Our Child - A Fornax Story
|©2001 By Philip .J. Eggerding
Fornax Characters ©1999-2001 Matt J. McCullar
A song was there just beyond the tip of her cool nose pad. Blue Fornax could smell it, almost taste it. Yet, it would not come. Not even the title.
She twitched her furry ears and strummed the acoustic guitar one more time before laying it in the sand beside her. It was not an instrument she normally played in Fornax-the wildly popular band made up of herself and her four sisters-but it worked well enough for composing when she wasn't using a keyboard. She could have used a keyboard in the studio, but today, she had decided to try composing here by the water's edge, using the guitar. Though alone, she wasn't isolating herself. (None of the sisters liked that.) She was still within shouting distance of the house. She'd only hoped that trying something different would break her creative block.
Leaning forward, she wrapped her arms around her long furry legs and settled her chin on her knees-staring across the water to the hazy horizon. Though obscured by distance, it seemed far more focused that the present muddle in her mind. There was one thing about this whole situation she still couldn't accept, and it was inhibiting her music. Blue sighed and closed her eyes.
She would never bear children.
That's what the doctor had said after she almost died from internal bleeding. The infection that had ravaged her appendix and parts of her stomach and intestines had also destroyed her ovaries. Initially they thought her uterus had survived, but further examination had revealed scarring that made it useless. Ironically, Blue's illness had actually looked like a pregnancy.
And the whole ordeal had nearly destroyed her family.
No one except Trevor Sarnoff, the band's dalmatian producer, had believed her when she swore she wasn't pregnant. For three months, her sisters had harassed her, trying to break through her 'denial'. The rupturing of her intestines finally put an end to that.
It had almost put an end to her life, as well.
Some good had come from the experience, though. Since Blue and her sisters were identical siblings, it was possible that this condition could have happened to any one of them. So, for the first time in their lives, they had all gotten medical check-ups-unusual, since none of them liked doctors. They'd also learned about several different ratel medical conditions that could cause pregnancy-like symptoms. Some of them were fatal if not treated, and even a regular pregnancy had its hazards.
But again, this was something Blue would never need to worry about-and that's what was eating at her.
She would never have kits.
Startled by the small voice, Blue sat up quickly and turned to the sound. A little female puma, perhaps six years of age, stood there, clutching a small, stuffed bear-a blue one, with one button-eye missing. There was something familiar about the little kit's bewhiskered face.
"Bertinu," Blue replied, smiling, but puzzled. How had this little kit gotten onto well-secured private property?
"Who are you?" she continued.
"Um, yes. And what are you doing here, Kimi?" Blue now thought that there must have been a special group, or tour, that had been invited to North Shores. Someone just forgot to tell her.
"Just visiting," came Kimi's answer, confirming Blue's suspicions.
Before she could ask another question, the little puma pointed at her. "I seen you on the vids when you talked about your sickness." Quickly, the puma kit reached out a paw and placed it on Blue's belly. She held it there for a moment before withdrawing it and looking up with a sad expression. "Is it true you can't have babies anymore?"
Blue felt a moist prickling around her eyes and could only nod. Goddess! What cruel fate had sent this beautiful little kit to remind her of her own barren condition? Kimi must have noticed her distress, because the kit looked down in an embarrassed way. When she finally looked back up, her expression was determined, and she held out her blue bear.
"You can have Cupra. He doesn't cry like a real baby, but he's soft and gives good cuddles."
Blue couldn't help it. She buried her face in her arms. The pain she had been denying ever since she had learned of her infertility finally began to pour out in great sobs. Oh Goddess! Now that she knew she would never have any, the desire for offspring was greater than ever.
"I'm sorry! I'm sorry! Please don't cry," came a little wail. The puma kit was trying to wrap her little arms around Blue.
Instinctively, Blue opened her own arms and folded the little kit into a rocking embrace. For a long time, she simply held Kimi and continued to rock back and forth, stroking the little kit, all the while crying softly. Finally, when the black tears had slowed, she looked down at the kit and tried to give her an apologetic smile.
Kimi tentatively smiled back and touched Blues trembling lip. "I'm sorry I made you sad. Your a good cuddler-just like my matra was."
"Kimi?" Blue sniffed back her tears. "Where are your Matra and Patra?"
The little puma looked down and mumbled.
"They're gone. I don't have them anymore."
So, the visiting group was from an orphanage. All the sisters liked youngsters; so booking a visit from an orphanage was something they might do. But why hadn't they told Blue? Were they afraid she would be reminded of her condition? Blue felt anger stirring inside her, but then suppressed it. Perhaps the tour had just arrived, and her sors were coming for her even now. It wasn't often they were separated. She looked back at Kimi.
"Who are you with, Kimi?" she asked, wanting to know the name of the orphanage.
"They're up at the house," the kit answered, pointing. "It's just me and Cupra who came down here to see you. He's the only one from my old family I have now."
And she was willing to give him away? Blue shook her head; great waves of white hair swishing about her shoulders. She gave Kimi another gentle squeeze
"If Cupra is the only one you have now, then you must keep him."
Kimi looked down at the blue bear she held in the crook of her arm and shook her tawny, little head. She then wriggled out of Blue's lap and stood up, holding the bear out in front of her.
"Cupra says I'd know when it was time to give him away. He's smart about things like that. It's time. You need him."
Blue marveled at this little kit's determination. For one so young, this must be a very difficult decision. Yet here she was, holding out her most prized possession to Blue Fornax, a woman rich enough to afford just about anything in the world.
"No, Kimi, I couldn't."
The little puma's face fell and she looked down at her bear again.
"Cupra said this would be hard. He says you might not understand. He says grownups are like that sometimes. But, they can be taught to listen too. There is one thing he wants you to know right now."
"And what is that," Blue asked. This little one was so engaging-talking to Blue through her stuffed bear.
Kimi looked up and gave Blue a steady look that was almost too mature for her little frame.
"He says, love comes from inside you, but the one you love, doesn't have to."
Even as Blue looked back, puzzled, the little puma turned.
"They're calling. I got to go now," she said. Flashing a quick smile, she dropped her stuffed bear in Blue's lap and dashed off.
"Who's calling you, Kimi?" Blue asked, but the little puma had already disappeared up the path toward the residence. Funny, Blue hadn't heard anyone calling. Struggling to her feet, she tucked the stuffed bear under one arm and grabbed the guitar. Although mostly healed, she was still stiff and slow from her stay in the hospital. "And from too much pampering," she thought, a bit sourly, as she walked up the path Kimi had taken.
| Her sisters still fawned over
her because they felt guilty about not believing Blue
prior to her collapse. The problem was, it was getting to
be a bit much. Still, she had no wish to upset them by
refusing their attentions. She didn't want even a hint of
an argument starting. The ones over her false pregnancy
had been gruesome. Being honey badgers, they had torn
into each other something awful. Blue winced at the
memory of that dark time.
Still holding Kimi's bear under her arm, she walked through the veranda doors and into the spacious kitchen of the residence. She was half expecting to see a crowd of kids sitting around the table munching on some of Yellow's famous honey pie, but only Yellow was there, getting lunch ready.
"Where are all the kids?" asked Blue.
Yellow turned and gave her a puzzled look. "What kids?"
"The ones from the orphanage!"
"What orphanage? What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about the orphanage the kids are from!"
Blue hadn't meant to snap, but her glum feelings were back, now that Kimi wasn't brightening things. Yellow's continued to stare with a confused expression on her muzzle, and Blue felt her anger beginning to rise.
"What's the matter? Don't you believe me?"
Instantly, she wished she hadn't said that.
Yellow's expression flashed to anger at Blue's remark, but then turned to consternation and real hurt. She opened her mouth to say something, but then closed it.
"We'd better sit down, Blue. I . . . I promise I will listen, and I promise I will believe what you say."
Blue let out a little sigh and tried to calm down. Listening was a skill the sisters were trying to learn. It didn't guarantee bliss, but it helped avoid disastrous mistakes and misunderstandings.
When they had arranged themselves, Blue thought about Kimi and gave her sister a half-smile. "I just thought there were some kids visiting here from an orphanage. That's why I asked."
Yellow looked at her steadily before responding.
"I believe you, Blue. Now, will you believe me when I say that no orphan kids visited us today?"
Blue stared. How could that be? Kimi had as much as told her she was an orphan! Blue felt a knot of fear stirring in her belly. She so wanted children. Had she only imagined the darling little kit? Blue bit her lip, but then she felt the soft blue bear now clutched in her paws under the table.
No! Kimi was here - even if what Yellow was saying contradicted that. Blue then realized that this belief business needed to go both ways, or it wouldn't work. Even if Yellow wasn't making any sense, Blue had to trust her. There had to be some explanation for this.
"Yes. I . . . I believe you," she said.
Slowly, she pulled the slightly worn blue bear with the missing button eye from under the table.
"Oh, sor. That's so cute. She did give it to you!" Yellow stretched out her paw to touch the little bear. "I told her to keep it. I thought she needed it more, but she gave it to you anyway."
Blue looked back at her sister, even more puzzled.
"So, you know about Kimi?" she asked, thinking she'd get some explanation for the orphan's presence here today.
Yellow nodded. "I met her at the hospital. You were a bit groggy, so you might not remember them all, but loads of kids from the children's ward visited us when you were in the hospital. She was one of them, and she was one of the sicker ones. That's why I paid so much attention to her. She was in the hospital getting treatment for her cancer. That's why I told her to keep her bear. I was told that chemotherapy is never fun. But, she wanted to give you her bear anyway - and she did!"
Blue was getting very confused and a little irritated now. Yellow was talking as if Kimi had given her the bear while she was still in the hospital. But that couldn't be true! Kimi was here - now! She must be! Blue was about to ask where the little kit was, when Yellow interrupted.
"She impressed me as being a very determined little kit. Rather mature for her age, even if she did have a stuffed bear for a friend. Fighting cancer can do that, I suppose. What did you think of her?"
Blue nodded impatiently, wanting to get past the question so that she could ask about Kimi's whereabouts. "Yes. Yes. I thought her a bit 'seasoned' for her age, too," she answered, recalling Kimi's pronouncement. It had sounded rather sage for a six-year-old. 'Love comes from inside you, but the one you love, doesn't have to.'"
Blue's thoughts suddenly ground to a halt, her question and irritation forgotten. She had been so wrapped up in her own depressing reflections that she hadn't really thought about those words. Now she was beginning to understand them.
Her womb might be barren, but her heart was not! The love there could be given to anyone! Even to Kimi!
"That's what she meant." Blue whispered. She squeezed the little blue bear to her muzzle before turning back to her sister. "I won't ever have a baby, but I can always adopt! I could adopt Kimi!"
"Adopt Kimi? Get a grip, Blue. You can't adopt her." Yellow came around the table, looking concerned, and grasped Blue's paw. "I'm glad you're thinking about adoption, but even if you ignore the obvious, Kimi's illness would still have made adoption for you impossible. They don't consider single parents in cases like hers."
"But there is Kiv," Blue suggested, hopefully. Ever since the band's security chief had given her a smoking kiss in her hospital bed, the two of them had been getting closer on a personal level.
Yellow shook her head again. "We are a traveling band. No adoption agency would ever consider our present lifestyle suitable."
Blue lowered her head and rubbed away a tear. Of course, Yellow was right. Adoption was impossible in their present situation. Suddenly, Yellow's words penetrated her disappointment.
'Even if you ignore the obvious, Kimi's illness would have still made adoption impossible.'
Yellow was referring to Kimi in the past tense-and what was the 'obvious' part? Had... had Kimi finally died of her illness? The more she thought about it, the more it seemed that Kimi was only in her imagination. Perhaps the little kit had given Blue the bear in the hospital after all. Blue had gotten so many gifts from so many people.
Another tear rolled down Blue's cheek to dampen the blue bear's fuzzy face. This whole childless thing must really be affecting her if she was beginning to see kits that weren't there.
Yellow gently squeezed her paw again. "Blue, honey, despite what I just said, would you really consider adopting a child if you could?"
Blue looked up. Goddess! If only she could! When she nodded, her sister's face broke into a warm smile. Yellow looked so much better when she was smiling, but Blue didn't feel like smiling back. "But, like you said, that's not an option."
Yellow squeezed Blue's paw again.
"Sor, adoption might not be possible, but there may be another way for you to have a child."
Blue looked up at her sister, unable to think of what she could mean. Yellow suddenly let out a shrill "Aaaiiii!" which was the signal for meals, and from various directions in the residence, Blues other sisters, Violet, Green, and Pink came piling into the dining area. When they had seated themselves, Yellow called them to order.
"It's time to tell Blue," she said. The others leaned forward, expectantly, and Yellow turned serious eyes on Blue. "We all know you will never bear a child. We've all seen what this has been doing to you. We hoped that, somehow, you would work through it, but it isn't getting any better. Blue, sweet, all we want to do is help."
Blue looked at the faces staring at her and her fur rose. It almost felt like they were conspiring against her again-just as they had when they thought she was pregnant!
Instantly, Blue clamped down on her anger.
No. NO. They were past that! She had to trust them now. Nervously she fingered the stuffed bear. She had been brooding lately. She hadn't been able to stop thinking about her childless future. Her sisters would have noticed-and they would want to help. Yellow gently touched her elbow.
"We truly wanted to help, Blue, but we were afraid you wouldn't listen to us. As you doubtless remember, our advice in the past has not always been good," Yellow gave a sort of apologetic look. "So we called in an expert this time."
| As if this were a cue, a
little shape shot from the hall doorway and wrapped her
little arms around Blue.
"Kimi!" Blue shouted. She was real! She had been here all along! Without thinking, Blue swung the little puma up onto her lap and hugged her back, fiercely. But then, she turned on her sisters. "Yellow! You were acting as if you didn't know Kimi was here! Making me wonder if I'd just imagined her! You lied to me! And I thought I could believe you!"
"Now, hold on, sor!" Yellow's voice had an offended bite to it. "I told the truth! All you asked about was a bunch of orphan kids. I told you then, and I tell you now-there aren't any orphans here. Where did you get this crazy orphanage idea from, anyway? Kimi is an adoptee, not an orphan!"
Blue stared. "An adoptee? Someone who already has adoptive parents?"
No wonder Yellow had said that adopting Kimi was impossible. She was already spoken for! Blue picked up Kimi, set her down, and looked away.
"So, why is she here, if she's not adoptable?" Blue was suddenly feeling resentful.
A hesitant poke in her ribs caught her attention, and she looked down into Kimi's large golden eyes. Except, they didn't look very happy now.
"I... I came to give you Cupra. You need him," the kit said quietly.
Those innocent eyes held Blue's gaze as if locked in cement. Finally, Yellow spoke.
"I'm sorry if you misunderstood, sor. We weren't parading kids in front of you for adoption. We just needed Kimi to help us find out what you thought about the idea of caring for a child you hadn't borne yourself."
"You could have asked," replied Blue, shooting Yellow a sullen look.
"And would you have known what to tell us if we'd asked?" Yellow gave her an 'I don't think so' look before continuing.
"Blue, first you needed to find out for yourself what you thought of the idea. Then you could tell us-which is a lot better than us trying to tell you. That strategy got nowhere the last time we tried. That's why we enlisted Kimi. She wanted to see you anyway, but since she was adopted, she could also help you to explore your feelings on adoption. Everything I told you about her while she was in the hospital was true. What I forgot to say was that I invited her and her adoptive parents here so that she could give you Cupra in person when she was feeling better."
It was now Yellow's gaze that bored into Blue.
"She really did want to give him to you, you know."
Blue looked down at Cupra and her tail dropped in shame. She had been thinking of nothing other than own selfish need for a child. Yet, here was a kit that had experienced a great deal more suffering than Blue ever had-and she still wanted to give away her beloved bear. How could she do that?
For a long time, Blue looked at the bear she held. She was recalling what she could of the kids from the children's ward at the hospital. She was also remembering something one of the nurses had said.
'We give them as much love as possible. That's the best medicine there is.'
But medicine had to be taken, or it wouldn't work. Maybe that's why Kimi could afford to give away so much. She must have accepted, without question, all the love given to her.
Blue shook her head. For all the care she'd been receiving these past weeks, she had stopped taking the most important 'medicine' of all. It was time to stop regretting what her life might have been like without her illness. It was time to start accepting love again. She turned to Kimi.
"Cupra says I haven't thanked you properly for giving him to me." Blue reached out and gathered the little kit into a gentle embrace. "Thank you so very, very much," she whispered in her ear.
"You're welcome," the puma kit whispered back, smiling again. "It's good you're learning to listen to Cupra. I told you he was smart."
Blue nodded and then turned sober eyes back on her sisters. It was time to hear what they had to say about all of this.
"Yes, I am willing to be an adoptive parent, but adoption is a distant prospect at best. Please, what was this other option you were hinting at?"
Yellow smiled and took hold of Blue's paw. "We are all identical sisters. Given the same male, all of us would produce similar offspring."
Yellow released Blue's paw and gently caressed her muzzle now. "Oh, Blue, hon, when we finally decide to settle down and have families, any one of us would be willing to be a surrogate mother for your kit. Your mate's seed-our egg. It wouldn't be a child of your body, but it would be identical to any child that might have sprung from your womb."
Suddenly all of them had gathered close, their expressions tense, but hopeful. Blue stared back, too stunned for the moment to speak. Then Kimi was tugging at her arm. Blue looked down and saw the little kit reach out and touch, in turn, each of the other sister's stomachs with a small, clawed finger.
"A real baby."
She smiled and brought her finger up to touch Blue's lips.
Blue felt a tear run down her furry cheek.
"A baby? For me?"
As one, her sisters nodded back.
Blue looked down again at Cupra. Slowly, she ran a trembling finger along its fuzzy cheek. This was her blue bear, now that she had finally accepted it as the gift of love that it really was.
Her sisters wanted to give her a gift of love, too.
The precious gift of a child.
And because of another remarkable child and this blue bear, she could now accept that gift-without questions, or regrets.
Blue looked back at her family.
It was barely a whisper, but it was enough. Everyone burst into happy tears. As Blue cried and hugged her bear, she thought she saw Kimi giving Cupra a knowing wink.
And with only one button eye, it almost looked as if Cupra was winking back.
© 2001 by Philip J.