The months flew by in a hazy blur of diapers, tantrums, feedings, and more diapers. Martin Luther, who had planned originally to move out with Tam as soon as possible, changed his mind after seeing how hard of a time his big sister was having being a single mom.
He faithfully maintained his stylist position and happily continued making over the ratty and tatty citizens of Legacy Town. He had discovered that he had finally found something to occupy his erratic mind; styling and makeovers began to consume his every waking thought. He didn’t remember feeling this fulfilled since the happy, carefree days of his youth when all he ever thought about was Marie. Gradually, although he continued to help out around the house and would on occasion hang out with Tam, Martin Luther began withdrawing from nearly everyone in his life not directly related to the Salon.
Meanwhile, February was doing the best she could to keep up with her hectic writing schedule and raise her daughter. March continued to be a demanding baby that kept February up at all hours of the night; to make matters more complicated, Hector continued to seem utterly disinterested in helping out with his infant daughter. Although he almost always refused to pay child support, February insisted on trying to reconstruct their friendship, at the very least. Hector seemed content to humor his former friend and lover, and would nearly always visit her house when invited. Slowly, the friendship that had been shattered began to rebuild.
Finally, at March’s first birthday party, the deep freeze that had broken both Hector’s and February’s hearts seemed to thaw a bit. As worn out as she was, February had managed to put together a respectable crowd to herald the first year that February had managed to keep her daughter alive without going insane. Any member of the gathering could have escorted March to make her birthday wishes, yet Hector insisted on carrying his little girl to her cake himself.
March had grown into a beautiful toddler, with the jet black hair that Hector’s father had sported and February’s deep blue eyes. Hector stood with February after the festivities of the day had dwindled to a close and surveyed their sleeping daughter as she lay peacefully in her crib.
“We didn’t do so bad,” Hector whispered to February, breaking the comfortable silence that had grown between them. Smiling, February nodded in agreement. “Er…that is to say, you haven’t done so bad…you’ve done marvelously, really.” February froze, unsure how to respond to any kind of praise from Hector. “I know that I….well…I really haven’t been there for you. Either of you. And I wasn’t really fair to you, about the, ah, circumstances surrounding March’s conception…” Hector continued hesitantly, trailing off uncertainly. When February remained silent, Hector cleared his throat awkwardly before quickly finishing his impromptu apology. “I just wanted you to know that I really do appreciate everything you’ve done with raising our daughter on your own, and even letting me come and see her, and I’m really sorry for treating you so shabbily before.” Finally, February turned to him, the sheen of tears that filled her eyes glowing in the little light that shone from the window. Wordlessly, she leaned close to Hector, cradling his face with her hands, and kissed him.
“Whose bed have your boots been under?”
Flushing, February set March’s bowl of oatmeal in front of her and turned to face her brother.
“For your information, I don’t own any boots…but if I did, they would always be under my own bed, thank you very much.”
“Well…on his side of the bed, he’s sleeping like a baby….dreams are dancin’ in his head, lying with his lady,” Martin Luther retorted. February’s blush deepened and she ducked her head to avoid Martin Luther’s gaze. “It’s not like that,” she protested weakly. “We’re…you know, just friends. Having fun. He knows that.”
“So it’s all about the nookie?”
“No!” February exclaimed, horrified that she and Martin Luther were even having this conversation. “No, of course not, we have March, and…I mean, no, we’re not an ‘item,’ but it’s not…all about the nookie.” In her high chair, March laughed suddenly, as if she understood the context of her mother’s conversation with her uncle.
“With so little experience, her mind not yet cognizant,” Martin Luther answered, shrugging at his sister. “Anyway, they split.” Ice formed around February’s heart at Martin Luther’s last pronouncement. Trying to disguise her sudden apprehension with aggravation, she turned back to March, wiping the oatmeal smeared around the toddler’s mouth and growled, “Who split? What are you talking about now? Why do you even talk like that, Martin? You didn’t when we were kids.”
Martin Luther, his face paled slightly, paused a long moment before finally responding to February’s question. “My Marie…I hide myself. She let go of my hand. From darkness, dreams are deserted…I remember her whispering yet. I was with her too long….for she ain’t the same. Of this, I can’t say very much,” he murmured almost to himself in a dazed voice. Realizing February was staring at him, wide-eyed, he broke out of his stupor and cleared his throat. “Anyway, rumor has it he ain’t got his love anymore,” he concluded, his usual demeanor seemingly restored. Before February could question him further, he snagged an apple from the fruit bowl and left for the studio, munching the fruit and humming tunelessly as he walked.
“What did he mean?” February thought to herself, momentarily forgetting March, who had finished her breakfast and was beginning to kick her heels restlessly against the confines of her high chair. “Is he talking about Hector and Kurt? Did they split up? If they did, was it…because of ME? Do I want it to be…?” Since the evening of March’s birthday party, February and Hector’s relationship had practically been restored overnight; the twosome had started spending most of their days — as well as their nights — with each other. However, while February loved being with Hector, and certainly enjoyed the things they did in bed together, she couldn’t say for certain that she wanted a real relationship with him. February turned her mind to the more disturbing image of her brother, slack-faced and pale, as he’d uttered those strange words…what was it? Something about Marie? Was he talking about that old doll? Before February could follow her train of thought to any clear conclusion, March, her patience with being trapped in her high chair finally dissolved, released an ear-splitting howl. “Oh, Marchie baby, I’m so sorry,” February gasped, hurrying to release her screaming child.
“And anyway, I’m sure that Hector feels exactly the same way that I do,” February told herself as March crawled off to play with her toy xylophone.