Chapter 6: Eclid
Even though she had known each of the three people surrounding her, Eclid still felt a bit out of place. She had a strong connection with her husband, Nicke; but his connection with his little sister and Logen was different. Eclid was like a fourth wheel on a tricycle made up by Nicke, Zenith, and Logen. Still, Eclid hid her feelings, for Nicke’s sake.
“Safe travels,” Eclid said as she and Logen embraced for the last time. “How long is the trip again?”
“I should make it to Vera in just under two weeks,” Logen answered.
“So, we’ll be receiving a pigeon in two weeks and three days?” Zenith asked, although the question was more of a statement. Logen nodded.
Pigeons were the most efficient way to send letters, although it was not the least expensive. The letter would have to be made as a document on the e-tab and loaded onto the mail computer at the library. Then a memory card with the file was attached to the leg of a pigeon like it was done centuries ago. This memory card would be transported by the bird—wingmailing, as it was now colloquially termed—and the destination would be the nearest library to the recipient. This made it easier to distribute multiple letters using one memory card and one pigeon. The letter, sometimes in the form of a video, would then be loaded onto the computer at the recipient’s library, and they had to come in and download it onto their own e-tab.
Unfortunately, it would take a few days to receive a response through wingmailing. The only way to have an immediate conversation was to use a radio but those had barely any range, let alone across provinces.
Eclid stood back and watched as Zenith hugged Logen. “I’m gonna miss you,” Zenith said.
It was still difficult for Eclid to refer to Zenith as she, even mentally. But it was getting easier with time. Especially when she said something as sentimental as I’m gonna miss you. This was the most emotional she had ever seen Zenith. It’s only been a month, but maybe those hormones are already starting to work, she thought to herself.
“Don’t die in Vera,” Zenith finished.
Never mind, she’s still the same.
“I can’t let myself die out there, no matter how dangerous it is,” Logen said with confidence. “I have to come back and see you all feminized.”
“Yeah, that’ll be a sight to see,” Zenith said, holding back laughter.
Eclid realized Logen was the only one out of the four who declared before sixteen. Usually the majority declared early, since the therapy went smoother spanned across two years than in the expedited version Zenith was on. Still, Eclid was equally as curious to see how Zenith would develop. Maybe once her hair grew silkier and shinier she’d be more willing to brush it from time to time.
“Well,” Logen began, “thanks for seeing me off. We’ll be in touch.”
Logen jumped into the front seat of the allo, next to Ash. The back of the allo hosted all his belongings, held down by a web of straps. Even so, they looked like they might topple out the back at any time on the road. Ash made a loud grunting noise as he straightened his legs and pulled his hands in to get the vehicle moving. Most people were strong enough to keep an allo going once it started, but only a proper jehu could get it moving from a dead stop. Ash must have been pretty strong to do this with so much weight in the back.
Ash and Logen were visible on the road to Vera for another couple minutes. Eclid, Zenith, and Nicke didn’t leave until the other allo completely disappeared. Their jehu, who had been waiting patiently, asked the group, “Ready?”
“Yeah,” the three of them said in unison.
After dropping Zenith off back at Logen’s house, the duration of the ride home consisted of Eclid thinking of nothing else but how badly she wanted a child. Not only did she feel like she was at the right time in her life for a child, but she was afraid to go against the laws. Fertile citizens had to conceive a child by the age of twenty-five. Eclid was beyond that age, but luckily Nicke was not. He still had eight months, but they were cutting it close. The government did not often execute their threats, especially because the population was on the rise and it was custom to have a child long before the required age. But Eclid was the type of person to make an example of. She had a lot to lose, and if half of her belongings were repossessed and she was refused access to medical care until she birthed a child, it would make quite the statement.
Eclid had had a comfortable upbringing. Her family, like Logen’s, came into wealth during the Recurrency, and therefore had a lot of possessions. Most of them were passed down to Eclid. The idea of losing all these had weighed on her ever since she turned twenty-five. She and Nicke had to get to work on starting a family, and soon.
When they came home, Eclid did not waste any time. She grabbed Nicke’s wrist and led him down the hallway into their bedroom.
“What are you doing?” Nicke asked.
“You know what I’m doing,” she answered with determination. She quickened her pace and had to pull harder when Nicke didn’t speed up with her. Sauntering into the room, she didn’t bother closing the door behind them. They were the only two people living in the house.
“You know why,” Eclid said again, trying to hide her agitation. She grabbed him by the back of the head and pulled him in for a kiss.
When Nicke had a chance to come up for air, he said, “Do you think this is the right time?”
Eclid pulled her head away by an inch, although they were still attached at the body and she wouldn’t let go of his head. “So, I have to wait until the right time to have sex with my husband?”
“No,” Nicke said, resigned.
“Do you think I’m beautiful?” Eclid asked as she kissed him on the neck.
“How beautiful?” she said as she removed his shirt.
“You’re the most beautiful woman in the w—”
Nicke couldn’t finish his sentence because Eclid was taking her fingernails and scratching his head down to his spine. When she brought her hands back up, she could feel the goosebumps along his back and chest. With this reaction, she knew she could have him. She backed up slowly, leaving him against the wall. She removed her tank top, and proudly glided backward toward the bed, not disconnecting with Nicke’s eyes. “Then prove it. With everyone leaving town soon, you’re going to be pretty lonely here.”
During her speech to convince Nicke, Eclid forgot how close behind her the bed was. She bumped into it with the back of her leg and let out a quiet yelp when she plopped down to it.
Nicke chuckled and shook his head. Finally, he stalked toward her. “I’ll never be lonely, as long as I have you.”
Eclid felt warmth in her cheeks, in embarrassment from falling and because of what Nicke had said. But it dissipated when Nicke leaned over her and kissed her on the lips. As soon as their chests touched, she wrapped her legs around him as if she would never let him go. Then the two of them worked together to unbutton and peel off her pants.
When Eclid began to unbutton his pants, he pulled away momentarily. Nicke grabbed her by the right leg and pulled like he was going to roll her over. “What’s this?” she asked.
Eclid scoffed in exasperation. “Still? I thought that last meeting with Dr. Bluff went well.”
“It did, but I’m still working through it.”
Eclid had to hold back tears. She couldn’t understand why he never wanted to face her. More importantly, she didn’t know why after two meetings with this psychiatrist there was no progress. These things take time, but time was a commodity they didn’t have.
“You can’t just—”
“Do you want to do this or not?” Nicke asked, perturbed.
Neither of them moved for a couple seconds, only staring into each other’s eyes and determining their next move. Eclid stared into his eyes and considered making an ultimatum. But once again, she decided to put Nicke’s feelings before hers. She conceded and rolled onto her knees while Nicke took his pants off.
On all fours now, Eclid brought her long hair over to one side. She knew Nicke preferred her hair to look shorter, and not flow down her back, at least not at a time like this. Staring straight ahead and struggling to hold back tears, she wondered if the sex was worth it if she couldn’t peer into her husband’s eyes.
Eclid felt Nicke grab her by the hips. She waited for a few seconds, expecting Nicke to enter her, but nothing happened. Afraid to turn around and ruin Nicke’s mood, she waited a painstaking amount of time, silent and awkward. Nicke’s grip finally grew stronger.
Tiny drops of liquid splashed onto Eclid’s lower back. For some reason, she fixated on what they were. Could those have been tears? She asked herself.
A sniffling sound came from Nicke’s direction. “I can’t,” Nicke said, letting go of her hips as well as his emotions. He spoke through sobs. “I’m so sorry, I just can’t do it.”
Eclid realized she may have been selfish. The problem was equally as hard on Nicke as it was for her. Nicke sat on the bed next to her and she reached around him to provide a consoling hug. “It’s okay. I’m sorry too. It’s gonna be okay.”
“I keep thinking I’m making progress with Morgan, but then I come here and everything goes back to the way it was before. I don’t know if it’s actually helping. Maybe if it doesn’t work in the next couple months we should call the whole thing off and try something else. I hate to say we’d have to start over, I know how much you want a baby. You need a baby.”Eclid took her hand and cupped it under Nicke’s chin. She grabbed him to face her and planted a kiss square on his lips. Looking into his eyes, she said, “I don’t need a baby. I only need you.”