My happiness at being able to afford a crib for both of my children was short-lived, as Wade proved to be just as fussy as Alton was when he was his little brother’s age. On top of that, Alton still needed so much attention even if he already knew how to walk, talk and use the toilet. I never foresaw the difficulties with raising half-human children in a human world. I had never known anything different from the female nymphs in my clan who raised nymph children in the ocean where there’s no such thing as money and bills and girlfriends and wives. I never imagined my children would need anything more than just my arms and milk, like nymph babies do. I’m starting to think my decision to join the human world was impulsive and poorly thought out… but we nymphs are an impulsive race of people. I wouldn’t mind so much if it was just me struggling to live on the surface, but I’m afraid that my children are suffering.
Despite my head telling me that I shouldn’t have more children, my body screamed louder and I ended up having Lane over again. The entire time, I was fighting with myself. My mind kept screaming that another mating would only make things harder on everyone, but my body kept telling me that I’m a nymph and my sole purpose is to bear children… what use would I be to anyone if I didn’t do what I was designed to do? I would be what the humans like to call “faulty.” At first, I was unsure and hesitant to allow Lane to mate with me, but seeing him play with Alton and coo over Wade softened my reservations and when he got both boys tucked into bed and kissed me, I gave in.
“You’re what?!” Lane shouted at me when I told him that I was pregnant about a month later. I felt so guilty about what I did after I mated with Lane and I’d been hoping that the mating hadn’t resulted in another pregnancy but it was a foolish hope; water nymphs are very fertile. We have to be to survive. It’s rare for a mating not to produce a child, and when it does happen, the other nymphs start to whisper about her and wonder if something’s wrong with her. It’s humiliating, actually, so it was strange for me to wish for that, but the circumstances were different now.
“I’m pregnant,” I repeated, expecting a similar reaction to Gus’. I wouldn’t be hurt by it; I didn’t really like Lane all that much and the mating was… adequate, I suppose, but a very unfamiliar part of me wished he would stay. I don’t really know why I wished that. I think I was scared. It was a lot harder to raise children here than it was in the ocean and I thought maybe someone else to help would make it less difficult. Maybe this was why humans had things like girlfriends and wives. They adapted their mating and social habits to better survive in their own world, just as nymphs have done. I’m starting to realise that I may be a nymph, but I must adapt to survive in the world I chose for myself and my children.
“Oh that’s rich… really rich, Azure!” he scoffed. I wasn’t sure why he was talking about monetary wealth but I figured it was a slang term that meant something else so I stayed quiet. “You know, I guess it’s true what the whole town’s saying about you!” he yelled at me. That caught my attention.
“The whole town? Why is the whole town talking about me? What are they saying?” I asked him, confused. I didn’t even know many people here, yet. I was no one special. How was I so well-known, already? Well… I guess I do look very different from everyone else. I must stand out when I walk around town.
“You haven’t heard? Oh that’s right. You’re too busy getting knocked up with every guy you can get your hands on to pay attention to the gossip,” he snapped. “Everyone knows you around here, Azure. The new girl in town who spreads her legs for anything with a penis that walks past her and then tries to pin them with a baby for money! Congratulations, you’re the new golddigging whore in town,” he sneered at me with a look on his face that made me feel like I was a fin-length tall. “Have fun with the next kid because I sure as hell ain’t going to fall for your little trap. See you never, Azure,” he told me with one last dirty look before storming off to his car and driving away.
“… But… didn’t you mate with me, too? Doesn’t that make us both ‘whores’” I murmured to no one in particular even though I was addressing Lane. A golddigger? That was… someone who wanted money from other people, right? Or… used people to get money? That wasn’t me. I never asked any of my mates for anything. Cycl0n3 had offered, but…
Suddenly, I felt very alone and very unwanted by anyone and I tried not to let Alton or Wade see me cry.
Of course, I couldn’t cry and feel sorry for myself for long. My little boys were growing up quickly and so was my next child inside my belly. Alton’s fourth birthday came so fast. I feel like I was giving birth to him yesterday. I got a letter in the mail saying that I had to send him to school. After scrutinizing the letter, I managed to figure out that “school” means some kind of educational program on land and not a group of nymphs or fish as I first thought. I didn’t want to send him to school… I still don’t like the thought of having someone else care for my children, but Alton was so excited when he got the letter and I couldn’t say no to that face.
Almost at the same time as Alton started school, Wade started crawling around all on his own and I knew it was time to start teaching him all the things I taught Alton when he was his brother’s age.
And as I did so, my belly grew ever larger…