Let's see. When we last left off, Ben had just taken my hand in his. *swoon* :)
I think it will be no surprise to you, dear readers, to know that I didn't sleep at all that night. I kept replaying the scene in my head. I could still feel his large, strong hand wrapping itself around mine. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I spent a considerable amount of the night planning out my wedding and then deciding on names for our future children. :}
The next morning, I was completely exhausted...and just a bit on the crabby side. I hate to admit it, but I was a little impatient with Robby when he asked if I wanted to go on a walk. Apparently, Raoul had improved so much that Ben had said he could take a walk today, as long as someone like Robby went with him.
"Not now, Robby," I groaned. "I'm so tired! All I want to do is relax and do absolutely nothing active!"
He took it in his normal quiet, patient manner. Within moments, he was heading out with Raoul (and Marguerite, of course). He had his arm linked in Raoul's, just in case there were any problems. I felt a slight twinge of guilt as I watched them go, but I didn't feel guilty enough to decide to join them.
A few minutes later, Rapunzel popped her head over the side of the dresser. "Hey, how are you feeling?"
"Lousy," I mumbled. "I didn't sleep at all."
"I know," she said in her good-natured way. "I heard you talking to yourself last night." She pulled herself up over the edge and sat down next to me. "So, what was the problem?" She grinned mischievously. "Did it have anything to do with a certain someone holding your hand?"
I blushed, but tried to be aloof. "Perhaps," I said nonchalantly.
"Come on, Belle. You can't fool me!" Rapunzel replied.
I stole a sideways glance at my friend, and then I had to laugh. "All right, all right, maybe that was part of it."
Rapunzel raised one eyebrow.
"The rest of the night I was too busy planning my wedding and picking out baby names to sleep."
My friend laughed a little too loudly. We both glanced over to the other end of the dresser. Ben wasn't there, thankfully. I had to remember to keep my voice down. It's not like we were in different parts of the house.
"It's funny you should mention baby names," Rapunzel said slowly.
I turned abruptly. "What do you mean?"
It was Rapunzel's turn to blush. "Eugene and I have been talking, and...we want to start thinking about looking for a baby."
I blinked in shock. I suppose I'd known it would only be a matter of time before this came up. It's a common occurrence among newlywed dolls. They start imagining having a family, and pretty soon it's all they can think about. I just hadn't expected it to happen so soon after the wedding.
I really feel I should insert here another clarification about fashion doll culture. We don't have children the same way you do. Please don't ask me to explain why or give any more details. Some subjects are just not appropriate for this blog, especially coming from a young, unmarried female fashion doll. Suffice it to say that when the time comes to start a family, our only option is adoption (which explains Rapunzel's comment about "looking for a baby").
Starting a family with your spouse is a much bigger decision for us than it is for you humans. You humans have children, raise them, and watch them grow. Before you know it, they are moving out and starting lives of their own.
That's not the way it happens with us.
If you want a family, you start with a baby doll. And you keep taking care of that baby doll...for the rest of your life. The baby will never grow. It stays the exact same age forever (just like all of us do). When you've gotten some experience with the baby, you and your spouse then decide whether or not you're up for another addition. The next child is normally a preschooler or so (usually the size of Barbie's sister Kelly). Then, the next step up would be either another Kelly doll (twins!) or one of those Stacy-sized dolls from the 90s. And if you're really brave, you can tackle a teenager. Most of us don't make it to that stage.
So, all this to say, becoming a parent in our world is a serious commitment...a lifetime commitment, really. You want to be really sure that you want to be a parent, because there's no turning back, plus a lifetime of diapers and bottles, once you start. That's why so many of us never become parents in the first place!
Needless to say, I was a bit concerned by Rapunzel's confession.
"So soon?" I asked her. "Don't you want to spend more time with just the two of you? I mean, once you start, that's it for two of you time."
"Oh, come on, Belle. I'm sure you'd be willing to babysit every once in a while, wouldn't you?" Rapunzel teased.
I couldn't help smiling. "Of course, but it's not the same thing." I grew serious again. "Are you really ready for a lifetime of diapers and bottles and fussing?"
Rapunzel's eyes took on a dreamy expression. "Yes," she said, grinning from ear to ear. "It's what I've dreamed about my whole life...being a wife and a mother."
"Hmm, I thought you dreamed about going and seeing the floating lanterns all your life," I said with mock seriousness.
Rapunzel shook her head at this, missing the humor. "Belle, you of all people should know that we aren't the same as the movie characters we're modeled after. We're all individuals! My dream was to be a wife and then raise a family. It's all I've thought about for as long as I can remember."
I couldn't even imagine how this could be the extent of one's dreams for life, but I supposed everyone was different. I was determined to spend as much alone time with my husband before children...whenever I got married, that is. Instantly, Ben's face came in view. I blushed and shook myself a little, trying to get my thoughts back on track. He'd held my hand once. That didn't mean he was going to propose anytime soon. I didn't even know how he felt about me!
"So, how will you find a baby?" I asked curiously.
"We'll ask Beast'sbelle to find one for us."
"Are you sure that's a good idea?" I was skeptical. How would Beast'sbelle know what to look for? "I mean, has she ever found a baby for a fashion doll before? Will she understand how important it is for her to find just the right baby for you two?"
"I think she'll do fine," Rapunzel said calmly. "We'll be sure to explain what we're looking for. And besides, what other option do we have? We can't go looking for one by ourselves. It would be too dangerous."
"How soon are we talking?" I asked.
Rapunzel's face was glowing. "As soon as possible."
My face must have shown my disbelief, because Rapunzel leaned forward and put her hand on mine. "Please try to understand, Belle. There's nothing I want more. This is what I've wanted my whole life. I can't wait to hold a little baby in my arms, and know that he or she belongs to Eugene and me." Her eyes were teary. "I know it's going to be wonderful."
I squeezed her hand. "I'm sorry, Rapunzel. If this is what you really want, then go for it! I don't really understand it myself. It's such a huge decision...but it seems like you and Eugene have it all figured out. And of course I'll babysit for you."
Rapunzel laughed through her tears and gave me a big hug. "Thank you," she whispered. She sat back and wiped her eyes. "I should go find Eugene. We were going to try to talk to Beast'sbelle this morning. He must have gotten distracted talking to Robby...we met Robby, Marguerite and Raoul on our way here." She squeezed my hand one last time, and then disappeared over the side of the dresser once more.
It's funny, as I sat there alone, I suddenly felt a strange sense of loss. I realized that my friend was moving on to yet another stage of her life that I had never experienced. It wasn't that I was envious, exactly. I had no interest in children anytime soon. In the future, yes, but not now. I guess it was just the realization that Rapunzel would have other obligations and responsibilities soon, obligations and responsibilities that I wouldn't be a part of. She would be a wife and mother, while I would remain an unmarried doll with few cares or tasks. Rapunzel wouldn't be free to just take off and do something like she was now. I valued her friendship and the time we spent together more than anything. Now it seemed as though a dark cloud was looming on the horizon.
I was sitting there, lost in my thoughts, when a voice made me jump.
"Good morning, Belle."
I looked up to see Ben looking down at me with his usual intense gaze.
"Um...good...good morning, Ben," I stammered, jumping awkwardly to my feet.
"Is everything all right?" he asked.
"Yes, yes...everything's fine. Peachy. Never been better!" Shut up, shut up, Belle!! Why do you have to babble like an idiot whenever he's around?
"I'm relieved to hear it," he said politely. He looked around the room, and then cleared his throat awkwardly.
I realized then that he was nervous! What was going on? I decided to help him. "Did you need to...say something?"
He glanced at me again. "Well, uh, now that you mention it...yes, I did need to speak with you."
I waited. Still nothing. Finally, I couldn't stand it any more. "What did you need to talk about?"
Ben cleared his throat again. "I...uh...that is...I wanted to...apologize for my behavior last night."
I felt like someone had thrown ice water in my face. "I'm sorry?" I managed.
Ben ran his hand over his head. "I...took a liberty that I shouldn't have. I hope you can forgive me."
"You mean...holding my hand?" I asked in a small voice.
He looked embarrassed. "Yes. I had no right to do so, and I apologize from the bottom of my heart. I can assure you, it won't happen again."
I could feel tears forming in my eyes. I had never been more humiliated in my life. I had spent the whole night building castles in the air over that silly hand-holding, and now he was trying to apologize for it! I should have know it wouldn't mean the same thing to him. There was no way that he could get over Marguerite that easily. I turned away quickly so that he wouldn't see my tears spill over.
The moment I saw his face, it was all over. I immediately burst into tears. I wished I could sink into the floor and never return. I had thought that I was completely humiliated before, but this was even worse.
"Belle, please, listen to me," he said slowly. "I had no intention of hurting you...I felt my actions were too forward. I didn't think you felt anything for me."
"How could you think that?" I burst out. "I've only had eyes for you since the day Raoul was here! I've wished so much that I could comfort you over Marguerite and show you that I could love you just as much as you love her..." I stopped in utter horror. Had I really just said all that out loud?
"I...I have to go!" I blurted out, and before he could stop me, I turned and climbed over the side of the dresser.
I hit the floor and ran as fast as I could, not daring to turn around. I could never show my face to him again. Never.