“Listen up everybody, Lily has to tell you something!”
It was the day after I told my PI that I was pregnant with Elsa. He had insisted on me calling the head of the institute first – an awkward task for me, but fortunately my announcement was responded with cordial felicitations – and now it was time to tell our coworkers. I am not good with these serious, personal conversations, but some things have to be done. Better tackle it head on, straightforwardly.
“Um, okay… you have three guesses.”
There was one moment of silence, until the Warden pointed her finger at me.
“Oh my god! I never would have said that if for one moment I thought it to be true!”*
The Red Queen ran towards me and gave me a long hug.
“This is so wonderful, you must be so happy! I am so happy! You will have a child. A new human. This is the single most important thing in life. The time to come will be so exciting and we will all be here to experience it together with you.” When she finally let go of me, there were tears in her eyes.
I was grateful to have her with me on my journey.
Time passed. While the new life inside me grew, my mother’s life withered away. (But this will be a different story.)
A month before the beginning of my short maternity leave there was a symposium at the capital. My PI was unable to attend and told me to meet with the White Queen for further discussion on our project.
I was met by her hand on my belly.
“One kick, please.”
Elsa did not obey, as usual.
We sat next to each other during the talks.
“Have you already chosen a name?”, she whispered.
I wrote down the three names currently in consideration. She laughed.
“That’s my sister’s name!”
“Is that a good or a bad thing?”
“I would go with one of the alternatives.”
“Well, this one is already taken by my cat and the other one doesn’t really fit the new surname I’m about to get.”
“You’re going to get married?”
“Yes, the day after tomorrow.”
“I also got married when I was eight months pregnant.”
The student next to me chimed in: “You too?”
“Well, I don’t see the point in getting married later on. I just did it to get rid of some post-birth paperwork.”
The following day the first thing I did was swoon over the White Queen in front of my PI.
“She is as matter-of-fact as me when it comes to marriage! She also had a last minute wedding, has a daughter and started working again after two months, as I plan to. I think we might have parallel lives!”
“You know she’s divorced?”
Nearly two months later my daughter was born. The Red Queen and her friend, who had taken my place in the lab while I was away, were there, waiting outside the door. They were with her when they carried me away to the emergency operating room, the first people my daughter met after her parents.
Despite the White Queen’s protests, her sister and my daughter share the same name.
*Recognize that sentence? Only now do I realize it must have stuck in my head all this time, because I told Snow White the exact same thing.