Bethida steps inside the bedroom quietly, wrapping her dressing gown tightly around her. She glances over the room to see if her husband is awake; she knows if she wakes him up, he'll be even less amenable to what she's going to attempt to ask than he would normally be.
Sawney is definitely awake, as shown by the fact that he's neither snoring nor moaning.
Bethida: Sawney, can we talk?
Bethida pads over to the bed and sits down on the edge of it, looking away from him.
Sawney knows after several decades of marriage what that means.
Sawney: Sure. What do you want to talk about?
Bethida: Well, it's about... I... Whether you still feel he is yours or not, I... still have a son, out there somewhere.
Sawney grunts inexpressively.
Sawney: He doesn't inherit, and that's what counts.
Bethida: I know that... maybe, after enough time has passed, he... won't think of us as his family, any more, either. He'll want to be... one of them. But before you forget you had a son, maybe you would want to... read the letter he left for me.
Sawney shrugs ~~ irritation ~~.
Sawney: All right, fine. Let me have it.
Sawney reaches out his hand for it.
Bethida pulls the letter out of her dressing gown pocket and hands it to her husband.
Bethida: I think that he... ~~ nervousness, trepidation ~~
Sawney grabs the letter and scans it quickly.
Bethida: I -- I think he would appreciate it if we sent him some money across the border, to offset the costs of the... school they're sending him to.
Sawney: What, they want us to pay for some Sime school? Not a chance. They're fools if they expect that.
Bethida: (quickly) No, we don't have to. But it's a... choice we have. It would only be for Naoyu, not for the rest of them, and the... other way they told me I could send him something to help, well, I'd never do it. I'd never sell myself to Simes that much.
Sawney: You mean... your stuff?
Bethida: Yes, that -- that stuff. I'd never give them that. ~~ muted disgust ~~
Sawney: I should damned well hope not. --Sorry.
Sawney is ~~ outraged ~~ by the very notion of it.
Sawney: So you're saying we should send money so he can -- buy his stuff?
Bethida: Oh, no, not for... that! Just for the school, and it'll only last a few months, from what I was told.
Sawney thinks about it.
Sawney: Well, maybe. We'll see.
Bethida: How long will it take you to make a decision? I know, you earn the money, and you control it, but I... want to be able to tell Naoyu something soon.
Sawney: Don't push me! When I know, I'll let you know! ~~ domineering ~~
Bethida backs off, not wanting to push it too far; she was afraid this would happen.
Sawney: What else does he say?
Sawney has just read it, and presumably his wife has not, but he's pressing his advantage.
Bethida: I'm sorry, Sawney. I tried to see if I could make myself think of him the same way as a child lost to an illness, and I couldn't. They told me he wasn't a child any more, and I don't know if I could see the child I remembered in him any more...
Bethida: Oh, in the letter? He... talked about the things he would miss. His family, his friends, the old neighborhood...
Sawney waves dismissively.
Sawney: Nothing anyone can do about that.
Sawney may be dismissive, but at least he's no longer being defensive. Right now, anyhow.
Bethida: I'm not sure if I could really bring myself to see him again. ~~ deferential ~~ Maybe it's my mother's compassion deluding me about what he really is now. I just... somehow can't stand the thought of letting him go away thinking his family forgot about him.
Sawney: So write a reply to his letter, then. I'm sure there's some way to get it forwarded to that school.
Bethida: I know, and they told me how. I just drop it off at the... the Sime Center, and they'll put it on the next mail train. Would you maybe consider... ~~ sudden nervousness ~~
Sawney: [impatiently] What? Spit it out.
Bethida: Would you consider writing a letter to him, too?
Sawney: Well. Maybe. [silence] I suppose I could dash off a word or two.
Sawney says this because he figures he'll get something from his wife -- an enthusiastic hug, at the very least.
Bethida: Thank you, darling. I really don't want to force you to do anything, you know... ~~ resignation ~~
Sawney holds his hands in the air.
Sawney: No, no, I'll do it. Just be sure to remind me tomorrow.
Bethida: Yes. Yes, I will. I still have to talk to the children, some way or another -- they've been asking me why he can't come home...
Sawney: We agreed when you got pregnant that the children would be your job, except for the bills. You talk to them.
Bethida wasn't sure if Sawney had completely blown off any responsibility for telling them what happened to Naoyu, or whether he might have thought it better to go ahead and tell them their brother was dead. She's actually relieved that he hasn't said much either way.
Bethida has some stomach knots of nervousness at the thought, though -- there's no guidebook on how to tell your children that their older sibling turned Sime, not that she knows of.
Bethida: All right. I'll find some way.
Sawney: Is there anything else?
Sawney isn't actually contemptuous, but he's definitely getting impatient.
Bethida can't really stop herself from the thought now of what will happen when the younger children reach the dangerous age. If "one in three" holds true, the other two should be safe, but...
Bethida: No, that's... all for now, darling. Thank you.
Sawney: Great. Are you coming to bed?
Bethida: Oh, yes, I am.
Bethida pulls off her dressing gown, and slips into bed quietly beside her husband, feeling more distant from him than she can ever remember feeling, despite the physical proximity.
Sawney smiles inwardly as he looks forward to enjoying his husbandly rights.