Tshilaba was good, very good. She sang to me and rubbed my belly as I pushed and she pushed with
me, getting Abigail to wipe my head and hair with water. My nails clawed at the arms of Tante
Marie and Colombine, and I wept when I was not screaming, and the blood seemed never to stop.
Clopin was useless, as men always are at these occasions. He knelt to one side, his eyes open
wide, staring horror struck at the miracle that was birth. Of course he knew we felt pain. My
babbies were not the only ones he was sire to, and he had heard the birth cries many times. But
he had never witnessed it for himself. I have no idea how long I squatted there, wishing I were
dead, pushing and heaving and panting, before I finally felt myself tear, and with a last
bellow of pain, the babby slid from me, out of my vision, into Tshilaba's outstretched hands,
and I was lain gently back, still panting, as they tried hastily to stop the blood. The birth
cord was severed, there was the final nasty pain as the afterbirth slid out, and then they were
hastily cleaning me, packing my womb with cotton to stop the blood which kept spilling out, my
old friend Colombine was crying, and Tante Marie for once, was silent. My vision was blurred,
dazed, as I gazed up the canvas ceiling of our tent, but I could not shut my eyes. Then Clopin
appeared in front of them, one hand tentatively brushing back my wet hair, the other tracing a
soft line down my cold cheek. I thought I could see tears in his eyes. A second later and I
realised I was not breathing, so I took in a large, ragged breath of air, and Clopin slumped
over into my neck, and his shoulder's shook for a brief moment.
Colombine, Tante and Abigail still worked at cleaning me, but I struggled to sit up, my body
trembling violently, the sweat now I had stopped working making me cold. Without letting me go,
Clopin leaned over to the side where his cloak lay over a chair, and pulled it back to wrap
around me. I barely noticed it, I was looking for my babby.
Tshilaba was crouched over it behind Abigail and Tante Marie, blowing into it's mouth with a
straw. It's little body was all blue and red, and I could see that it did not breathe, that it
did not move. I gasped out again, with outstretched arms -
"My babby!" and Tshilaba jumped and turned to us with a sorrowful face. I began to cry again.
She rose slowly to her feet and walked over to us, with my cold little babby nestled in her arms.
My three lady friends moved aside as Tshilaba bent over and handed the sad little bundle over to
me, and I took it in my arms and kissed it's blue little forehead, it's eyes shut tight, it's
mouth slack, and held it tight to my bosom. Tshilaba spoke softly to Clopin.
"I tried everything, bulibasha. I wet it, I slapped it's face and it's buttocks, I pressed it's
little throat. Nothing, it was too soon for this little one, too soon."
I wept over my little babby's head, not even noticing what sex it was. It was so small, so
perfect, how had it caused me such pain, why had it died? They had finished tending to my poor
torn body, and they moved over to the bed now to change it, taking the stained sheets away for
burning. My head was still bent over my babby's cold body,so they let me be as they left, one by
one, speaking quiet condolences to Clopin. "du' dera, du' dera" Clopin gestured to Tshilaba then,
take the babby fron Herli.
I protested as she did so, but Clopin held me firmly, and the babby was wrenched from my hands,
and Tshilaba was wrapping it up and taking it away from me. I wailed.
"Li'ha'eer, my babby is detlene, detlene, give me back my babby!!"
But this was not the first stillborn Tshilaba had brought into this world, and she did not look
back as she left the tent. Clopin wrapped his cloak more tightly about me, still holding me
close, rocking me in his arms until my cries begin to let up. He fondled the back of my neck with
his hand and leaned in close to me.
"Herli, I take you over to the bed now. You need to sleep, you must rest for days. You cannot get
up, you will harm yourself. Hai shala?"
I nodded slowly, choking out "hai", and he scooped one arm beneath my knees and the other around
my back and lifted me easily, carrying me carefully over to the bed where I was laid down. He
pulled his cloak from around me and tucked me underneath the fresh, cool sheets. No smell of
lavendar on these ones. My tears had stopped, and my eyes felt red and sore and I lay like a dead
thing. Clopin sat on the bed besides me, pushing a hand tenderly through my hair, looking down at
me with one line marring his beautiful golden forehead. His black eyes were pits of fear as he
watched him closely, with my shallow breathing and my despairing eyes.
It was Abigail who returned with solvents for my tender body, and a gentle herbal drink to soothe
the pain which still jittered up and down my spine. She made Clopin move away; I knew what all of
them thought - we had done things we should not of done, he had been present for the birth, we
had slept naked. Of course they did not know we had always slept naked together with my other
pregnancies, Clopin's hands gently stroking my big belly. As for Clopin being there when I had
given birth to my poor little detlene today - a harsh memory of Clopin saying the babby was
already dead leapt into my mind, and I bit my lip and turned my head away from him, hovering
behind Abigail. She did not look at him,just threw the words over her shoulder.
"You had best go now, my boy." Who else would dare call Clopin a boy? "She needs to rest, in the
company of noone but a healer, and that is not you."
Clopin had too much respect for Abigail to argue with her, but he looked at me anxiously. I gave
him a weak smile, and a small movement of my hand to tell him to go, and after a moment of
hesitation, he did, gathering up a tunic and his hat as he left.
Abigail rubbed my aching body, and brushed my hair vigorously. We did not speak, but she felt no
anger toward me as she did toward Clopin. She simply respected that I did not want to speak, that
I had nothing to say. She finished her administrations, then peered at me with her beedy eyes.
"Ove yilo isi?" she asked softly. But it was a long time before I nodded.
She took a hold of my hand, though to be honest I did not much care for holding it, then sang to
me until I fell asleep, troubled and unhappy.

Why was my innocent babby taken from me? The answer came to me in my dreams as I tossed and
turned and cried out for my child, who I could not see and could not touch. Should it be then a
coincidence and nothing more than I lost my babby the same day I had been so wicked, destroying a
rom baro's personal possessions, shaming my husband, making them talk about the both of us and
wonder how their King lived with such a chit of a wife? It did not seem to me to be a
coincidence. So long I had carried this babby in me, seven months, not like the others who had
been taken no later than the third.
I knew that is what the others would be saying as well. "Chovexani Herli has been punished for
her wickedness," Romni dajs would whisper confidentally to their shebari. "Remember this when you
are married and with child, mind your husband."
Curse them all.
I did not cry anymore. I had lost six children now, had failed my husband and family six times.
But unlike the other five times, everyone in the Court would know about it. Previously I had kept
it a shameful secret to myself, preferring even that they would think I was barren than to think
my babbies were stolen from me. But now, everyone would know. They would all talk about why I had
this one taken away, why had I not been able to keep it, what had I done wrong this time?
For a short time only Tante Marie and Abigail would hold Clopin responsible. My behaviour of the
day would be revealed, they would raise their eyebrows at each other and think Herli has brought
this upon herself......
I awoke in the middle of the day with none of the forgetfulness of sleep they all talk about. I
remembered, I remembered everything - every birth pain, every tear that rolled down my cheek,
every scream I had flung at the heavens. My big round stomach was no more, it was flat again, the
skin loose from being stretched so long, it seemed poor and shrivelled to me. Tears welled in my
eyes again, and biting them back I said to myself chidingly -
"Well, you wanted to fit your favourite dress again, didn't you?"
It was the wrong thing to tell myself. The urge to cry was stronger. I hid my head beneath the
sheets and wished for my husband.
He did not come, not for a half hour at least. I wondered where he had spent the night. I learnt
later he had slept in the boy's tent, holding Ahvel, the youngest and most tender hearted, to him
as he had not since he was a babby.
I was still hiding beneath the sheets when he came in, coming over to the bed straight away to
rub the form of my body beneath the covers. I was a little surprised at his prescence and asked,
my voice muffled -
"You did not go to work today?"
I sensed him shaking his head.
"No, little one. This is a week for mourning. Harlan will not work either. You can wear as much
red as you like, from head to foot, noone will blink."
I did not answer, just hated these clean sheets which had had no time to be infused with his
scent. He sighed and continued to rub my side.
"Herli - " he said softly, hesitatingly. A pause, then he continued. "Do you think it is true -
what they said?"
I knew him to well to have to ask to know what he meant. Clopin, the least superstitious man I
had yet known, was asking if I had lost our babby because he had held me close to his naked body
while I was with child, and had me caress him. It gave me pause - Clopin listening to women's
babble. I shook my head beneath the sheets.
"It is old women's superstition. It is not true." I said. I knew the real reason. The sigh he
gave was one of relief, and he tried to peel back the sheets to look at me. But I would not let
him, just held them tight and close about me.
"Let me get in with you then." he said finally, and I relented, loosening the sheets just enough
so that when he had stripped he could wriggle beneath them.
How thankfully I moved into his arms, how gently and close he held me. I still could not raise my
face to his, but I buried it in the hair of his chest and clung to him tight. His hands rubbed me
soothingly all over my back and through my hair and I kissed his chest and swallowed tears.
Finally he pushed me gently onto my back, despite resistance I could not match his strength, and
half covered my body with his, rubbing my belly with one large, elegant hand and looking down at
me tenderly with his glittering black eyes. I felt shamed he should see my face, the face of his
wife who could not carry his babby the full term. I had never felt shamed for him to see my face
before. Then his hand moved lower, and I gave a great gasping cry and pushed it from me, turning
my head from him.
"What? What is it?" he said in alarm and I gulped at him, hurt.
"You think of that even when your wife is sore from being torn open?" I snapped at him and he
held his hands up defensively.
"You think that of me? Why? I wanted only to see the wounds. Let me look, please."
It was not any part of tradition or custom for a man to look at his naked and sore wife after she
had given birth, I can assure you. In the past I had been clad chastely in a nightdress until I
was healed up, but Clopin and I had broken every other rule there was between man and wife, why
not this one also? I let him pull the sheets up and look at the marks the babby had left on its
way out; he traced them lightly, a touch as gentle as a mother touching her babe, then he bent
his head and kissed them, then he kissed me and I threw my arms about his neck and held him
tight. He breathed deeply into my neck for a few moments before saying.
"Herli, may I be honest with you?"
I smiled tearfully. "I would not have you any other way."
He raised his head to look into my eyes. "I'm sorry you have grief over the babby, but I am more
glad you survived."
What could I say? He was just a man after all, who clung to that which brought him comfort and
disliked what did not. He played with his children, and he taught them what he knew, but he did
not feed or clothe them, change them, nurse them - and he did not carry them inside of him. He
appreciated the life which was to come from my bulging belly, of course, and was pleased in it,
but the babby did not come *alive* for him until it was born healthy and he nursed it in his
arms. He could not truly understand how I felt because he could not feel it. So I just smiled
weakly at him and kissed his unshaven cheek and told him to go and be clean before his lovely
goatee was hidden amongst a hairy face.
Then I was left alone with my pain and my loneliness. For it was lonely, to suddenly have that
which I carried so closely taken away. After the birth I would of had over a year of giving suck,
of caring for the little living treasure which could do nothing for itself, as closely as if it
had still been inside of me. Now it was gone, I could not sing to it or tell it stories, or
grumble about the unfairness of being a woman in a man's world and being unable to fit into my
favourite dress. All of my children were born knowing how to grumble.
Running lonesome hands over my belly I sang anyway. I would have to stay in bed until I
recovered, for my bloodloss had been great. I was glad, very glad for it meant I would not have
to face the condolences and whispers. Everyone would know why I had lost the babby, for the story
of the paint-battle would of spread by now. They would feel sympathy for me of course - but the
fact I had brought it on myself would not be ignored. It was just the final act in a long list of
wickedness which finally could not help but be punished.
Abigail and Tante Marie came in then, oiling my body and rubbing solvents into my aching places,
checking to see that all bleeding had stopped. I lay still and silent and let them. I could see
Tante Marie was positively bursting to say something to me, but Abigail had evidently told her to
hold her tongue. Thank god. I could not of stood to listen to her scolding nonsense and
admonitions, I was having enough trouble as it was. So I lay between them as they exchanged
sideways looks from one to the other, and cared for my limp and ragged body. Finally, Abigail
took a deep breath and spoke up -
"These things happen sometimes, child, and it is noone's fault."
I stole a glance at Tante, who was biting the insides of her cheek's furiously. Abigail
"Sometimes a babby is not meant for this world, and so it is taken. It is painful, but ultimately
it is right. It does not mean there is someone to blame."
They finished their caring for me, my body was lusciously soft and smelt sweet from their
ointments and massages, and they pulled a nightdress over my head, though I did nothing to assist
them, just flopped and lolled. Tante Marie's lips were pursed, and I'm sure she thought of laying
a resounding slap across my buttocks, but Abigail's eyes were gentle and warm, and I let them, as
opposed to Tante's, fill my vision. The stood up, gathering their ointments and herbs and oils
back into their baskets and looked down at limp and scented me. Abigail finished with -
"And you have four very healthy and beautiful children, more than many women can be lucky for.
You will bear again. We have seen you are fertile, it is nothing to do with you."
They turned to leave and I heard Tante Marie mutter to Abigail.
"It is certainly nothing to do with Clopin!"
I waited until the soft whisper of canvas told me the tent flap had fallen shut before groaning
and grabbing a pillow next to me. Nasty, spiteful old woman, Tante Marie!! Of course she would
say that! Did she think I knew nothing about my husband's potency, that I, a married woman, would
not understand her meaning? I understood it very well. If I were not becoming pregnant as
regularly as I should for one who shared the marriage bed with her husband as I did, or if the
babby was crippled, or ill or born dead,then everyone knew it was not Clopin's fault. How could
it be? I was confronted with the virility of his seed every day, thankfully in no face younger
than thirteen years. But they were there, about the Court - beautiful dark eyed children, with
graceful bodies and golden voices, their maman's smiling at Clopin with the smile shared between
very old friends. He never did so in front of me, but I knew he would sometimes take those
children upon his knee and teach them things the way he taught our own babbies, giving their
maman's money if they were in a tight position. And every so often, a shav or shebari of fifteen
or so would enter the Court with their bags and their horse, and seek out my loyal husband and
say "My daj's name was such and such; she told me that if ever I were in Paris I should seek
you out..." and so it went on. Then Clopin, looking at me warily from the corner of his eye,
would do anything he could to see them comfortable and settled.
Of course, it was right for him to do this. I know he did not think of sharing another woman's
bed now, our bond was so close, our love too great, but the exploits of his past were in evidence
everywhere, and it was painful for me. I did not like the thought another woman bore his
children, bastards or not, or that another woman had known him, though none so intimately as I
had. And of course - it made it very clear that if anyone was to blame we did not have as many
children as we should, it was I and not Clopin.

And so it went on for the entire week. I was treated like a Queen by my sons and my husband, who
kept me to the bed, who fulfilled my every desire and protected me at night, and brought my meals
to me and rubbed my aching feet. But always in my mind was - the babby is lost, and you are to
blame. The babby is no more and it is your fault. You were not born to be a wife, you cannot
fulfill the duties of a wife.
And with the thoughts of duties came thoughts of the other things I could not do. I could not
cook like Tante Marie, I could not sew like Bethan, I could not clean like Sophie, I could not
heal like Abigail, I could not obey like Henriette, I could not bear endless babbies like Aloise.
And everyone knew. They all shook their heads and clicked their tongues at the little devil
Herli. Sure, Herli was a barrell of laughs, sure Herli performed her pantomime very prettily,
sure Herli could cure your beasts' ills, but a wife! Little Herli was no wife! She made a good
mockery of it, but it was not enough.
Well I suited Clopin didn't I? But it was a mistake to think of he who brought sunshine to my
nights, because I was weak in my heart from my babby leaving me, and I though why does Clopin put
up with me, I who hit him and pull his hair, who teases him and disobeys him and flirts with the
other men and shames him in front of them? For Clopin I had pricked my fingers a million times
sewing the tiniest, neatest stiches I could on the most insignificant tear on his tunic, for
Clopin I suffered the heat of the stove and the foulness of food preparation to please his
tongue. For Clopin I set my teeth and bit my tongue down on the very worst things I could say in
the company of others, which in its own way was worse than everything else. I adored him in a way
I hadn't believed was possible. But I still could not be the perfect wife.
I did not cry that whole week, though my thoughts flew from one wretched idea to the other. I
took advantage of my time in bed to sulk and sorrow. Lena understood better than her brers and
her papa, and she came to me many times to sing and hold my hand. Clopin told our sons that when
women lose a child, they lose a part of themselves for awhile, so they were sympathetic, though
they could not understand. For me, Clopin put ashes on his head and treated it like the death of
one who'd been in the family for years. The rom brought me gifts of food and fabrics, and sang
soft, achingly sweet brigaki djilia for me.
But at the end of the week, mourning was over. Harlan took up his metal working apprenticeship
again, Lena went back to her cooking lessons with Tante Marie, my boys played in the dirt with
their friends - and Clopin went above on the streets again.
But still I ached inside. I did my best to carry on with life as it was, moping around the tent
in my nightdress and diklo, cooking half-hearted meals, disinterestedly cleaning as the fancy
took me. My family would make a joke and laugh, then cast a quick, guilty look at me. I did not
like that. It was true,I did not want to smile, but it should not be at the expense of their
smiles. But what could I do? I just needed some time. My poor little babby.

Clopin brought me roses one day, as I lay on the bed, holding my stomach and humming to myself,
burning incense to soothe my headache. He had brought me roses before, always red for my
favourite color, plucked from an unwatched garden. But these roses were different. Each was large
and in full bloom, and each was a different color. There was the bright red of course, then the
darker one, the white, the yellow, the orange and purple, the pink. He handed them to me with a
proud smile, and a low bow, sweeping his hat grandly, as I stood looking in amazement at the
rainbow of flowers he gave me.
I sniffed them all up, how lovely. I held them close to my bosom and then yelped as the thorns
scratched the tender skin there. Clopin was very quick to sit down and kiss it better, then he
looked into my eyes with a smile.
"No smiles for your rainbow bouquet, my only love?"
I wanted to smile for him then, and I tried. But it was poor and a twisted effort,and his face
fell in dissapointment,and he sighed and pouted at me with beseeching eyes.
"It was with great risk to my life that I plucked these flowers for you, kitten!"
Oh of course, Clopin the Great Storyteller, he of The Big Words and a few Four Letter Ones too.
"This is a fact?"
"Of course, would I lie to my little one? I climbed the wall of the Palace of Justice, and danced
for the stupid gaje, and saw, that despite the thick ugly roots of that black monstrosity of a
building burning into the ground, that the miracle of flower could not be crushed, so with a hop
and a jump, I leapt inside that garden and picked for you the best ones."
Oh please keep going Clopin, I might smile very soon. "You are a liar, big nosed one!"
He affected a wounded expression, laying one hand dramatically upon his chest.
"I could not lie to my Silver Queen, at whose feet I humbly lay these flowers and prostrate
myself, begging to be worthy!"
I pinched him. "They are not at my feet, you oaf!"
He leapt up and quickly swept the flowers into his hands, a shower of petals leaving them as he
did so. "They're not? What a heinous error! One moment please."
Bowing ridiculously, dramatically before me, he laid the flowers out at my feet, covered by the
sheets, in an exaggerated fashion, then made much of kissing my feet through the sheets with
great smacking lips. I tugged at his hair until he sat up abruptly, and scooted up closer to me.
The desire to smile was becoming real now, and I wanted him to keep going, so I poked his chest.
"Such pretty lies! You should of been a poet!"
Again that mock frown. "I am a poet, how else do you think I afford my fine clothes? How else do
I keep you in the manner to which you are accustomed, which makes me a truer poet than most,
turning out my pockets for love! But I shall recite for you in a moment, right now I have to deal
with the repeated insult of being called a liar. I have bent under the pressure. I confess, I am
"The insult of being called a liar when it is true? What a poet! Anyway, I knew it!"
He grinned woflishly at me. "I did not take them from the Palace of Justice's Gardens. I took
them from the King's own gardens!!"
"Oh!" I whacked him hard, and he darted back laughing. I went for another blow but he dodged and
had his arms around me in a second. He smiled lovingly down at me, and I looked adoringly up at
him, then he bent down and kissed me warmly, and I responded with more ardor than I had been able
to that week. When the kiss broke I moved my mouth to smile for him, I was ready now, but then my
eyes opened and tears began to slide out, surprising me as much as they did him. His face fell,
stricken, as I cried despite myself, and I wrenched away from him, dissapointed I had once again
let him down. After a moment he laid a hand on my shoulder, sighing as he rubbed it.
"Ah, ma petite-ves'tacha. I so wanted to recite a poem for you as well."
"I'm sorry, Clopin" I said, my voice muffled by pillows. He sighed again.
"Don't be, kitten. I just want you to smile again. There will be other babbies."
I sniffled. "Not that one!"
I felt him lean forward, rest his head on my shoulder. "That one wasn't meant to be. You said
yourself you could never tell what sex it was, and you never had that problem with the other
babbies. It wasn't meant for us, kitten."
I gulped. "What if - " I took a deep breath and turned to face him,I with my broken hearted eyes
and he with his concerned ones. "What if I can never have another babby? What if I have been
He furrowed his brow. "Punished for what, cherie?"
A stifled sob escaped my throat. "Punished for not heeding you, for disobeying and for causing
trouble and bringing you shame. For being a bad wife."
He frowned and grabbed me up by the shoulders. "Herli,that's ridiculous!! What has brought this
to your head? I will forbid Tante Marie from ever setting foot in here again if she is filling
your head with such nonsense!"
"She did not say such things to me, I worked them out by myself!"
He shook me gently. "From her silly babble of course! Herli! You never ever shame me! I am always
proud to be your husband, always! At the end of the day it is always the thought of you here that
brings me home so fast! You are not a bad wife, you are one of the best!"
I snuffled again, and wiped wet hair from my wet eyes. "Do you mean this?"
Again that gentle shake. "Of course I do! Our children are very happy, I am the happiest man
here. Would it be so without you?"
"But I cannot care for the home so cleverly as the other women, I have not as many sons!"
"A wife who spent all her time cooking and cleaning and sewing and not sharing her heart with her
husband would not be as much fun. We have three very healthy sons, it is more than enough! Herli,
I said to you before you do not belong here, but neither do I, really. My thoughts to the other
men are different, my heart wants something else. We are so alike in this way."
I leaned in closer to him and wriggled. "You should be like me then, and be louder about your
different heart! Then perhaps all the brutish men would begin to change."
He chuckled against my hair. "Sometimes blending in is requisite for survival. I am the leader
and they expect something of me, and I very much enjoy their respect, my little one. So long as
you are with me wherever I am I have no problems assimilating. I don't know where we really
belong, except together."
I squeezed him tighter and when I spoke my voice was choked. "Oh Clopin, that is the most
beautiful poem I have ever heard!"
He held me back to smile down at me. "Is this true? See how well I improvise? Better than Pierre,
"A thousand times better!" I sniffled and bent my head against his chest again.
His hands moved through my hair. "A poem should make you smile, not cry, kitten."
"A beautiful poem can make one weep at it's loveliness."
He groaned. "No, you flatter me too much! I will become conceited!"
I banged my head against him. "What mean you, 'become'?"
He let me go and leapt to his feet. "I'll argue that point with you another day,vestacha. Right
now I am become your humble servant." And again he bowed low for me, again that wonderful sweep
with his hat. "Let my lady tell me what it will take to make her smile, and be it gold or riches,
the rare and magnificent beast Unicorn, or even simply a mug of water from a particular stream,
and I shall move the earth to fetch it for her!"
He was so silly and dramatic! I felt like teasing him.
"You are become my Court Jester then, eh?"
Immediately his head whipped up and his eyes flashed like garnets. "Herli, I would move heaven
and hell to kiss your knees, but I am NOONE'S Jester, Court or otherwise." He shook a finger at
me in mock scold. "How well you know this, but still your best shots are always below my belt!"
I sniffled again. "I only tease, I see you as much of a Jester as I see that old pig Louis as my
King! You are my only King!" I threw out my arms dramatically to placate him. "How I worship
you,my big strong manly man!"
He came forward to sweep me up in his arms once more. "Ah, my little delicate girly girl!"
What an old joke between us! But looking up into those eyes, those eyes I had hoped to recreate
in two months time, I felt myself begin to shake, and again I dissapointed him.
"Clopin, I want our babby back." Once again my head was buried in his chest and he sighed, sighed
with helplessness, sighed with sorrow for me.
"I know. But you cannot have it, I am sorry Herli. But tell me now, for my offer was genuine,
what can I give you that will lighten your heart and bring an easy smile to your face?"
I breathed in gratefully the scent of him from his tunic, rubbing my face against it, pondering
his question. What could make me smile again, easily, when the image of my babby's little blue
and red body was forever hovering in front of my eyes? Peering beneath Clopin's arm I caught
sight of my favourite dress, a red one of silk, the only silk I owned, a gift from Clopin many
years ago now. It was so precious I rarely wore it. I could go out again, I realised, looking at
that dress, my flame dress, my flower dress. I remembered that night, over a week ago, gazing at
my first mother, the moon. I remembered my mother's words, and now they brought a bitter taste to
my mouth.
No matter what I was to Clopin, my feminity was stolen piece by piece, with every babby I had
lost. As they ran out of me in blood, moon took them back to her, greedily, thirstily, she took
them from me and shone above, cold and uncaring. I pulled out of Clopin's arms, and took his face
in my hands, looking steadily into his eyes, my own drying.
"You say you will fetch me whatever I ask for?"
He recognised that look in my eye, and a flicker of trepidation alighted in his, but he nodded
firmly and said "I could never break a promise to my own heart."
I bent my forehead against his. "I want the moon. Bring her to me."
His eyes widened in disbelief and he began to laugh. "What?"
I frowned at him. "You think I jest? I want that bitch!"
He leaned back,holding up his hands. "Alright alright, my only love, I know you grieve and that
your heart aches, but now you are speaking of the moon as a real person!"
I clenched my fists. "Do you deny that she is a great power above us, and plays part in the life
of all women?"

Harley Quinn, 2000 (harley_quinn@cheerful.com)
May not be reproduced without permission.