sleeping to dream

Becoming an Aunt: An Excerpt

Today, August 17th, marks the second birthday of my best little buddy, my nephew Keegan. He is the most special little kid I know. The smartest, the funniest, the cutest, the absolute coolest with the most awesome Aunt Steppies a kid could ask for.

Nothing wrong with a little self-flattery every now and then, right?

Anywho, there are a million things I could say about him, my little Bloop Bloop, but I don’t think WordPress has the capacity to handle a post like that. So, instead I thought I would post another excerpt from my current work in progress, Sleeping to Dream. It seemed to be the most fitting to share on this day, and I hope you enjoy.

“Ashley is pregnant,” I said with a giddy smile. His face fell and the movement of the currycomb came to a stop. The bearded jaw dropped open, closed, and dropped again. “I know, right? I’m so exci—”

“Andrea,” he said sternly, placing the comb on a bucket nearby and came to stand before me. I briefly imagined him forcefully spreading my legs and … “I had expected the field of medicine and surgery to have expanded. Certainly, there have been some improvements over all these years—hell, I would hope so, but bloody Christ, I never would have expected—or hoped—to know of a time in which a man can bear a child. That is … that is against all human nature and I don’t think I can—no, I won’t stand to hear any more of it.” A hand came to rest over his mouth, as though afraid he was about to be sick, when he noticed my eyes had crinkled with laughter. “And what in God’s name do you find so funny about this? Honestly, Andrea, I—”

“William, this has to be the hundredth time I’ve told you. Ashley is my sister-in-law,” I laughed.

He threw his head backward and groaned. “Oh, bloody hell. Why can I not remember this?” With a shake of his head, he looked to me with apology. “I’m sorry, lass. Allow me to start over.”

And with that, he stepped forward, and as I spread my legs to accommodate his size against me, he wrapped his arms around me in a warm embrace. My head tipped back to look up into his smiling face, and he said, “That is wonderful news, Andrea. Please extend my congratulations to your brother and his wife.” He bent down, lightly brushing his lips against mine, and pulled away abruptly. “But … I thought she was barren?”

I explained her condition and its fickle tendencies to make getting pregnant difficult, or even impossible for some. I told him that with consistent treatment, it can make it easier to conceive a child, and it apparently had been enough for Ashley to finally get pregnant after all those years of fruitless trying. William responded with a soft kiss on my lips, as light as a feather, before speaking in a gentle voice.

“Or perhaps it was just simply meant to be,” he said.

I shook my head. “There’s more to it than that. You know, it’s scientific. The doctors knew the reasons why she didn’t get pregnant before, and the reasons why she got pregnant now, and—”

His rough hands cupped my face as he smiled with amusement. “Ah, yes, your precious doctors and scientists. Tell me, lass, what reasons would they have for what’s happening between us?”

Unblinking, I navigated the stars in his eyes, searching for an answer to his question for the sake of being right. I mean, science had a reason behind everything, didn’t it? Scientists and their lab coats, making us believe they had the definitive answers until the next round of answers came along to prove those old answers wrong. It was the way of the world—my world—and we, as people, are conditioned to question everything, to look to them—the scientists in their lab coats—for the answers.

But what answer was there for this? There was none, and William’s eyes laughed at me as I retreated, dropping my gaze to his chest.

“As I said, Andrea,” he said, kissing my forehead. “Simply meant to be.” And with that, he wrapped his arms around me and pulled me from the low wall. “Now, come. Let’s have a drink in celebration of your becoming an aunt.”

I laughed as he took me by the hand, interlocking his large fingers with mine, and led me from the stable. “Oh, come on. I mean, I’m happy to have a niece or nephew, but it’s not like I’m having the baby. Being an aunt isn’t as special as having my own kid.”

As we neared the backdoor of the house, William stopped walking and turned to me. Sadness was hidden behind his adoring smile, and as he brought a hand up to cradle my cheek with a gentle stroking of his thumb, he said, “I never did have the chance to father children, so I cannot attest to how special that could have been. But I can tell you from experience that becoming an uncle and helping to raise that boy was …” He dipped his head, taking a deep, emotion-cleansing breath, and looked back to me. “It was truly the most important role I played in my life.”

I swallowed a ball that had at some point formed in my throat at the thought of Willie, that almost forgotten article, the information I had tucked into a corner of my brain. “William, I—”

He shushed me with his thumb, passing over my lips with unintended sensuality. “Andrea, I don’t know if you’ll ever be blessed enough to find yourself a mother. Shamefully, I shudder to think of you with another man in your bed, but … I do hope that you will experience the joy of being an aunt in the way that I had as an uncle, and realize that you play as crucial of a part in that child’s life as if you were his or her mother. It’s just … It’s just different, and it’s wonderful.”

© 2017 Kelsey Kingsley

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