In this world, memories are imparted on all things. A baby's room remembers every lullaby sung within its walls. Graveyards remain eternally wet from shed tears. Rain often falls on barren fields of war in an unsuccessful attempt to soothe the land.
Dr. Rights' pregnancy had been among the easiest anyone at Site 19 knew of. When she delivered, near half the site took the day off to support her. Reminding people to eat, commenting on sleepless eyes and overfull coffee mugs, the doctor felt right at home— the unwaveringly motherly Agatha Rights. Even Dr. Gears visited her on his lunch break. Everyone had the same things to say: you will be an excellent mother, you're already Team Mom.
Whoever couldn't make it to her bedside sent e-mails. Many of them spoke to how much of an inspiration Agatha was— a single mother, a witness to all the darkness the Foundation hid, still choosing to welcome a life to love into the world.
In the light of an evening sunset, her daughter fed from her breast, unnamed and innocent and beautiful. She felt like cradling it close. She felt like throwing it out of her room. She tried to coo and smile down to her bundle of joy. But Agatha could not feel much more than the gums against her nipple and a vague soreness.
She handed her daughter to a nurse when the spit-up began, suddenly revolted at seeing her own body fluids partially vomited onto her sheets.
Three weeks later, Dr. Rights was at work and taking up her mantle as Team Mom once more. Dr. Gears had lost weight. Agent Clef had forgotten proper weapon etiquette at the dining table.
"Hey, Agatha, shouldn't you be at home longer?"
Dr. Rights laughed, downed her coffee with lunch. "I just missed you all too much to stay away too long. Besides, have you seen Jack lately? If no one keeps an eye on him, he'll be breaking rules on his List Of Things Not To Do again."
She had missed feeling like a mother. She had tried to watch over the little bundle, listening to her daughter sleep and coo and cry and laugh, speaking to the baby softly and sweetly. Something had gone wrong.
In the noon sunset, she spoke with Agent Lament outside, where the flowers bloomed in delicate hues and the breeze smelled sweet. His eyes watched the sky's soft pink and bright orange shift to eventual twilight, listening to Agatha's quiet worries. He smiled and offered hopeless advice. "It's natural for a mother to worry she isn't doing enough at first, Agatha, especially because you're a single working mom. But you're the team's mom. You already know how to mother. It shouldn't be hard to adapt, right?"
Agatha Rights came home that evening to thank and pay the babysitter. She fed herself, then her daughter. Wiped spit-up from her baby's tiny mouth and held the small hands in hers.
She kept company with the stars as they both watched over her sleeping daughter. The baby had managed to roll over onto its side and, for a moment, she was tempted to leave the infant like that and risk suffocation. She thought on possibility of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It was less likely to occur in females than males, less likely in non-smoking homes than smoking ones…
Agatha realized then that she felt nothing at the thought of SIDS. No violent, maternal twist in her belly. No surge of grief in her throat. She turned the baby onto its back, then turned herself away.
Doctor Agatha Rights wept, softly, so that she didn't wake her child. She prayed that the world was right— that all the love and worry of motherhood would bloom in her mind like her daughter had swelled up her abdomen, as easy as anyone had known in Site-19.
Years later, Dr. Rights watches her beautiful daughter run to her first day of preschool, a lavender plastic backpack jingling with stationery against the 10 AM sunrise. The daughter doesn't look back at her. Agatha watches the other parents, observing worry and joy and pride and fear on a dozen strange faces. Internally, she is merely relieved she can focus on her work, her home and her family in Site-19.
Agatha realizes then that she may never love her daughter in the same way as the other parents do their children. But there is Ophelia, waving to her from the glass door entrance. She waves back and chooses to hope
that she is enough,
despite her deficiency.