Glad you could join us for the next hormonal episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
Cassandra hadn’t been able to fall back to sleep after Miranda suggested she might be pregnant. Sunrise shone on her Elegance as she sat above the Lilian Pond, chasing her swirling thoughts in circles.
What if it’s true? she asked herself. What if I am expecting? How could anyone be so fortunate? Marry the love of my life and have a child come from the only night we’ve had together before Elliot had to leave? It just isn’t possible, is it? It would be like a fairy tale.
The sky was clear, but a shadow passed over her happiness, plunging her heart into despair. But in fairy tales, the Prince always dies never knowing he’s going to be a father, and the Princess has to raise their child alone.
Her mind was spiraling out of control, but she couldn’t stop it. “I have to find him. I have to tell him.”
Hurrying back to the bower, Cassandra planned to be well on her way to the Freelands before anyone noticed she was gone.
When Vernon called from the doorway, “Her Magnificence and I would enjoy your company at breakfast, your Elegance,” her nerves jangled so loudly, she was sure he must have heard them. Her pack fell, rattling to the floor, and Vernon was there immediately, offering, “Here, let me help you.”
He picked up her first aid collection of herbs and plasters to stuff it back into her bag. Stopping mid-stuff, he asked, “Wait — are you going somewhere?”
His kindness inflamed her guilt and deflated her resolve. Sinking to the floor in an embarrassed heap of pathos, she teetered between nervous laughter and desolate sobs.
“Oh, Vernon, I need to find Elliot! I don’t want him to die not knowing he might be a daddy!”
“Now, now,” he patted her shell, “Elliot’s not going to die. He’s on a diplomatic mission among friends.”
“I kno-oo-oow,” she wailed, “but what if something terrible happens and I never see him again?”
“Cassandra,” Vernon soothed, “this isn’t like you. I think you should speak with Lilian before you make any decision about leaving. I’ll go get her. Promise me you’ll stay right here till I come back.”
Still collapsed on the floor, she sniffled, “I promise.”
When Queen Lilian entered the bower moments later, she brought the baby-covered Miranda with her. Cassandra was pacing.
“Princess,” her Magnificence coaxed, “what’s wrong?”
Turning a fiery gaze on the Queen, Cassandra snapped at her, “I have a list: I want to see Elliot, but the King wants me to stay here. If I stand still, I want to take a nap. The smell of food turns my stomach, but I would die for the taste of a juicy, ripe raspberry dripping with summer rain. Do you want to hear more?”
Vernon moved to stand between them; the Queen stopped him. Smiling at King Arnie’s daughter, she dropped a curtsy.
Horrified, the young snail dissolved in tears. “Oh, my goodness! I am so sorry, your Magnificence! I don’t know why I spoke to you like that. Please forgive me.”
“There’s nothing to forgive, my dear. How do you feel?”
“Embarrassed… confused… icky.”
Miranda laughed. “Mood swings, nausea, cravings, I’d say you’re pregnant, all right.”
“Or I’m losing my mind,” the young snail fretted. “How can I be sure?”
“You just have to wait,” she answered, picking up the little one who had adventured off her back and setting him carefully among his brothers and sisters. “It’ll be clear soon enough one way or the other. I recommend you treat yourself as if you are, that way you’ll stay healthy so your baby has the best chance to thrive. In the meantime, I know a good mushroom to stop the ickiness.”
“What about the craziness?” the Princess whimpered.
Lilian stroked Cassandra’s cheek. “Sweetheart, you’re not crazy. It’s only hormones making you feel angry when you know there’s nothing to be angry about or sad for no real reason. If we let them, they’ll run us ragged and make us chase all our friends away.”
“Can you show me how to stop them?”
“They can’t be stopped,” the Queen responded. “Your only power over them is to choose how to react to their surges. I’d be honored to offer whatever guidance I can.”
Vernon put an arm around each of them, saying, “My wise Queen Lilian and my powerful Princess Cassandra.”
The Princess suddenly turned green and threw up — just a little — on his feet.
Miranda broke the ensuing silence. “Let’s go find that mushroom.”
To be continued. . .