A month had passed since the birth of Mariasha, who started calling my son “Four”. He called her “Messy or Mar” instead of Mariasha, so I had been really tempted to say something. My wife considered the lot to be friendly nicknames. Dani had taken on babysitting them, spending time with my parents as they visited, which was frequent.
Today, those who were home had gathered in the ballroom again. Kayla, James, and Mariasha listened to Dani telling them stories on the floor. Most surely thought those stories were made up on the spot, not truths from other worlds, but James would surely learn one day. The rest of us were playing Ancient Tribes of Earth.
The front doors opened, and I could hear excited whispers from Ai and Mai as they accompanied Jarod toward us. Finding their reassuring whispers odd, I quickly retreated from battle and sought safety for my character at the top of a large tree. The nearby predators in the game couldn’t climb.
“Everyone…” started Ai as she entered with Jarod and Mai.
“We have an announcement.” added Mai, elbowing Jarod.
The twins were both smiling, looking completely happy. Jarod seemed… resigned? Relieved? I wasn’t honestly certain how to take his current expression.
He smiled as he spoke, saying, “We’re having children.”
“Both of us.” announced the twins in unison after a wave of congratulations.
There were more cheers.
“Not everyone here seemed to have guessed as of yet…” started Ai when the cheers died down.
“But my sister and I have an incredible telepathic bond.”
“So much so that we feel everything the other does.”
“You’re accustomed to seeing out of one set of eyes.”
“We see out of two. We taste from two mouths and smell with two noses.”
“Every thought is shared and every feeling.”
At first, they were taking turns speaking, but the last sentence was smoothly said with each alternating words. As they continued speaking, they spoke with perfect unison.
“We only ever share this information with our closest family, so we ask you, our family, not to mention this to others. We decided the time had come to share our secret because we’re expecting to be a bit touchy in coming months. Pregnancy can be rough, and we’re getting a double dose, so please bear with us.”
Grinning again, Ai said, “Maybe even forgive my sister if she snaps at you.”
“Not Ai. She’s doing it on purpose.” insisted Mai mischievously.
“So that’s why you both married Jarod!?” exclaimed Brandon, having been gaping at them for half their speech.
Mai nodded. “We can’t help loving the same person. Every feeling is shared.”
“When I touch his cheek, she knows how rough his whiskers are.” explained Ai as she demonstrated, grinning up at her husband as he kissed her head.
“I feel his lips on her hair and his arm around her. As we told you, we share everything.” insisted Mai, grabbing Jarod’s arm and pulling him roughly toward her.
Not resisting, Ai said, “Imagine reading a book and laughing during the death of your favorite character because you are also watching a comedian miles away who just told the best joke. This is our lives. This might be the lives of our children. We don’t know.”
“I’m going to have to rethink every conversation I had with you.” suggested Maple. “Can we talk with Iris, Dejon, Noelle, and Brenna about this?”
The twins laughed.
Jarod smiled and said, “Of course. Everyone who lives with us will be in on our secret, though I don’t expect Noelle to remember in the first place.”
“This is probably the most accepted the two redheads will ever feel.” teased Ai.
“Poor Brandon… Poor Brenna…” added Mai.
“Hey now… I still say that Alma’s borderline ginger.” he argued.
“Careful, Brandon. I haven’t incinerated anyone in a while, so I might be itching for a chance.” teased my wife with a devilish grin.
Brandon nodded, holding up his hands defensively.
“Dani, what does ‘incinerate’ mean?” questioned James.
“To eradicate through burning.” replied Mariasha immediately. “Don’t interrupt the story!”
Looking horrified, James said, ”Messy! Mother wouldn’t do that!”
“She was making a joke! Don’t get mad at me for what she says.” snapped Mariasha.
“You two are wonderful!” exclaimed Dani, squeezing the babies a little tighter for a second.
Only a month after Mariasha’s birth, and I didn’t think my daughter could injure Mariasha or James without effort. The two would need to be careful when their new playmates came into this world.
“Dani, more story!” complained Kayla, reaching over to take Mariasha. Kayla was really enjoying the babies as well, marveling at their ability to speak.
“Aren’t you too old for stories?” asked James.
“You can’t get too old for stories!” insisted Kayla. “Dejon reads constantly! I bet your daddy does too.”
“Father.” corrected James, but he seemed to be considering what she said.
“No one reads more than my mother.” argued Mariasha.
Reaching over to poke her belly, Dani said, “She prefers when you call her ‘mommy’”
“My sister calls her ‘mother’, so I will too.” insisted Mariasha.
“Your poor mommy is going to be sooo discouraged!” exclaimed Dani with a grin.
“Not possible. Mila told me.” argued Mariasha, crossing her arms.
Dani seemed to consider for a moment before saying, “You might be right. I don’t think Daddy’s ever managed to discourage her from anything.”
“But if courage helps you to do things even when they frighten you, why does discourage not involve fear?” questioned James.
“Hmm… I think that discouraging someone can involve making them too afraid of the consequences to hold onto courage.” replied Dani. “But good question!”
“Consequences? What could happen?” asked Mariasha.
Without a moment’s consideration, Dani said, “Daddy gets mad.”
“I don’t have a daddy.” replied Mariasha with a frown.
“Just don’t make my daddy mad.” insisted Dani with a grin.
“Our father.” stated James.
“Never make big James mad.” agreed Kayla. “But for now… more story! Please, Dani.”
Nodding, Dani continued telling them of the time we visited the Seething Marsh of Mor’gadlu Seven, making everything sound far more eventful than I remembered. Of course, even Gandalf from Lord of the Rings said that good stories deserve embellishment.
As I watched the children, the others had continued questioning Ai and Mai, who were being far more generous than normal in demonstrating what they could do. How many more children would be born here in the coming years? How many weddings would I host? New friends would surely join us, and some might already have kids of their own. The future was going to be a very lively place.