later, Xeta had yet to hear any rumor of a strange craving or thickening waistline. What right did Xeta have to mope about her four healthy--er, mostly healthy, considering Dalston--children while poor Camaline had only one and might never have another?

"Kind of a masculine decor in here."

Xeta tried to smile. She'd never much cared, but something else to think about couldn't hurt. "Well... it is the heir's quarters. Sort of like Sparron's room at Tetran, I'd imagine." She recalled a little too late that Sparron and Camaline kept separate quarters. "Sorry. I forgot..."

"It's fine. I was just making small-talk anyway. Sorry, I'm not good at that." Camaline, apologizing? Xeta doubted Camaline had apologized for anything in her life. "Xeta, the reason I'm here is... well, I heard Jadin talking to Sparron, and he's really worried about you. And now I'm worried too."

Were they close enough to be worried? She supposed they were sort of friends, so far as Camaline had friends, but... "You are?"

"Yes. I... I know I can't really understand what you're going through, and there are a lot of things we don't know about our own bodies and minds, and that my speculating can't help, but I just want you to know that you're really great." Heh? That really didn't sound like Camaline. "You're clever and you're pretty and you've always been very kind. I don't know if this is it or even part of it, but you don't deserve to feel like you're reduced to your womb and what comes out of it. No one does. I don't know what it's like to be feeling how you're feeling, but I do know what it's like to be under that kind of pressure."

And there it was, the guilt again. Xeta swallowed. "You'll have more..."

"I won't." Camaline's pretty violet eye rested on Celina briefly, but disappeared beneath a prolonged blink. "I can't have children. Arydath confirmed it a few years ago. Prior is Sparron's bastard; I encouraged the conception and faked a pregnancy in tandem."

It was a lucky thing Xeta had already set the baby down, or she might have dropped her. Now she really felt guilty. "Oh my God."

"Please don't tell anyone."

That was the issue? "No, of course not. I... I'm sorry. I must seem so petty..."

"No, you're not petty. And it's not a big deal. We love Prior, but neither of us like kids much; we just needed an heir."

"But--"

"No buts. You're not petty, and I'm sorry if I made it seem like I thought you were. I just..." Camaline sighed. Xeta frowned; she didn't think she'd heard Camaline sigh before. "I shouldn't have brought it up. I just wanted you to know that how many kids you have or when you have them or how you feel afterward doesn't make you any more or less of a person. I never wanted kids, but for a long time, I still felt... worthless. I know I did a good job of hiding it, but I did--like it was the only thing I was put on the earth to do and I just couldn't do it. I don't know what I would have done if I'd married someone less understanding, or if my parents had found out and sent me to a nunnery. This one thing, this one thing I didn't even want, just eating away at any self-esteem I had...

"But I've come to terms with it now. I know that I'm not worthless, and I'm here for some other purpose. I haven't found it yet, but I will, one day. And you will too."

"Do you think so?"

"I know so. And you'll have more children too, if you want--but you don't need to feel as though you have to have them."

"And this... this empty feeling..." An ache in her arm throbbed and she took to rubbing it. She had a lot of aches and pains, but she rarely tended to them. "Do you think it'll go away?"

"I hope so. Maybe talk to Arydath when you have a chance, or Old Hilla, but for now, just... just take care of yourself."

Camaline took Xeta's hands in her own; she squeezed just hard enough to get the heart pumping just a little more noticeably. "Can you do that for me?"

Xeta nodded. She'd known that she had people who cared, but there was something about concern from an unexpected source that gave her just a little bit of a push. "I can do that."

"And you'll talk to someone about this?"

She nodded again. "All right."

"Good." Her friend let go of her hands, but kept clinging to her smile. "Now, while Celina's taking her nap, Penna will draw you a nice hot bath, and then you can get dressed and we'll find some way to take your mind off of this, all right?"

NEXT CHAPTER:

9 comments:

Van said...

End of long weekend. :(

Ann said...

D'awwwwwww! Camaline you are awesome! To go so far as to reveal your own secret to help another. I think you might be my new hero!

Listen to her, Xeta, and take care of yourself! *hopes she'll get better soon*

Van said...

Camaline can be cold, but when she's nice, she goes all out. Lucky that Xeta has no reason to tell (and I think Camaline knew she would be sympathetic).

But yes, hopefully the added concern of someone Xeta's not particularly with will help her come to terms with it and consult someone who might know more.

morgaine2005 said...

OH MY GOD. I never expected this from Camaline. Never! That just ... wow ...

That was a total Geneva-like moment there. Yes. Geneva might have been independent and a free spirit to the point of being very selfish and hurting others, but when she did good, DAMN, she did good. Camaline, you rock!!

(Also, can I borrow her? I think Delyth might need to hear this talk ...)

Still, I hope Xeta doesn't go feeling petty for what she's going through. :( This sounds like some kind of depression to me (perhaps postpartum?), and she can't help that.

And I hope that she talks to Arydath soon. She can get help! She doesn't have to keep feeling like this!

Van said...

This was definitely a Geneva moment for Camaline! Those two are both very different and very alike. The heart of tarnished gold runs in the family, it seems. ;)

Wait, are you actually asking? I'd be happy to package up the Sim for you if you like (BodyShop didn't like the last time I tried to package up Sims, but I could just send you the package file if that issue persists?). Delyth could absolutely use this talk from someone who went through the exact same thing and has managed to overcome it (though, granted, Camaline sort of lucked out in terms of situation, and didn't really want kids anyway).

Xeta's totally depressed. And sometimes, depressed people sort of blame themselves for being depressed, especially if a lot of people around them don't really understand depression. Poor girl may just be focusing on how she "ought to" be happy. :(

But yes, hopefully she will be talking to Arydath, or some other as-close-to-expert-as-she-can-find, and soon!

morgaine2005 said...

No, don't worry, I wasn't actually asking. :) She'd need to be Camaline, with all her memories and history, not just the Camaline-Sim. I think porting her out of her universe to give a talk to another character might be a little cruel. ;)

Van said...

It would be quite a challenge, linking the universes like that.

Winter said...

This was great! Camaline is just the right sort of person to hear this from, exactly because she's not a warm-and-fuzzy, super-close friend. Definitely a Geneva-esque moment there to expose the secret about Prior to help Xeta. Camaline may not have gone through Xeta's exact problem, but she's standing (near) where Xeta needs to be. Hooray for them both!

Van said...

Thanks! And yes, that was my reasoning too; she knows Xeta, and neither of them have anything against each other, but they're distant enough that Xeta won't assume she's indulging her (though I suspect they'll get much closer after this). They could both always use another friend as well. :)