“I remember the wedding, Daddy,” announced six-year-old Charlie Blue. He held in his hands a picture of his parents, Charleen and Jason, on their wedding day.
“No, mate, you remember me telling you about the wedding,” Jason stroked Charlie’s blonde hair. “Now come on, it’s time for soccer practice!”
“No, Daddy, I do remember it. There were stars everywhere, inside and out. We promised to be together forever. Then there was thunder and lightning and we all danced in the rain. You and me and Mummy.”
“Yes, Charlie, that’s how it was, except you weren’t born yet,” said Jason.
“I was waiting to be born, that’s the same thing,” said Charlie with irrefutable six-year-old logic. Then he fixed his bright blue eyes, so like his mother’s, on Jason’s brown ones and said, “The champagne bubbles made me sneeze.” The hair on the back of Jason’s neck prickled.
The Clarendon oval was surreal in the evening light. A mostly clear sky stretched into forever above them, with a canopy of stars allowing pinprick views into heaven. Charleen shut her eyes tight. She couldn’t believe she was finally getting married, and married to Jason! She opened her eyes a tiny amount, just to reassure herself that Jason was really there. He was looking at her with his beautiful brown eyes, steadfastly. Steadfast was a good word to describe Jason. He was the rock she needed to anchor her crazy thoughts.
The priestess took Charleen’s hand and placed it in Jason’s opposite hand. “Right to right and left to left,” she whispered. She took her athame and marked a large double circle in the air, like a sideways figure eight. “What we now know as the symbol that represents infinity, is also the sign of perfect union, female with male, Goddess with God, together creating a world with no end.” She indicated Jason and Charleen’s joined hands, making the same infinity sign. “Today we honour the Goddess, by uniting this bride and groom in the oldest wedding tradition known to man.” Then she took a length of red ribbon and bound their hands together loosely.
“I now present to you, Mr and Mrs Jason and Charleen Hart.” Charleen breathed then. She felt giddy with pleasure. It was done. They were married. Jason kissed her, and their friends congratulated them and hugged them both in turn. As a champagne cork was popped and a glass was pressed into her hand, the ribbon fluttered to the ground unnoticed. “To the bride and groom!”
Charleen took a sip and sneezed when the bubbles hit her nose. She gasped as the first drops of rain hit her bare shoulders, and together they all danced in the storm. The bright red ribbon darkened as it was trampled into the mud.
“Pregnant?” She stared stupidly at the doctor as though he had spoken in a foreign language. When she said the same word to Jason later, he got quite excited, but the word still didn’t have any affect on her. Even as her stomach swelled she still didn’t feel connected. And, when she felt the baby’s move inside her, she felt nothing but fear.
“I’m going to be a terrible mother,” she said out loud, to nobody.
There was so much blood. A person couldn’t hold that much blood. Jason was pushed into a corner out of the way, watching Charleen in horror. Her blonde hair was pulled back and restrained so tightly that it distorted her pale face. Blood pooled on the floor. Suddenly they wheeled away a bawling baby in a see-through trolley. One of the doctors pulled off his mask and announced: “Time of death, 5pm.”
Activity ceased. Jason breathed. Charleen didn’t. Charlie Blue arrived on a blood-coloured day.
Charleen reached out a hand to cradle Jason’s jaw, as she had done a hundred times before. She looked into his eyes. She wanted to say, “It’s okay Jason. I’m OK.” But the words wouldn’t come. It was then that she noticed the little hand near his face. She stretched out her fingers, experimentally; the little hand did the same. She panicked and closed her fingers convulsively. She started to scream in panic. Oh my God! Those aren’t my hands! Her body was then lifted into an upright position, her head flopping onto Jason’s familiar shoulder. He rubbed her back gently and she could smell his familiar smell. It made her feel a bit calmer.
“There, there, Daddy’s got you,” he said. She could feel the tears rising again. In this position she could see that the tiny fingers belonged to hands and arms that matched and they were hers.
“Who is Daddy’s good boy then?” soothed Jason’s rumbling voice. Charleen hiccuped and quietened down to listen.
“It’s been ten days Mr Hart, we need to know what you are going to name him,” inquired an impatient voice. It was a nurse with a clipboard. “Mr Hart?”
“Charlie. After his Mum.”
“Charles then? A middle name?” The nurse was writing it down, and getting it wrong.
“No!” said Jason. “Charlie, not Charles. Charlie… Blue Eyes.”
It had finally dawned on Charleen. She was her own baby. She, was a he. The instinct to run made her kick her legs and wave her arms. A large teat was pushed into her mouth and the bizarre urge to suckle overwhelmed her. As she sucked, she felt better; and as her belly filled, she forgot.
“I do remember the wedding, Daddy,” insisted six-year-old Charlie Blue. “There were stars everywhere, inside and out. We promised to be together forever. Then there was thunder and lightning and we all danced in the rain. You and me and Mummy.”