I stood on the shore of the lake. It was so still I could barely hear the lap of the water. No birds chirped and even the wind was silent. The only company I had was the thing I carried in my arms. On the long trek to the lake it had gotten heavier with each step I had taken. My screams for help had gone unanswered. No one had come.
When the pain had finally ceased, I was able to see the cause of all my suffering. It had been bloody and it wasn't making any noise. I had gently slapped its leg and it had started to wail. Ugh … that sound. I just wanted it to stop.
Remembering my mother's advice, I grabbed my shawl and wrapped it up. That quieted the thing down. I presumed it had been cold. What was I to do next? I didn't want to take it home. If the past year had been any hint as to what my life would be like after, I dreaded going home. So when I saw the reflection of the moon on the lake, I made my decision.
My pockets were heavy and were nearly overflowing with rocks I had gathered. This was the only way to right things. I would walk into the water until it was above me and the rocks would weigh me down. It would die along side me.
I remembered how it had all began. He had been dashing in his armor and swinging his sword he had seemed so brave. One shy smile had started it all. It then escalated to clandestine meetings in the garden, away from the prying eyes of my parents and chaperones. In the shadows, he vowed his undying love for me and whispered sweet lines exalting my beauty.
At time I thought he was bettered suited for being a poet rather than a soldier. Amidst the entire affair, I forgot myself. I was completely enthralled by his promises of love. Never had anyone spoken to me like that. I believed I was in love with as well. He proclaimed that we would run away together; away from all the responsibilities that hindered us, he from the harsh life of a soldier and I from the stifling existence as nothing more than the youngest daughter of a noble.
His station made him lower than me but we did not care. Love makes no distinctions such as that. We were blind to the real world and we would have happily remained in our frail bubble. Reality shattered that bubble and it was more inclined to punish me than him. My punishment for my few moments of weakness was the thing that was asleep in my arms.
How could it sleep so peacefully when my life was ruined because of it? Didn't it know what disgrace and shame I had to endure in order to bring it into the world? Just looking at it made me want to throw as far from me as I could. I remember when my parents first found out.
"How could you do this to your family?" my mother asked me as if I had done it on purpose but before I could answer my father answered for me.
"She is weak, that is why," my father said disgusted.
"Papa …," I began but he cut me off.
"Do not Papa me, you harlot! No daughter of mine would have done this to her family. You were thinking of only yourself were you not? You are a disgrace. You are fortunate I do not throw you out of this house. What man would want to marry you now? You are damaged goods, girl! No man wants another man's leftovers!" As my father kept going, his face became redder and redder.
I straightened my shoulders, looked my father straight in the eyes, and declared, "I am no man's leftovers if there is no man who has left me to begin with."
"You believe that? Then tell me this, where is the father now?"
"I may not know where he is, but I do know that he is fighting for his country."
"And once he is done fighting, what will he do? Will he return here to whisk you off your feet and go riding off into the sunset? Come out of your daydreams and realize the truth. He is soldier; he is most likely dead in a ditch somewhere."
"He promised to return."
"A promise can not food in your belly. When you and that abomination growing inside of you are starving in the dead of winter, do not come crawling to me. Face it, Acedia, he is never coming back. He has left you to bear the weight of your actions alone."
As the months went by, I started to realize the truth of my father's words, no matter how much I clung to the hope that he would return. The season passed and my stomach grew. I was no longer allowed outside the walls of the estate. I was a prisoner in my own home. No one dared speak to me. It was a lonely existence.
Then one day the house was quiet. I quickly ran out before anyone noticed I was gone. I walked as far as I could. When night came, I took refuge in an abandoned cabin. Then the pains started. I closed my eyes as I tried to forget the memory of how horrible the pain been. I needed to focus on the task before me. My life had led me to this moment and now I could end it all. Stepping into the water, I heard something move behind me.
"Who is there? Show yourself!"
"Acedia?" a young masculine voice called out from the darkness. I did not realize that I instinctively clutched the bundle tighter to my chest. I recognized that voice.
"Valere?" No, it could not be. Not now, not this.
"Acedia, what … what are you doing out here in the dead of night?" He said as he came forth from the shadows. He was still garbed in his some of his armor. As the moonlight shown on his face, I realized he was still as handsome as the last time I had seen him.
"I'm going to end it all," I told him more calmly than I really felt.
"What do you mean? Do not tell me you're here to kill yourself?" He took a step forward.
I took a step back, towards the water. "It is the only way to right things." As I spoke, the thing in my arms began move.
"Is that a baby? Acedia, what are you thinking? What has happened to you to have caused this?"
"You are wondering what has happened to me. This has happened to me. This wretched thing has ruined my life and it was your doing." I yelled at him as I held out the thing for him to see.
"You can not mean that this … this child … is ours?"
"It is not a child; it is the physical representation of my sin, of my one moment of weakness. It deserves to be vanquished along with myself. I can not live like this any longer!" I wailed as I started to dash towards the promise of solace that the water offered. Valere was faster than I and caught me around the waist before I was able to feel plunge myself into the cold depths of the lake's embrace. He turned me around to face him, being careful of the thing crying in my arms. He put his hands on my upper arms
"Acedia, even if you regret our time together, the infant is not to blame. We are. The child could no more choose its parents than we could. Please don't do this. We can get through it. Just give me the child." He looked down at the thing in my arms and said wistfully, "We can raise it. Together. We'll get a small cottage somewhere and find a priest to marry us." He got a far away look in his eyes as he continued to describe what kind of future we could have. He did not understand. I did not want a future where I had to watch the thing that ruined my life grow up happy and unaware of the strife its birth had caused.
I would make a very resentful mother. Any chance I got I would want to cause it pain. No mother should be like that. I looked at Valere and knew that he would make a wonderful father but I was never the right girl to be the mother of his children. If I could barely handle the birth of his first child, how would I do with the ones yet to be born?
My pain had never truly been the child's fault. I had wanted something to blame other than myself. I was the one who had to be vanquished, not it.
"Hurry and take her Valere before I succumb any further to my despair." He quickly took the sleeping infant out of my arms. It had fallen asleep to the sound of Valere's dreams that would someday become its future.
"Give her the love and tender care she deserves for though I realize I love her enough to give her to you I do not have the strength to live through the pain she would undoubtedly bring me."
"It's a girl?" Valere asked shocked for he had not of the child's gender until then.
"Yes …" I had known the infant was a girl the moment I had laid eyes on her. I had wanted to hold onto my pain for if I had acknowledged the infant as a living breathing person, I would have lost my grip on my misery and be mesmerized by the child.
As Valere inspected the infant, she woke up and regarded her father. She cooed and raised up her chubby arms to him. "She has your eyes, Acedia."
I winced as I felt a stab of pain run through me. "Tell me no more. If I know more, my resolve will fade and I will endeavor to live. Know this, Valere, she may have come of my womb but I rescind my role as her mother. She now has only you. Name her what you will. I have given all that I can though it may not be much. Take care of her Valere if not for me then for yourself. Give her what I can not." With a first and last tender look at my daughter, I calmly walked into the dark waters of the lake.
AN:I had a dream about this last summer. Here's the ending that it originally had but I took it out because others felt that it ended nicely enough with Acedia walking into the lake. If you like this ending, it comes just after the last paragraph.
Valere watched as Acedia descended further into the black abyss until her head dipped beneath the still surface. A gurgle drew his attention back to the baby. "You will never know just how much she has given you. Your name will be Desperaria, for your mother's sorrow." The lake was as silent as the grave as he whispered his daughter's name one more time.