It's not his.
And he knew right away. How his face fell; glum and grey and lips the colour of nightshade. And I couldn't help but shiver to no end, when he bent over and said, "Looking forward to meet you, little one". How he could be so cruel in his kindness was beyond me.
We had another boy, a plump and healthy bundle that had to be forced into the world, ripped out of me and thrust into cold, indifferent hands. And whenever he looked up at me with large blinking eyes, I could almost swear he knew. He would sit there and judge me in silence, like his father did before him. I had thought my guilt would somehow dissolve and subside with the birth of my child. That he would serve as the final stage of my repentance, but instead, he was the fruit of my sin, a constant reminder of my most terrible of mistakes.
But how I adored him. How I adored both my sons. It often startled me how quickly they were growing, and because of that, I had this crippling fear of somehow losing track of time, of turning away for a second and finding them grown and gone. It always felt like they were running, flying miles ahead, and I always fell back, unable to keep up.
They were so very different, my two boys, and so much like their fathers that I began to wonder if I managed to pass anything at all to them. My eldest was the sun in its warmth. He felt with such openness, such abundance, as if love was only ever meant to be given, and not received. And my youngest, like the palest of moons, cared silently, inwardly; but so severely, that at times it would overflow, trickle over the edges and stain the crown of my head with shy, uncertain kisses.
My two boys. How I wished, with all my heart, I could pluck each and every star and hang them over their heads. To capture the world and lay it at their feet. They would never want, never need; not while I live and breathe. Not once would they feel unloved, unwanted, or ostracized. Not once would they stumble without someone to hold on to. Not once would they seek validation in the warm embrace of another. Not once would they kiss without feeling. Not once would they love out of obligation. And most importantly, they would never, not even once, feel alone.
My two boys.
May they never be their fathers. May they never be their mother.