Baby Chick

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Story of Nathan - part 3

Is it alive, that little bean in her belly? Is it sentient already? How could she explain the dreams she's been having lately? Domenica is lost.

She doesn't really believe she's swimming through mystical dreams, just like she doesn't really believe Aaron had magic in him. She's always been better at science than imagination. Still, it's become harder to hide her doubts. When reality casts strange shadows and you can't explain what's going on anymore, there is not much of an idea to come home to anymore.

Around that same time a letter arrives at her parents' place. It's an invitation to a university tour for soon-to-graduate students. The phone call Domenica receives from her mom is quite firm: she can stay at her grandma's place and keep taking a break from school only if she also works towards her graduation. She's not allowed to throw her school year away because of a heartbreak. If her mom only knew!

She still has a few weeks to decide whether to keep it or not so she goes to Hottao Lake University, hoping to get her mind out of its panicked state for a little while. She's learning towards the science departments, a bit lost as to what she should major in. They all seem nice, but more like hobbies? Domenica hasn't given a lot of thought to what comes after studies. She doesn't even know if she's gonna make it to college, and that realisation hits hard. Aaron's presence has messed up her life more than she cares to admit. Maybe it's not so bad that he's gone now.

Unexpectedly, the university trip works like a charm. She finds people in their second year available to give her a tour of the science buildings. The facilities are pretty good, not outstanding but it's hard to have any kind of expectation so far from the capital. It's the content of the classes and the enthusiasm of the students that give her a real boost. The more time she spends there, the more labs she goes through, the more she absolutely wants to go there. Then they go through the anthropology lab and it's a revelation. There was nothing like that in high school. The artifacts, drawings and humanities mixed with precise engineering and science: she's sold.

On the way back, instead of feeling relieved, she can't stop crying. She knows what she has to do now and it's never been harder. No matter what king of connection she feels with the egg in her belly, she has to get an abortion. Her entire future rides on it. It feels awful to think about flushing it, but it feels worse to think about the kind of life she would give that kid. The kind of life she would give up. Don't you need a minimum of stability to raise a little one? Something like a job, a place to call home, maybe a partner?

She gets back to her granny's place in pieces. So much for Granny Wendi, who was hoping she would get some fresh air and idea out of this trip. Domenica spends the afternoon crying in the couch ad eating sweets. Wendi is especially good with cookies. No one broken-hearted could resist her freshly baked cookies and Domenica is no exception. After a while she gets nauseous from it in a way that is clearly reminding her of morning sickness. It makes her cry all the more, just thinking about it. Granny Wendi lets it go: she can wallow in self-pity for now if it makes her feel better, there is still time to decide. Maybe crying your heart out, maybe letting you real feelings be known isn't the worst thing that can happen before you get to choose your path. Maybe Domenica simply needs this. In any case, Wendi's response is quietly efficient: she bakes more cookies while reducing the amount of sugar.

They end up having a big talk that night. Granny Wendi puts something down on the list of possibilities that Domenica hasn't thought of until now.

"Domenica," says Wendi seriously, after half an hour of listening to her granddaughter getting cornered again and again by her own thoughts. "You know I've always been pretty independent."

That much is true: Granny Wendi left her parent's home the day she turned twenty-one. She married a quiet man who let her do as she pleased. Domenica hasn't heard a lot about her grandfather, but it sounds like he was a good man, if a bit shy. Wendi has basically always gotten the life she wants, no matter how she fights for it. To Domenica, it's a hard standard to compare herself to.

"I know you are, Granny," she says, wiping tears again, "but I'm not you. I'm not strong enough to just do whatever I want."

"I wasn't talking about that," says Wendi. "I'm saying that even though I like to think I live for myself first and foremost, there are circumstances and people that make me think otherwise." She pauses there. She doesn't want to say what comes next, but what other choice is there? Will Domenica's parents understand and support her the way she needs? Surely not. Wendi's simply not ready to leave her favorite granddaughter to her own devices. Not yet. Truth is, she's very mature for her age, very autonomous in a lot of ways, but not this one. It's too early to leave her to fend off the pressure that people will put on such life decisions. She has to be there for her and it has to be now.

"I'm ready to help," says Wendi, rolling her eyes at how soft she is. Well, Domenica is a soft spot for her. "If you finish your school year and want to apply to university around here, I can help you raise the kid, at least while I'm alive." She shrugs. "Well, if that's really what you want. Please think about it, as it is a life-changing decision. Also, if you want to abort, I hope we're clear on the fact that it's OK and that there is no guilt to be felt about it?"

Domenica nods. She wants to be grateful about her grandma's offer, but she's taken aback by the reality of that possibility. "I... I'll think about it," she says. Is it really a choice, ultimately? She was so certain this was all about putting off abortion that she hasn't thought realistically about what kind life would unfold if she chooses to stay pregnant. A life with her grandmother, studies she feels passionate about... and a strange gift from a strange friend. She's not saying supernatural yet, but she's thinking about it


***


Back to the present.

Ñox Cayu is loose somewhere, howling and cackling, its body made of patches of rotting flesh. Dave drives his pick-up towards the sacred mountain peak of El Pollo, following the instructions of Nathan, the medium child sitting in the back. Domenica, Nat and me have dropped some of my stuff on the side of the road so we can accommodate for three more people. My parents are in the cabin alongside Dave. They're apparently still in a daze. Well, they're alive, so that's all right. We have carried Tig up in the back with us and we just wrapped a big blanket around her. She's in shock. As far as possession goes, she probably went much deeper than my parents did.

Nathan is whispering things in the wind. Somehow, it's pretty clear that he's not talking alone, but he isn't talking to any of us. I thought he was a bit like Dave and me. I've clearly underestimated what he can do, or what he is. What does he mean by trying to be more human? As we're about to go mountain-climbing for the sake of defeating a mad god made flesh, maybe it's time to get answers to some of those questions. As I think that, he turns towards me like he heard. I like the kid, but I'm more than a little creeped out right now. I like him better with his amulet on.

Still in his mother's lap, he turns towards me. "Do you want answers to your questions?" he says with a calm, deep voice unfit for his usual personality or a child in general. "Now is the time to ask. You'll too busy later on to stop and think."

Well, thank you, Nathan, this isn't ominous at all.


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