March 27, 2016

In Which Rona Damns the Cosmic Dice

April 23, 1199

When Hilla had died, Rona recalled Riona saying something about God playing dice--who lived, who died, completely random, no consideration of character or potential or anything else. Rona didn't doubt the existence of God, but as she'd grown older, she'd become increasingly unconvinced of his interest in the lesser beings he allegedly loved. Surely it wouldn't have taken much effort on the part of an all-knowing, all-powerful deity to direct chance happenings with justice and merit in mind? A god who played dice was either too lazy or too apathetic to be much of a god at all.

Her gentle, soft-hearted sister-in-law who'd never done anyone wrong in her life--who'd suffered in patient silence as Rona's brother had learned to love her--deserved a better roll.

Abrich, at least, hadn't blamed it on the baby. Some men did--men who ought to have gone in place of their wives, frankly. Rona thought her brother no more perfect than any sister thought her brother, but Abrich was at least good enough to realize that Meraleene's death was no one's earthly fault. He was good enough to love Meraleene's baby, as Meraleene had to her last breath.

"Cladelia took the children back to Mother's place," Rona muttered as Abrich rubbed his daughter's tiny back. "I'll stay here tonight. Ashe will bring Rilla over; I'll nurse her and your baby both."

Her brother sighed. He hadn't spoken much since he'd said his goodbyes to his wife. There hadn't been much to say. "Are you sure? I can find someone else if you'd rather not."

"It's no trouble. I'm here now, and I can stay as long as you need me." Her own youngest was only a few weeks old. That was the only part of all of this that could be fairly called fortunate.

"Thank you, then." Prompted by a small yawn, Abrich lowered the baby into her crib, eyes on her even after he'd pulled away. "I know I should probably name her for Meraleene's mother, but I'd rather name her for Meraleene herself. I... I think she ought to have some piece of her mother with her always, and the name would be something."

That, and it wouldn't have been right--naming Meraleene's last child for the woman Abrich had struggled for so long to let go of. Riona, who shared her name with Meraleene's mother. Another lousy roll of the cosmic dice. "I think you're right, though she'll have more than just the name."

"If the dead live on in any form, yes." He turned away from the crib as Rona stepped toward him, but his neck moved stiffly, as if it ached to look away. "Rona, do you think Meraleene forgave me? For wasting all those years before we finally fell in love?"

Rona closed her eyes. She'd liked Meraleene, but they hadn't been each other's closest friend. She certainly hadn't been Meraleene's confidante. But, if she listened to her gut, she didn't think Meraleene the type to hold a grudge. "I don't know if 'forgiveness' would be the right word in that situation, but I don't think she bore you any ill will."

"I wouldn't blame her if she did." Abrich glanced back down at the baby--little Meraleene--before pulling Rona in for a hug. "No one deserves to go like that--giving their life bringing someone else into the world, when it ought to be a happy occasion."

"No," Rona agreed. "I'm so sorry, Abrich."

NEXT CHAPTER:

3 comments:

Van said...

Chocolate.

Ann said...

Agreed. It makes everything better.

Van said...

Yep.