J&S discuss the new reality.
"Will we tell everyone soon Jack?", Sally asked. Jack looked uncharacteristically
"We definitely need to do that. Yes, we will do that."
Sally nodded slowly. She put her small hands on her stomach and pressed very gently. It didn't
feel different. She wondered if that doctor was right. Maybe he didn't know what he was
talking about. Sally took Jack's hand and put it on her stomach. She placed her hand atop his.
"Do you think it's different?", she asked. Jack said nothing. Sally thought she felt his
fingers tremble slightly. Was the terrible Pumpkin King actually afraid? He pulled his hand
away suddenly. Sally looked hurt.
He jumped up and headed for the staircase.
"Hang on Sally, I will be right back. I just want to get something from the tower."
He returned a moment later with a small leather bound book in his grip.
"I remembered that I have an assortment of medical books filed away in one section of
the bookcase. Just as I thought, here is one on pregnancy and childbirth! Isn't that fabulous?
We'll just read this and we'll be all set!"
Jack kicked off his shoes and flopped onto the bed. Sally smiled. She readied herself to be
pounced upon, as was their routine. She expected Jack's usual embrace, followed by snuggling
with her back against his ribs, those impossibly long arms folding over her as they sunk into the
pillows. Instead, Jack slowly slid beside his ragdoll. Their sides barely touched. He fumbled as
if he couldn't decide whether to put an arm around her shoulders or simply give her a reassuring
pat. Sally frowned. Jack read intently, his ivory brow lined with concentration. Sally hoped he
would read aloud. She read easily at the level of a child, but most adult tomes were still difficult
for her. A medical book like this would surely be over her head.
Jack flipped through the first chapters of the book. Sally leaned against his shoulder, still
more than perturbed that she wasn't sitting in his lap.
"Aren't you going to read it Jack?", she asked as he continued turning pages impatiently.
"Hm? Oh yes. It's just, these first chapters are all anatomy and conception. It
would seem that we are well past that, don't you think?"
"Jack, I don't think I know as much as you think I do.", Sally said. Jack
broke his gaze from the book for the first time since opening it. He looked down at his wife
"We make love all the time, Sally.", Jack said. "We do...'other things' too. You know a
great deal." His wife leaned closer to him.
"I know how to give you pleasure Jack. I love being able to please you but it isn't
the same as making a child. I don't know exactly how we did that."
Jack turned back several pages and began reading outloud. Sally leaned against him, twirling
her hair around her fingers while taking in the information. As he read, Jack wondered how this
subject had never been broached before. How did he not know that Sally was unaware of these
The subject of children had come up only once previously. One day shortly after their
engagement Jack came home to find Sally crying in the parlor. She told him through her tears
that the witches had said something. Something which had never occurred to her before. They
approached her while she worked near the fountain, and asked how she could expect to fulfill
her royal duties once she became the queen of Halloween.
"Jack will need a son, you know!", the taller witch cackled. "That's the most important
thing a queen is expected to do! If you can't give him a son, then you're of no use to any of us.
It's a rare, rare Halloween creature that can have a child. Doctor Finklestein says that you can't
do it, and he would know of course! He said you can't have any child, let alone a son. You'd
better tell Jack because if you become queen and then can't have an heir, who knows what he'll
do to you!"
The smaller witch was beside herself with glee. She chimed in:
"Do you know about Henry the VIIIth? Maybe you'll find out!"
At the conclusion of Sally's story Jack had lifted the tearful ragdoll into his lap and
"I will speak to the witches.", he said firmly. "I would never marry anyone just to get a
royal broodmare. Perhaps you can not have a child, but then that would clearly mean that I can't
have a child either, don't you see? I wouldn't father an heir with anyone but you afterall. That's
a bridge we will cross some other time, Sally. Put it out of your mind for now."
They did put it out of mind. It remained out of mind until tonight as they sat together
with an antiquated medical book and scores of unspoken questions.
Sally rose from the bed shortly after the chapter on conception.
"Let's read more tomorrow Jack. This is so very much for one day. I want to think about
it for awhile before I hear more."
"Where are you going?", Jack asked. Sally managed a smile and touched her
"I'd like to take a warm bath before bed. Would you join me, Jack?"
Jack scratched his skull and looked back into the book.
"No thank you babydoll. I suppose I'll read a little more and then turn in."
It was the first time ever that Jack had refused such an invitation. Sally's lip trembled. She
turned and walked into the marble and stone bathroom. A few minutes later Jack's voice rang
out from the bedroom:
"Oh wait! Sally wait!" His footsteps crossed the hall.
Sally guessed that he must have regained his sanity. She was glad to have disrobed so quickly
and be sitting naked on the edge of the filling tub. Soft whisps of steam were just beginning to
ascend from the faucet. She swept her long red hair behind her shoulder and arched her back
slightly. Jack stepped into the room. To her disappointment, his expression was more anxious
"Sally! Maybe you shouldn't!"
"Take a bath I mean. At least not a warm one. Well, I guess warm is fine,
but not hot. No hot water. Not cold either though, don't you think cold might be harmful too?
Perhaps the best thing to do is to write the doctor again and we'll ask what is best."
Sally's jaw hung open. Her husband was already out of his mind and they had known of her
condition for less than twenty-four hours.
"I would really like to take a bath Jack.", Sally said quietly. Jack paced across the
bathroom, then brightened.
"I'll bet warm water would be fine. What was I thinking after all? The baby is in warm
water currently I believe. In, um...there.", he said with an illustrative point towards his wife's
belly. Sally sighed. She stood up and moved against the worried skeleton. She pressed her
stitched flesh against him. Jack moved to embrace her, but stopped. Sally had had enough.
"What is the matter Jack? Are you angry with me? All night you won't touch or hold
me! You have barely come near me since Doctor Frost left. You won't even take a bath with
me and that is one of our favorite things! I'm going to have your baby Jack. Your little demon
seed. Aren't you happy?"
Jack's face changed as if he were coming out of a spell. He looked down at Sally and rested his
head against hers.
"Ooooh Babydoll. I am anything but angry with you. I am sorry if that's how I've acted.
This is all just beyond me. I'm afraid to touch you in case I hurt it, or hurt you! I don't know the
first thing about babies."
Sally unfastened his tie.
"Jack, I think you know the first thing.", she whispered. Jack laughed outloud.
"Yes, it seems I do. It seems you do too."
Sally moved on to unbuttoning his shirt.
"What about the rest of it Sally?", Jack said. "Can we do all the rest?"
Sally gave a small shrug as she helped Jack out of his suit.
"I don't think we would be so good at the first thing if we couldn't do all the rest too.",
she said plainly.
Jack had to admit that that held a certain solid logic. He stepped into the warm marble coffin
bath and helped his wife in beside him. She began massaging his spine, slipping her tiny fingers
between the vertebrae. Jack moaned. It was so relaxing. Suddenly nothing seemed as
insurmountable as it had only moments ago.
"Sally, just think, you'll have to make new clothes.", Jack said.
"For the baby?", Sally asked.
"That too, but I was thinking for yourself."
"I don't need new clothes Jack.", Sally answered as she rubbed his shoulder blades.
"Heh, I think you really need to look at the later chapters of that book, Sally."