“Good old Steven! Come to see me about the old woman who swallowed a fly?” he says. His head turns, brown rabbit hair rustling along the back of his creamy camel bridge coat. “Still,” he adds, with that schoolboy smile which screams of sure, quick death, “…this is a private moment. Or do I need to say a word to Carlin outside? He’s the most charming little Vespiform you ever did see. Born on Old Earth- claims his long-lost cousin slept with a woman who held a party for Agatha Christie, once.”
For some reason, she imagines the blue eyes widening, as though her husband has just been very cruel, out of what he obviously thinks is some sort of necessity. Not surprising. He’s the best damn bastard in the universe.
“Ah, not today, Benjamin, sorry. You two enjoy your day. We can exchange nursery rhymes later. Ma’am.”
Long after Steven’s footsteps have rung down the hall and out the doors, his voice lingers like a good, full-bodied fruit wine, River decides flatly as she breathes through another contraction, sweet and smooth at first, a surprise of sour cinnamon in the middle, and a silty, slightly bitter finish. Good vintage for the summer, she thinks.
She doesn’t have to open her eyes to know that her Vortex Manipulator has disappeared along with her husband, because the big stuffed rabbit is lying on her face… and the sharp corner of the post-it note he’s stuck to the toy’s blue silk bowtie is slicing into her cheek.
She can feel the words he’s written on it through her skin; he’s used just enough pressure on the pen so she can just about make them out.
Knick knack, paddy whack
Give the dog a bone
Nothing left to do but wait.