“How many is this for them? Eight? Nine?”
“Eleven,” Ecor sighed.
“Eleven. It’s… a travesty. No one can take care of eleven children, not even the richest of men.” Niss stared down at the hovel, spying two of older children huddled together and shivering beneath a moth-eaten burlap sack they were using to keep warm. “Babies should go to the deserving,” she lamented, “not just anyone who stumbles home drunk in the dark and blunders into fatherhood.”
Ecor agreed wholeheartedly, of course, but it was too late to change things now. They’d been delivering babies to the undeserving since the dawn of time, while suffering the sorrows of those who could not conceive but desperately longed for a child of their own. Just last week an angry woman threw stones at him from her rooftop, cursing the storks for leaving her childless and barren after two decades of trying.
“It isn’t fair,” Nissa said. “It isn’t right.”
“But that is life, child. Unfair, unright. If we could change the world, we would.”
“We can change the world,” she declared. “We can put these children with families who deserve them.”
“No, Nissa. As unfortunate as it is, we cannot. Not without consequences you aren’t prepared to face. Now drop the baby down there for Mr. and Mrs. Miller and move on.”
Nissa glared at him, moonlight glinting off her squinted eye. He’d seen that look before, not from her, but others who’d defied the system.
“I’m not giving them this baby, Ecor. They don’t deserve it. I won’t.”
And with that she spread her wings and ascended toward the clouds.
Barely raising his voice above a whisper, he said, “Wait. Stop. Don’t,” as she disappeared into the clouds.
There would be consequences, of course, but it wasn’t the first time some more deserving woman was gifted with a child in desperate need of love. And in truth, Mr. and Mrs. Miller wouldn’t lament not having another mouth to feed.