The Problematic Prince
Erna stared up at the ceiling, she felt distant.
She thought about it a hundred times over already, but she could not focus her attention.
“Don’t worry so much,” Dr Erickson said.
He offered Erna a kind smile.
Had the situation been reversed, he would feel embarrassed too, so he did his best to reassure Erna.
Mrs Fitz stood alongside the doctor.
Lisa had been slowly backing away through the whole examination, had left the room a little while ago.
Erna was relived that there was one less person in the room.
“I’m very glad to report that there is nothing wrong with your body, Your Highness.”
“That’s a given,” said Mrs Fitz.
Erna tried to smile as the two attempted to reassure her.
She had thought she was pregnant, due to her nausea and being late for her period.
Just as the doctor came to call, her period started.
Erna stopped the examination for awhile and went to the bathroom.
She couldn’t believe the reality of the situation and felt embarrassed.
She wanted to disappear like smoke.
“You’ve only been married for half a year, you’re young and have plenty of time.
There is no need to hurry,” the doctor said, looking at Erna.
Erna barely raised her head.
She grabbed the quilt and pulled it up over herself.
She felt like she wanted to cry because she was lying in bed as a patient, but at the same time, she was not a patient.
“However, I am worried about the constant stomach cramps and nausea.
I’ll prescribe a stronger medicine, but no matter what I give you, this is not something that will go away while you are under stress, so please take it easy.”
It was clear that this was not pregnancy, but Dr Erikson expressed his intention to continue the examination.
If the symptoms of vomiting are severe enough to be mistaken for morning sickness, then he needed to find the root of the problem.
Erna let out a sigh of relief when the doctor packed up his medical bag.
It was then that the door opened without warning.
Bjorn revealed himself, the man who had shouted that Erna would never see his face again.
He strode across the room and stood by the bed, his eyes were only ever on Erna.
She faced him helplessly.
There was no sign of the childish man who had gone to war with her, anywhere on his face.
“Erna, is it true, are you pregnant?”
Erna blinked at the suffocating feeling.
Every time she closed and opener her eyes, it felt like her consciousness was flickering.
It would be nice if she could just let go, she recalled when she had fainted from being proposed to, but it didn’t go her way, which only deepened her despair.
Bjorn, not getting an answer from the flushed Erna, looked over to the doctor and Mrs Fitz.
As Dr Erickson began to talk, Erna raised her hands and covered her face.
She hated her husband, she really hated him.
Erna lay dead on her bed, staring up at the ceiling.
Her pale complexion, white clothes and neatly stacked hands on her chest, she certainly seemed like she should be sleeping in a coffin.
Bjorn sat back in a chair.
The shadow of his lanky legs swayed in the dusk light.
He pretended like there was nothing wrong.
Erna stubbornly turned away from him.
“Why are you still here? Go back to your own room!”
Bjorn didn’t move, he just carried on staring at Erna with a mocking smile.
“You should be ashamed,” she continued.
She sat up in her bed, still not turning to face Bjorn.
Her pyjamas were all crumpled and her hair was a mess.
She saw no reason to look her best for a man she didn’t even care about.
“You’re just mean, do you feel better now that you see me like this?”
“No, well, not yet.” Bjorn tilted his head, “be more embarrassed.”
“Get flushed and panicked, stomp your feet, you’re good at that.”
“No, I won’t! I’m not embarrassed at all!” Erna held her head up, as if reaffirming her resolve, “it’s not my fault, Mrs Fitz was the one that called the doctor and spread the rumour.”
“Oh, so you wish to blame others?”
“That’s not what I meant,” Erna shouted.
Bjorn burst into laughter.
No matter how his wife felt after her great disgrace, this commotion was amusing.
Glaring at her husband with tears in her eyes, Erna also burst into laughter.
Her stomach ached, her belly ached and she still didn’t know why.
Laughing, she suddenly felt better.
It was probably all because of this man in front of her.
“I see.” That was all Bjorn had said, when the doctor told him the full story.
Erna was taken aback by his attitude, as if it wasn’t such a big deal.
When Bjorn stopped laughing, the silence came back.
It was a soft silence, not as awkward as it had been before.
It was a silence that seemed to be born from the inky darkness slowly permeating the room, so Bjorn got up and lit he bedside lamp.
“Lie down Erna,” he said.
“It’s fine, I’m not a patient, there’s nothing wrong with me.”
“Does the cramps not hurt?” He wore a warm smile.
“Well, at least I’m not pregnant,” she didn’t mean for it to sound like a joke.
She rubbed her hot cheeks and laid back down and pulled the blanket up over herself.
She continued to stare up at the ceiling.
After a long moment, she turned to look at Bjorn, who did not flinch when their eyes met.
He was so mean, but he didn’t look away.
He was such an uncomfortable man who made her nervous all the time, but for some reason, when ever she was in trouble, it was him she would think about.
The worst thing about it was that the person who embarrassed and upset her the most was Bjorn, but when he was around her, she felt better and at ease.
“Sorry for causing a commotion,” Erna whispered.
They were married, they were husband and wife.
She realised that when he came into the room.
They got married, they’re going to have kids one day and they will be parents.
They will have to raise a family together.
Holding his hand through this would mean so much.
As she recalled all those emotions, she didn’t want to continue on with this meaningless quarrel any more.
“It’s not your fault,” a small smile tugged at the corners of Bjorn’s lips.
“Bjorn, how did you feel when you heard the wrong news?”
“I’m just curious about how you felt.”
“What I felt…” Bjorn’s eyes narrowed in thought.
From the moment he heard the news, to the moment he came into the room was blank.
In its place was the moment from four years ago.
The disgusting smell of grass on the hot summer breeze.
The suffocating knot of the tie around his neck.
The shadows of strangely twisted objects and the smile of a father with his first child.
Before opening Erna’s door, he had stood there for a long moment, holding the door knob, not sure if he should even go in.
He knew full well that it would not be the same as that day, but he couldn’t shake the memory of it from his mind.
He was annoyed at himself.
Once he cleared the confusion was he finally able to open the door, only to face dejection at the fuss caused by Mrs Fitz over his wife’s simple maladies.
It wasn’t something to get upset about though.
The explanations from the doctor and Mrs Fitz was ridiculous, but he ignored them and concentrated on his cute wife.
It all turned out to be a simple fuss on a beautiful spring day.
Bjorn realised that there was a minor change from the events of four years ago, minor changes do exists.
Congratulations, you’re going to become a father.
Even as he heard the greeting, he knew he was not the father, but today, he would have been.
With that small change, he no longer thought back on that hot summer day, there was only Erna, her bashful cry, her languid body in the sunlight and her own laughter that permeated the landscape like a gentle breeze.
One day, when he would hear that congratulations again, he will be the father.
The father of the child the woman in front of him will give birth to.
Bjorn lowered his eyes and faced Erna.
Her nervous face considered him breathlessly, clutching at a pillow case.
When he was the Crown Prince, he considered it part of the reasonability given to him, but now that he has come down from that position, it was not his job any more.
He had married again and the supposition that a child would come along was only a matter of course.
Actually, he still didn’t know what being a father would be like, what he would truly feel.
The only thing he did know was that he was curious.
What would a child between Erna and himself be like?
“Well,” Bjorn tried to express his thoughts with a laugh, “get some rest, Erna.” He stood up and leaned over to kiss his wife on the cheek.
There was no longer any point in continuing any childish argument with his wife.
“Where are you going?” Nervous, Erna reached out and grabbed his hand as he turned away.
He looked down at her, with his body turned away.
“You said it was expensive, your bed.”
“That’s true, but…”
“But you’re rich.”
Erna clutched his long smooth fingers more tightly.
Quietly, looking down at the hand, Bjorn sighed and sat on the edge of the bed.
“Will you sleep here, with me?” Erna looked at Bjorn with eyes filled with anticipation.
“If you let me touch your chest,” he whispered sweetly.
Erna threw Bjorn’s hand.
The sound of slapping and giggling filled the soft darkness.
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