Banor often questions if it was a good decision to bring Astrid onto the ship. He doesn’t regret it, not for a second. He just wonders if it was a good idea. Maybe they could’ve brought her to a town, said that they’d found her and that she needed a home. Would her life be better if they’d done that? He couldn’t help but wonder if she’d be better off without them.
Banor is pulled from his thoughts when he hears a playful shriek from Astrid. She is smiling and running as quickly as she can with two boots in her hands. Banor then sees Scarlet and Fisher emerge from below deck with big smiles on their faces, each only wearing one boot. They each run after her, trying to snag the boots back. Fisher and Scarlet seem to be growing closer and closer with each passing day.
“Daddy, help!” Astrid yelps, running toward Banor, then throwing the boots in his direction. Banor does his best to catch both boots, and once he does, he throws them to Gil- who had come down from the upper deck. They play keep away for a while, Nuri and Atticus joining in, Astrid giggles and laughs the whole time.
Yeah, maybe they weren’t the best people to raise a baby, but they’d damn well do their best.
Around the time Banor was eleven and Scarlet was six, Erikur and Ruth, their parents, announced that they were expecting another child. Ruth was positively glowing and everyone on the ship was thrilled about the thought of a new addition to the ship. The first trimester went smoothly, Ruth visited Miacu every week for a checkup. The men of the ship worked on crafting new furniture for Ruth and the baby to use when the baby came along.
Everyone would sit around at night to discuss possible names and plans on what they needed to steal for supplies. While Erikur, Gil, and young Banor would retrieve the supplies, Ruth and Scarlet would stay aboard the ship and braid each other’s hair. Ruth had the prettiest bright blonde locks and turquoise eyes.
“I’m so excited, mommy!” Scarlet said, running a brush through Ruth’s hair. “I can’t wait to have a little brother or sister. I hope it’s a girl.” Ruth smiled at the excitement in her daughter’s voice. Ruth and Erikur didn’t care if the baby was a boy or a girl, as long as he or she was healthy, child birthing was such a difficult thing, even harder on a ship.
“I’m excited too, Scarlet. If it is a little girl, how do you like the name ‘Astrid’?” Ruth looked back at Scarlet with a smile on her face.
“Aw, momma, it’s a beautiful name, I love it!” Scarlet beamed and began to braid Ruth’s hair.
The men had come back with a variety of colored clothes and yarns, so Ruth and Nuri- who had been on the ship for two years at this point, and still looks like she’s twenty five now- worked on stitching clothing and toys for the baby to wear and enjoy once he or she was born. While they were doing so, Erikur came over and kneeled down by Ruth’s chair.
She was crafting a blanket with some brown yarn and Erikur placed his hand over her stomach, trying to feel the baby move or kick. He rested his head on her stomach and rubbed his hand slowly back and forth.
“I can’t wait for our baby to come along, to hear the little pitter patter of feet across the deck again.” He smiled up at her and kissed her as he got to his feet.
“I know, I can’t wait either. I’m so glad that everyone is so excited about it. How did we get so lucky to have such a good crew?” She squeezed his hand and smiled at him and he goes back to talking to Gil at the wheel. Nuri looked on with a feeling of trepidation.
Later that night, Nuri went to Miacu to express her concerns.
“Something isn’t right, Miacu. I can just feel it.” Nuri said as she paced back and forth in Miacu’s quarters.
“Not right with what, Nuri?” Miacu said from his bed, his hands resting on top of his carved walking stick.
“Ruth and the baby. I feel like something bad is going to happen. Every time I close my eyes, I see Erikur with tears in his eyes, and Scarlet clinging to Banor. You’re sure her checkups have been fine?” She asked. She’d been on edge for days, not wanting to express her concerns and worry anyone. She rested her hands on her hips, the bangles on her wrist clinking.
“Yes, her checkups have been fine. Everything seems to be going as smoothly as her other pregnancies.” Miacu studied Nuri. He’d never seen her so distressed. He patted the bed next to him and she sat down.
“I’m scared for them, Miacu. I’m scared for all of us.” She leaned her head on his shoulder as her eyes filled with tears.
Each night, Erikur, Ruth, Banor, and Scaret would have dinner together, cooked by Dante- who has since moved on to open a pub.
One night around dinner time, toward the end of Ruth’s second trimester, she was feeling a weak and tired. She got up from the table to get herself some water, but promptly fainted as soon as she rose from her chair.
Erikur rushed to her, quickly gathering her limp body into his arms. He rushed her to their cabin and placed her in their bed before running to get Miacu.
Miacu, Nuri, and Erikur piled into the cabin. Miacu sat on the bed as Erikur paced the floor and Nuri stood by the door biting her nails. Miacu felt her head.
“She’s got a fever. I need a cloth and a bowl of cold water.” Erikur rushed to get the supplies and Miacu sent Nuri a knowing look. Moments later, Erikur returned with the supplies. Miacu took the bowl of water and dipped the cloth into the water before sweeping it across Ruth’s forehead and arms. “I fear for her and the baby.”
Erikur became nearly distraught, tears welling in his eyes. Nuri guided him to a bench in the room and sat down next to him, trying to calm him down. After twenty minutes of no activity, Ruth awakened, screaming in pain.
“Something is very wrong. Everyone out, please.” Miacu ushered Nuri and Erikur out of the cabin before returning to Ruth’s side.
Erikur felt helpless. He wished he could help his wife. He tried to keep his emotions in check as he clutched his children to him. Everyone on the ship gathered around outside the cabin, waiting for news on the condition of Ruth and the baby.
After an hour and a half of waiting, Miacu emerged from the cabin looking crestfallen.
“Shortly after I made everyone leave the room, Ruth’s water broke. I tried to get her to push, but the baby was in the wrong position. Upon Ruth’s wishes, I cut her open to get the baby out, but the baby was too premature to survive. I stitched her up, but fear she has lost too much blood to survive the night.” He looked at Erikur. “She’s asked for you. Go in, but prepare yourself for the worst.”
Erikur squeezed his kids closer to him before leaving them to go to Ruth. Banor sat down on deck and pulled a weeping Scarlet into his lap, rocking her back and forth. Everyone on the ship was devastated at the thought of losing Ruth- she had a way of brightening everyone’s day. Everyone gathered close to one another, praying for the best.
Erikur rushed into the cabin, quickly getting to Ruth’s side to clutch her hand. The bed furs around her and Ruth herself were covered in blood. He tried not to cringe as he saw how pale she was.
“Erikur… I’m sorry…” She said weakly as she tried to open her eyes more to look at him.
“There’s nothing to be sorry for.” He squeezed her hand, his eyes filling with tears.
“But, the baby…” She pointed toward the end of the bed and Erikur saw something bloody rolled in cloth.
“It’s okay, honey. We’ve still got Banor and Scarlet. You’ve just got to make it through this, please Ruth, please.” Tears ran down his cheek as she began to close her eyes.
“I love you, Erikur. Don’t forget me.” She smiled as she took her last breath.
“No, no, no.” He leaned down and wept into her shoulder, clinging to her lifeless body.
Twenty minutes later, Erikur stood at the cabin door, wiping the tears from his face. He opened the door and stepped out to confront the crew.
“I don’t know how to say this… Ruth is dead.” After Erikur said this, he rushed to his children as every member on the ship broke down and grieved Ruth’s death.