by Pearl-o


It's the middle of the night, and Martha can't sleep again. For the past several hours she's been lying on her back, staring at the ceiling, listening to Jonathan snore beside her. Thinking. Her days are packed; there's rarely a free moment on the farm to just stop and think, so this is different. Nice in its own way.

Right now, she can't stop thinking about Clark. She needs to go look at the baby. Her baby.

It's been six months and the words still make her stop every time she thinks them. Stop, and catch her breath. Smile.

Clark's lying on his tummy, curled up smaller than you would think such a big boy could manage. Even so, she's surprised to notice that he's almost outgrown the bed Jonathan made for him. He's growing so quickly.

He's perfect. So perfect that she wonders if he can be real. Maybe he's just a hallucination, and tomorrow when she wakes up he'll be gone, as if he was never there. Only existing in her memory.

But, no. He's so solid and warm. If anything, he feels more real than anybody else.

He's not really perfect, either, she knows; that's the midnight sentimentality speaking. For the most part, he's just a normal four year old: sweet and gentle and clever, yes, but also impatient, bratty, and frustrating. He eats and sleeps and laughs and falls down and cries and throws tantrums and smiles. Just like everybody else.

But he is special, she thinks, and she almost laughs, because that's a motherly thought if there ever was one.

Her hand traces over his skin lightly as he sleeps. His face, hands, feet, back. He whimpers softly, deep within his dream, and she strokes his hair gently till he calms down again.

Clark doesn't speak yet, not with words at least. He's not silent. Just quiet.

Sometimes he'll tug on her sleeve and point and cry out meaningless sounds to get her attention. At first they thought it might be a language, his language, but the sounds don't have any rhyme or reason.

Martha is sure he'll start speaking in time.

He sighs with what she thinks might be contentment, and rolls over.

Sometimes she wonders how much he remembers of his fall, whether he remembers it at all. She tries not to think about it much. She's buried it in her mind as surely as Jonathan buried the... ship... in the cellar.

Martha has never been a religious woman, but she prayed for a child. She prayed, and she hoped, and she made that wish in Nell's flower shop, and then there he was. An angel, sent from above, falling from the skies for them.

It doesn't make any sense at all. It can't be explained by any feat of logic. But here he is, nonetheless.

They didn't let him out of their arms for three days. He slept between them in the big bed, perfectly comfortable and happy, as if he was created just to be there.

Maybe he was.

She looks at him sometimes, when they are playing, or out on an errand, and can see Jonathan in him so clearly it scares her. Sometimes she thinks she can see her eyes in him, or her father's smile. She wonders if everybody does that.

She can't believe that he didn't come just for them. That they didn't make him themselves in that big bed.

The only light in the room is the glow of Clark's night-light in the corner. Martha can just make out his toys, still in a sprawling mess on the floor. That should make her frown -- he knows he supposed to put them away when he's done playing -- but right now, she can't manage to make herself into firm mom.

There's nothing fancy among the toys, nor are there very many of them, but what's there is well cared for and loved. Sometimes she regrets that they don't have enough money to spoil him, give him everything a child could ever want, but mostly she's grateful that they don't have that temptation. It's hard enough to raise him right as it is. It would be so easy to just shelter him, cuddle him, let him run wild. But she wants him to grow up into a good man.

He's a good boy.

Clark's breath is deep and even.

Martha kisses his forehead and goes back to bed.

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