November 7, 2013

In Which Nora Does the Greater Kindness

October 9, 1183

"The change?" If Nora's sister had been at all prone to stuttering or not speaking clearly, she would have had to ask her to repeat that. Maybe her own hearing was starting to go. "Is she sure?"

"She and her mother both." Alsina kicked at the couch's frame. In a better circumstance, Nora ought to have scolded her--the piece was a remnant of Lady Alina's collection--but she'd let it slide today. "I mean, she said it's probably still the transition phase, so I might not be done with courses entirely, but... still!" Another kick, this one casting the couch slightly askew. Not unimpressive. "I'm thirty-four! I'm not old enough for this! Hell, Thetis is older than me, and she's expecting a baby in January!"

"People's bodies are different." Nora gestured toward the other couch cushion, but Alsina didn't take it. She couldn't blame her. Anger did as it pleased, and sometimes, anger just wanted to keep standing.

And allowing that anger the seethe? It was a greater kindness than trying to force happiness.

"Remember when I got my first course, and you were so upset because I got mine at twelve while yours didn't come until you were fourteen? Well, I was upset because I thought I'd have to put up with mine for longer than you would. So much for thinking that now."

Nora squirmed, all too mindful of the belt beneath her shift and the cloth pad between her thighs. She was eight years her sister's elder and her courses still maintained the regularity of her twenties. She'd always assumed that by the time this happened to Alsina, she would have been able to tell her sister what to expect. Now their positions would be reversed, and who knew if Alsina would ever make her peace with that. "I'm sorry you're going through this."

"Don't be. It's God I'm pissed at. Well, God and Aldhein." Alsina scowled, but only a second. Her mouth softened to resigned, melancholy frown. "Is that why Aldhein slept with Aydelle? Do you think he could sense it? That I was getting old and dried up?"

"What?" Nora shook her head, brows in knots. She may not have known a thing about the change, but she did know absurdity when she heard it. "You're not old and dried up!"

Alsina sniffed. "Well, you would say that. You're my sister. You're supposed to try to make me feel better, even when it's bound to be futile."

"I mean it, though. Besides, even if you were, how would Aldhein know? Men are idiots when it comes to our bodies!"

"Then why did he do it?"

If only Nora had an answer to that. She wasn't sure there was one. "I don't know. But don't blame yourself for his lack of judgment."

"She is younger than me. Maybe every man just needs a younger woman, and I should just live with that."

"No, they don't. Younger doesn't mean better." And Aydelle was barely younger than Alsina anyway. "It's rotten luck that two shitty things had to happen to you one after another. Two independent shitty things. If you connect one to the other, that'll cause more misery than the sum of both parts." Not that misery had much of a record for obeying the laws of mathematics, but it was the best enforcement she could offer.

Well, that, and maybe the one thing that no one ever said when things went wrong, and the one thing she'd spent many a depressing day wishing someone just would.

She stood and up and pulled her sister in for a hug. "It's nothing you did, and don't feel guilty about feeling cheated. Don't feel like you have to be all right with it. Some things are shit. Anyone who doesn't feel down when things are shit is in serious denial, or they never cared enough to be able to tell the difference."



Van said...

There is not enough chocolate in the world.

Anonymous said...

:( Sorry Van.

And ... *sigh* Alsina. Nora's right, she doesn't deserve this, certainly not right on top of finding out that Aldhein's having a baby wit Aydelle. Talk about adding insult to injury ...

Nora is also right that Alsina shouldn't try to imagine that the two of these things are connected in any way other than proximity in time. There's no way Aldhein would be able to tell that Alsina was approaching menopause. Heck, I doubt it'd make that much of a difference to him in terms of being sexually attracted to Alsina. He doesn't strike me as a guy who would want loads and loads of kids, so part of him might be more inclined to see the advantages of it than the disadvantages.

That being said, if he doesn't whip into Most Supportive Husband Ever mode as soon as he sees Alsina, I hope somebody kicks him.

And as sad as this is for Alsina (and possibly Alhein) ... I'm just glad it wasn't anything worse.

Van said...

Alsina is having an awful couple of months. :S

No, I doubt that whether or not Alsina is done with her baby-making years makes much of a difference to Aldhein. He has four living kids and another on the way, and--unless he could somehow get the two dead ones back--I don't think he needs any more. That, and the menopause doesn't change who Alsina is as a person, and while Aldhein is obviously capable of making huge mistakes, I don't think ignoring that fact would be one he'd make.

But yeah, he's going to have to be on his best behaviour now. Better than best.

Winter said...

There is never enough chocolate. Ever.

I'm with Morganna in that I'm glad it's nothing worse than menopause. Some of the other possibilities are things that are still harming and even killing women now. And, as much as it sucks to be the outlying case, it could be a good thing. Once she comes to terms with it all, Alsina has a lot more time than most to dive into life after the change.

The coincidence couldn't get much worse between the two. It's good that Alsina has a sensible, non-baby-rabies woman to talk to in Nora. Aldhein definitely needs to step up and be the MSHE after all this, but Alsina had to hear some sense from another party who can understand where she is. Aldhein definitely didn't cheat on her because her womb sounded last call, but when you're hurting, you'll look for reasons and answers anywhere.

Van said...

As far as I'm aware, no one ever died from menopause, so this did beat out several scarier alternatives--and one day, Alsina may look back and realize that.

Her youngest will be five next year, so Alsina has had time to develop occupations that don't revolve around babies and pregnancy; her life is far from over. Also, her eldest just aged up to adult and he'll likely marry within the next few years, and her stepdaughter will probably have more children, so if Alsina does feel any burning baby-shaped voids, there will be grandchildren (and from the looks of it, grandparents have more fun than parents anyway).

But yeah, Alsina didn't need the extra stress, and she's bound to be upset about this for a while. I don't think Alsina wanted too many more kids, but she didn't think she was done.

And yes, she probably couldn't have asked for a better confidante than Nora. Nora is pretty down to earth, and she's generally empathetic, so she'd get where Alsina's coming from and she knows how to best avoid making things worse. That said, Nora herself is very much done with babies. If she were the one starting menopause instead of Alsina, her main emotion would probably be relief. So she'd get that it's tough, but she knows there's more to life than making people.

If Aldhein even has a concrete reason for cheating in his own head, it would have nothing to do with Alsina's condition, even if he could somehow sense it before she did. He's definitely going to need to step it up.

Ekho said...

Geez, I don't know how Nora got through this conversation. One of my fears is that my little sister (there's over ten years between us) will have children before me, selfish and all I guess but when something like that occurs (younger sibling reaching that point before elder sibling) it's really hard to comprehend, but Nora dealt with it really well in my opinion. Luck for Alsina she has had the chance to have children, maybe focusing on them and bringing them up and looking forward to grandchildren will help her.
As for Aldhein 'sensing' what was going on, I sincerely doubt it, however, there are reported cases of previously declared 'barren' women falling pregnant once they engage in a sexual relationship with the 'right' partner, ya know, genetics / pheromones, all them lovely gifts of nature.

Van said...

I think Nora decided after Thetis was born that she wasn't having any more kids, whether her body cooperated or not, so she might have been looking forward to the day she no longer had to bother with herbs. But she's only forty-two, so it's probably a few years away yet.

Alsina does have three surviving children, and their ages vary significantly enough that they'll all be dealing with different things at different times, so she's not done with motherhood just yet, though a few hobbies that are just for her wouldn't hurt either.

Alsina may still have a handful of ovulations left, so it wouldn't be the strangest thing in the world if she did get pregnant again. But if she wanted to try for one last baby, it would have been nice if she could have found this out at a time when she hadn't just found out her husband cheated on her. :S