Regret is similar to taking medicine without water. The dry little pill sticks on your bare tongue, bitterness emerging instantly, spreads further and intensifies sourness as you force yourself to swallow. The means of ingestion doesn’t get any easier from there. No, it catches, remains in the very back of your windpipe sticking regardless of how many times you try to gulp down using any saliva in your mouth to aid the process. And even after you do get it down, that bitter aftertaste lingers, a phantom lump or the forced sensation of its rough passing makes you question if it’s still in your esophagus stuck.
Lest not forget how that bitter tang stays with you for minutes. In some cases, all day and grievously for me for months… No, it’s been almost three years.
Three long years of solitude and pregnancy, I wonder if Ye Hua knows of my mental and emotional undoings, just how disturbed I’ve become? How could he possibly grasp the pure anguish I feel resenting the one I love and loving the one I despise most, him? But like the earth’s constant rotation, round and round, my jumbled pregnancy hormone-fueled emotions never stop like the earth, or perhaps it’s more accurate to say switching back and forth like a flipping coin…
These days, I’m my own worse enemy drowning in my dark thoughts and taking even a single word, moment to dissect, exam, and ponder. I then take those pieces to create even smaller fragments like puzzle pieces to restudy, re-scrutinize, and further question repeatedly whilst cursing my discoveries and revelations of the pictures that unfold before me anew.
Ashamed am I of myself and how much I tried to earn his favors in the past. I handed him precious gold, myself in exchange for a kind word or any affection from him: such futility, such misuse of my heart’s earnest efforts to waste on the likes of him. I say this now, but what I wouldn’t give for Ye Hua’s love in my heart’s core? The coin flips… No, this time, it’s the baby’s ribs cracking kicks, reminding me that I’m not alone.
My love for this unborn child is unfathomable. A sincere, relaxed smile turned my frowned lips upside down as my hand tenderly touches where I felt the remindful movements last. As if to join, connect with only the delicate, tautly stretched divider of flesh between us, I want him.. I think it’s a boy since Nai Nai calls him the ‘little prince,’ anyways I want him to know I’m here for him as he’s been there for me.
“I suppose your father will name you, little one… Maybe they’ll allow me to see you once in a while,” Lying through my teeth, I say this since I’m already fully aware of Ye Hua’s plans to do away with me after I give birth to his child.
A stain, a source of malicious gossip behind his noble back, me. An eyesore, a visual confirmation of shame to his reputation, name, title, I’m all those and the root of his humiliation to the other immortals, including his future wife, Queen Bai Qian from Qingqiu. From what I’ve gathered through gossip and SuJin, this exquisite Fox Queen comes from a proud ancient tribe of monogamous men who don’t keep harems. But then I’m not even a concubine, honestly.
In reality, I’m nothing but an unpleasant reminder of Ye Hua’s past indiscretion and human incubator for his child. Then it hits me like a swift punch in the face with a wooden hammer. Likewise, like mine, I’m also Ye Hua’s bitter pill, his regret.
Sometimes my stupidity confounds me. Why hadn’t that thought ever before crossed my mind? I want to cry. It’s a force of habit when my hands from my rounded stomach instinctually reach for the now hollowed spots that once moistened when the pain overcame my heart. Instead of wet skin, my fingertips shake still when it comes into contact with the smooth fabric over my empty eye sockets.
“A-Li. 離 Li as in separation. That will be your name, little one,” Stating in my thin voice, my faint words, sounding far away, distant because I’m already standing there on the punishment platform by Zhuxian Terrace mentally.
My knees abruptly buckle and shake. Does it storm in heaven? I’m not sure if its ground-shaking explosion, like lighting crashing outside or the searing pain in my tightly contracting abdomen bringing me back to the moment? But when I feel the warm gush of amniotic fluid running down my legs and puddle pooling at my feet, I know my time has come to give birth before returning to where I came from, belong, and leaving Ye Hua’s child behind.
Resigned submission. Being a blind and useless mortal woman of humble birth, I haven’t the right to claim a royal child of such aristocratic ancestry. Or the courage to declare me as his mother aloud; however, just this once, I’ll allow myself to whisper, “My A-Li, the time has come to grace the world with your presence and say goodbye to your mother, me, SuSu.”