The tension built for the rest of the day until it was so thick even Bruxharu himself couldn’t tear through it. Their one bedroom house had somehow, in a matter of minutes, become even smaller. From the living room, he could hear her moving around in the bedroom, and whenever she walked out, she pointedly ignored him. Nowhere was comfortable.
It reached its climax that night when Bruxharu crawled into bed, at last, and slept next to Randi’s already sleeping body. Though they didn’t speak, the tepid air between them began to dissolve little by little and life returned to relative normalness.
Hormones?, he wondered as he washed up before work. He’d remembered reading about the changes a human woman’s body went through during pregnancy; the cravings, the spikes of mood, the body aches, exhaustion. He knew that even the hardest day of work for him couldn’t compare to what was happening to Randi.
And that was under normal circumstances. Bruxharu, the full-blood demon, wouldn’t have a normal human child no matter what. Was the baby spiking her pregnancy symptoms even worse? Demons, by right, were more quick to anger and naturally hot-headed. Was their child influencing that in her?
Randi: Brux? I know you’re leaving for work soon, but do you have a minute?
Randi stepped into the bathroom and closed the door behind her. The first words she’d spoken to him in nearly 48 hours came on the sweetest tone that he’d ever heard. Before she could say anything, he found himself rushing to be the first.
Bruxharu: I’m sorry, Randi. I want you to know that. If I came off like I was snapping at you or your sister, I didn’t mean that. I sometimes don’t know how to talk to people.
Randi: It was me… I wasn’t expecting pregnancy to be this hard, or having this big change in my life with moving and Precious suddenly not being there… I just get so tense!
Bruxharu: It’s okay. I forgive you. I’m a tough guy, I can learn to take it.
Randi: You are. You’re my big, tough demon. I’m sorry for yelling at you. Maybe today I’ll get some rest while you’re gone! Don’t work too hard tonight.
Before he left, she kissed his cheek and smiled.
But rest would soon cave to curiosity when Randi’s phone rang and she heard Precious on the other end.
Precious: Come out with me. There’s a festival going on tonight that I’ve been dying to go to and I think you’ll love it. You need to get out of that house anyway, and out of Oasis Springs. You always loved San Myshuno!
Not only did Randi love San Myshuno, but also the delicious food that was made in it, always around every corner. Without hesitation, she slipped her shoes on and left to meet her older sister.
Randi: It all smells so good!
Precious: I’m glad you came! Don’t worry about anything tonight. We’re just going to enjoy ourselves.
Under the brightening lights with the sun setting over the city, Randi took in the sights and smells. Men and women milled about the food vendors as the spices tanged the air through the whole festival. Skillful fingers plucked the strings of a guitar and a woman’s voice rose up, smooth as honey.
The last time Randi had been anywhere as lovely had been when she was a little girl. She’d clung to Precious through the crowd of people and watched street artists paint the sidewalk into a masterpiece right before her very eyes.
Somehow, the festival was even better. Whether it was because she was an adult capable of experiencing more of the world or just because the city had evolved even more since all those many years ago, she didn’t know.
The bartender looked at her when she approached, a confused but polite expression.
Bartender: Are you sure you should be having anything?
Randi: One won’t hurt!
At least, she figured one wouldn’t hurt. Precious had told her that when Randi went off on her tangent about being tense all the time.
Randi took her glass and found Precious through the crowd. She sat at a picnic table with a plate of food reserved for her sister. The men sitting with her seemed to know Randi upon sight, as they stood up to greet her and escort her into the conversation.
Randi: And then Precious said, “These are my coworkers!” Can you believe it, Brux?! Precious lives in San Myshuno now! She said her job relocated her to the city, and she took the offer right away! She said she’s leasing a three bedroom apartment right now! And Brux, it is soooo pretty. The view is amazing! I can’t wait to go back!
By the time Bruxharu had come home from work at the end of his shift, Randi was already sleeping soundly. It wasn’t until the next day that Bruxharu heard all of the details.
Bruxharu: But what about resting? I thought that was the plan…
Randi: I had a better time being out with Precious! You should have seen all of that food! Everyone was steaming out of their ears! It was hilarious!
Just then, Randi’s phone rang from the bedroom and she leapt up to grab it. Pregnant or not, she’d suddenly become agile like a cat! And as excited as one upon seeing a mouse…
Randi: Precious wants to take me back into the city! To see a show! It is seriously the coolest thing that she lives there now. I can’t wait.
She barely heard him for how furiously she tapped away on her phone screen. He cleared his throat and tried again.
Bruxharu: Randi, you need to stay home now… The baby is ready to come any time and I have a day off! I told Pete it was the baby’s due date and he let me stay home tonight so that I could be with the two of you.
Randi: Brux, Precious is my family too! Not just you and the baby! I want to go. I need to go! I’ve dreamt about San Myshuno for years… I can’t wait until we move there.
Bruxharu: … The plan was never to move to San Myshuno.
Randi: … You want to stay in this desert forever?
Bruxharu: It’s my new home! This is my land. We own this place, Randi…
The look of confusion crossed to anger, but before she could start the argument brewing up between them, everything washed away by the sudden spike of pain in her body.
Randi: Oooooh! What is that?!
Bruxharu launched up from his seat to face her, but her sudden scream sent him into a full on panic.
Randi: Oh!! I think its time! Owowow, Brux! Take me to the hospital!!
Bruxharu: Okay! Let me throw on some clothes! Do you need some pants? I’ll get you some pants! Something to wear! What do you want to wear?! Anything and I’ll get it or you!
Randi: Just! Go! Bruxharu!!!
He didn’t know how they got there, or even the person that checked them in at the front desk. The world, the concept of time, raced by in front of him as Bruxharu Danusahm tried hard to keep up. And then, all of a sudden, it came to a dead-set stop.
The beeping machines grew louder and louder with the doctor’s instructions. Suddenly the sterile white walls started closing in around him and Bruxharu felt the breath leave his lungs.
Doctor: It’s all going to be fine. Just a few more levers and pulls and we’ll have your baby out to meet the world.
But the good doctor might as well have been talking gibberish for all Brux heard. The doctor’s face swam fuzzy into view, but somehow he managed to stay upright and present.
Bruxharu: Randi… Randi, it’s going to be okay. Almost there. You’re doing so great.
Though she heard them both word for word, she looked at neither of them. The pain didn’t even seem to bother her as much anymore. Randi waited for the birth of the child, and idly wondered what it would look like… Like Bruxharu, it’s demon father? Green skin, black eyes, horns? Or like her…?
It wouldn’t look like her. It would look like the red sand of the desert and like the blaze of the sun. It would look like the old local bar and the dunes she couldn’t escape from, no matter how hard she tried.
It never bothered to cross her mind until then: the future. Precious had asked all of those questions, but had she? No…
With all of the grace of a true princess, the sweet little girl entered the world so unlike the way her father had: quietly.
Bruxharu: Is she okay?! Is she healthy? Why isn’t she crying?!
Doctor: She’s healthy and most importantly, she’s happy! Congratulations, mama, papa. It’s a beautiful baby girl. I’ll work up the birth certificate.
Her name would be Saena Danusahm, after the great demoness Sae who fought away the hybrid frogs from her land.
She listened to her dad’s corny jokes, and smiled when he laughed at himself. It was singularly the most beautiful thing Bruxharu had ever seen. To witness it reminded him of his own father’s will, in taking Brux in as he had and also in sending him back out. Holding little Saena, he understood then what it was all for.