I was all over the place today.
Queenie gone. Kennedy gone. But Asa… Asa had returned.
My anger at Midnight has yet to subside, but she helped Asa out of the doorway and into our bedroom below-ground. A fine young gentleman – Travis Stoll, he said his name was – aided them with the limp body of my husband. Midnight tended to him as best as she could, fidgeting with medical equipment and maintaining her calm as she fixed him up. I sat by in the room, doing as she told me (albeit, a little curtly), until she was done and left the room with nod.
Asa resumed consciousness after about two hours, after which I fed him some hot soup that Midnight had left in a flask and some water.
“Where’s Travis?” was the first thing he asked.
“Being entertained by the girls. I’m fine, by the way,” I said, “Thank you for asking.”
“Georgia, you know that…”
“I know, I know,” I turned a little, putting a wet cloth to his forehead.
I wonder if my resentment towards Thomas and Midnight’s passion is actually jealousy. So they fought a lot, but they were perfectly comfortable with that and with each other. Everything worked for them. Mine and Asa’s relationship… it had a serious no Public Display of Affection policy.
“How have the girls been, Georgia?” said Asa, after a while.
I hesitated, wondering whether or not to tell him of recent events.
Another thing that dismayed me. Midnight never feared telling Thomas the truth, and the same was for the vice versa. For people so sharp, they could be awfully blunt about everything.
“Asa…” I said, the hesitation clear in my voice, “Queenie… Kennedy…”
“Oh, how is my little Kenny?” he said, brightening up on hearing her name.
“There’s no good way to say this, dear,” I said, “But Queenie and Kennedy have both gone missing.”
He blinked. And didn’t say anything.
“Queenie got involved in business she shouldn't have and she went to sort it out,” I tried to explain, “But Kennedy followed her out.”
Asa’s face became suddenly angry, “Where’s Midnight?” he rasped.
I went out to call her.
She looked pale and morbid as she stepped into the room and shut the door behind her.
There was a lot of muffled shouting and angry bickering – more so on Asa’s part. But then there came a roar that made his howling sound like a puppy whimpering:
“For a man who couldn’t’ve been less involved in the well-being of his children, you’re quite the critic!”
I noticed that Asa didn’t say anything back.
I went in, slightly unnerved but angry at Midnight all the same.
“The man just came back from war,” I said.
She rounded on me, “That’s supposed to be his excuse?”
“It’s a legitimate one.”
“Oh, is it?” I turned to Asa, “How many times have you been given leave to go home, Asa? How many times in the last twelve bloody years?”
He didn’t reply.
“I made that army,” Midnight went on, pointing at the ground, “I stationed that army. Hell, I practically raised every soldier in that army – and I know for bloody, God damn fact that they would have let you go home if you asked them. But what got in the way, eh? Politics? Excess adrenaline? The bloody nancy-boy you walked in with? You deserted the army, Asa! When all you could have done was ask!”
“And I never want to go back,” Asa said quickly.
“O-ho, you won’t be able to, mate! They’ll gut you for walking away, if you go back!”
“This was not the subject of this argument, Midnight,” I said promptly.
“So what’s it about?” she asked, “My irresponsibility t’wards your,” she pointed at both myself and Asa, “kids?”
“You’re a bad influence!” I said, ignoring her prodding, “You taught them to fight! You gave them hints and inclines to get into the kind of work you do! That’s all that happens in this house! Fights and broken things! And now, not one but two of our daughters are missing! Midnight, can you honestly tell yourself and us that you hold no responsibility for that? That you had no hand – in some way, shape or form – in the events that have currently taken place?”
Midnight stared at me for a long time, her eyes narrowed and breathing between her teeth, “I’m glad you feel that way. Maybe you never should have involved yourself with me, stepped into this house, had me aid you with your six children. I’ll pack my bags and head back to Normandy. My influence will touch your children no longer.”
“And what of your own children?”
She turned to walk out, “Clearly, I’m an incapable mother.”
Did I hear right, or had I heard her throat catch?
Midnight left the room, an eerie silence remaining in her wake.
* * * * *
I found it hard to believe that Midnight only needed two bags to take on her journey back to Normandy. She had told Zoe and Brynna that the rest of her possessions weren’t worth keeping and that they could share out all the things she left behind amongst themselves and the other girls.
They didn’t seem too happy about Midnight leaving.
Her daughters often came up to her and she would ask them what they would like when she got back.
I found her in the kitchen today, finishing off some laundry.
She hadn’t spoken to me since we had had the argument two days ago. Come to think of it… she hadn’t looked at me much. At all, for that matter. And, by the way she was rubbing the clothes against the washboard in such a sharp, jagged manner – she hadn’t seemed to let go of her anger either.
I’d had time to think about all that was said, and a thought had struck me the night before. It wasn’t a nice thought, but I had to ask.
“Midnight?” I said softly.
She didn’t reply, and didn’t look at me.
“When Tom asked for a boy…” she paused in her scrubbing, “Midnight, are you pregnant?”
She straightened, not turning to me, her hands going to her abdomen and said, “Go away.”
“Leave aside our argument for a moment and give me an answer.”
Midnight turned her head, and I saw it: in her face, in her eyes, as she said, “Not any more.”
I was rendered speechless for a moment, before saying, “When…?”
She mumbled, “The night before Queenie went missing.”
“Why didn’t… why didn’t you say anything?”
“Because I don’t let circumstance get in the way of doing what I have to do,” she sniffed and resumed her washing.
It reminded me of many things, that – the way she just left her home in Normandy to start a new one with us. And I had begrudged her because of it.
“Did Tom know?” I asked, crouching down next to her, putting a hand on her shoulder.
“Thomas always knows. He has a sixth-sense for those kind of things,” she replied, and laughed as her voice turned to a sob, “The night before he left, he licked my belly for good fortune. He’s always wanted a son, so badly…” she sniffed, and wiped her face with the back of her hand, “And now… now I don’t even know if he’s coming back. Probably not. He’s a pirate, not a marine.”
I was surprised. Having little respect for sailing, Midnight hardly ever made a distinction between the two.
“That’s no attitude to have…”
“A realistic one?” she said, “Why not?”
“Midnight, don’t leave.”
“But everything you said about everything I’ve done.”
“You know we didn’t mean all those things… Or at least, I didn’t… not all of them,” I said, hesitantly, “But you’re in no condition for a lonely journey, in any case. I’m sorry. Don’t go.”
She looked away from me, shrugging off my hand from her shoulder and didn’t say anything.