Tuesday, August 28, 2007


By summer, Diana's pregnancy hindered her riding, limited her training, and interfered with just about everything. She couldn’t get comfortable during the day and slept poorly at night. She weakened her body with her attempts to go without food in a misguided notion that she might still starve herself into a miscarriage.

"It's too late for that," Macy told her. She had acquired a book about pregnancy and was puzzling her way through it. "My book says the baby will take what it needs out of your muscles and bones, so you're only starving yourself. Besides, if it's not healthy, you won't find anyone to adopt it and you'll be stuck with it."

"I won't be stuck with it," Diana said. "I can always leave it on a doorstep and run away.”

Macy sighed. "I wish me and Joseph had a home. I'd take your baby."

"Then I'd have to see the stupid brat every time I came to visit. No, thanks."

In July, Will and Diana packed their horses and prepared to leave for Estrella. Coyote and Macy were accompanying them, Coyote to help protect Diana, and Macy because she wouldn't be separated from her man. Diana chafed at needing two men to watch out for her, but it was a pleasant journey north, even though Diana suffered from the heat and couldn't get comfortable on her horse. She liked being in open country and she felt more optimistic about the future than she had in a long time.

After she had the baby, Will would return to their unit to help lead the fall campaigns. She would stay in the mountains with Amalia and he would come for her at Christmas.

Or so he thought.

Diana looked at Will riding ahead with Coyote, and felt a little sorry for him. Now that her belly relieved her of the obligation of being a wife to him, she was happier than she had been in a long time. They had begun to regain the closeness they had as children, lying awake under the stars at night, whispering, plotting, and telling crazy stories. She accepted his attention without the sense that he had other motives, and when she nestled against him to sleep, it seemed she could feed off his strength, just as she used to before things became so complicated. It was hard to believe she was really going to leave.

"Why do you look at Will like that?" Macy asked one afternoon as they traced the bank of an arroyo.

"How do I look at him?"

"Like he makes you sad. Do you wish this was his baby?"

Diana looked at her, startled. "Don't be silly." She peered at a smudge of green on the horizon. "Looks like water up ahead. Maybe there will be a farm."

"I hope so. We should be getting there in time for dinner."

"Another opportunity for me to play the poor little expectant mother." Diana had found that being pregnant was good for sympathy. She would knock on a likely door and beg for a meal and a place to sleep. Once she had gained someone’s grudging pity, Macy would join her, adding her charm. Then the men would offer to do some chores or repairs. Dinner and a hayloft were nearly always forthcoming. Sometimes they got breakfast, too. Although she hated the solicitousness of the farm wives and the way strangers patted her belly and assumed she was thrilled at becoming a mother, Diana's sense of honor ran strong. She needed to contribute, and if pleading her belly would feed her friends, she would suffer the humiliation in silence.


Alice Audrey said...

They don't have their own food for the trip?

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

You can only carry so much with you. Even when you have food, it's wise to take advantage of opportunities along the way and save your own for when you really need it.

Alice Audrey said...

So they really are on a long haul.

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

Don't worry - I don't drag it out for very long. They need get to Amalia so they can wrap this story up.