Carolyn and Hector had the life they had always wished. They were happily married and loved each other, had two beautiful kids and owned a beautiful Victorian house that was considered the most valuable architectural jewel in Montaugh, the wealthiest neighborhood in all Amber Pier. The house had five bedrooms and four bathrooms, and an ample backyard where they were planning to build a pool, as a gift from Santa Claus to their sons. From the living room in the second floor, they had the most perfect view of Crimson Lake, where the four of them went fishing once a month.
Their two kids, Martin and Keith were well-mannered and respectful. They always addressed them and responded with an articulate sir or ma’am, made their beds, did their homework without having to tell them and had astounding grades in school. Of course, it was a private school, where all the children had to wear uniforms with vests and ties and stand ramrod straight and learn at least six different languages by sixth grade, thank you very much. And, to put the cherry on top of the cake, their teachers loved them, and flooded their parents with praises whenever there was a parents-teachers meeting. They waved those compliments politely away, but swelled with pride all the same, thinking about what prize they might buy their little angels for their impeccable behavior. Perhaps a new video game, perhaps only a chocolate bar.
Carolyn was a vet. She had the one and only animal clinic in Amber Pier, located downtown, within easy reach of everyone. Most days she had at least three new cases, and she could call that a slow day. She was a great doctor, and pet owners trusted her blindly whenever their animals got sick.
Hector was a small-town attorney. He specialized in marriages and everything involved: divorces, property settlements, and wills (which are not necessarily linked to marriages but sometimes are). Unlike his wife, he had a lot of competition. Amber Pier was jokingly referred to as Lawyer-Land by adjacent towns, and for good reason. Fifteen out of his thirty high school classmates majored in law, and eight out of those ten had chosen to stay there, the inconvenient bastards. But he made do, and even though he was not drowning in clients, they came regularly and most of the time he was busy with cases.
So yes, they could say they had the perfect life, with a loving family, a quiet house, and well-behaved kids who meant the world to them. And they told themselves exactly that. Except…
Except. Oh, that was the word, wasn’t it? Except. There is always an except. And when you learn about other people’s excepts you rolled your eyes and your mouth filled with spite and you started shouting the reasons why they were ungrateful pieces of shit and uptight bastards who could never be satisfied. We all do that, maybe because we always see the others’ lives as perfect and cannot fathom a scenario in which those perfect lives include an except. But we all have an except, like it or not, we always do.
The except in Carolyn and Hector’s life was plain and simple: they wanted a daughter. In fact, they had always wanted one, ever since the first pregnancy, when Keith was born. But both pregnancies had turned out to be boys, and it was starting to become harder and harder to get pregnant. They had been trying for eight months, and there still there weren’t any results to show for it. A sort of uncomfortable despair was starting to set in between them.