15. The next day,…

15.

The next day, they got up, ate one last meal of fish, and started walking again, heading into the forest. The poet had to take breaks pretty often as they walked, her face getting redder and redder. Cold sweat beaded on her face, and her hand dug so tight into the mathematician's arm that it left dark marks. Finally, around dinnertime, the mathematician said, "I'm not sure we're going to make it to your friend the hazel tree. I haven't done this before, but it looks like that child will be here any minute."

The poet said, her voice high and screechy, "But I'm not ready for it!"

The mathematician said calmly, "I don't think that matters."

For a moment it seemed as if the poet would protest, but she was just too tired. She finally nodded her head and said, "Okay." They lay down by the side of the path to wait for the child that was coming.

16.

When the child finally arrived, they counted her fingers (ten), her toes (twelve), and the poet declared that she was, as expected, perfect. Her skin was the color of hazel tree bark, and her eyes were briefly all the shades of a twilight sea. Her eyes darkened as they watched to a steady, solid brown -- a reliable shade, the poet said, just the same as her own. Eyes like that could see you through a lot.

The mathematician tilted his own blue eyes at that, but said nothing, smiling softly at the child. For a moment as long as the first bright day of the world, they were all perfectly happy.

Then the child began to cry.

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