SWEET DREAMS, LITTLE ANGEL
Is that her, Papa? That little bundle of pink flesh that mumbles and reaches up with tiny fingers to pull at my hair. Why does she not have any hair? I thought that all girls had long hair. And why does she not even open her eyes? Are they like mine? Can she see me? Papa says her eyes are too new, and she will not see anything for some time. I cannot imagine not being able to see anything. She must hate it.
Her fingers are so delicate. Mama told me to be gentle with her; she is only little, and so fragile. What does fragile mean, anyway? Nurse says that vases are fragile, and that is why they break so easily. Does that mean that, if she should fall, she will shatter into a thousand tiny pieces? I hope not.
Mama cuddles her close, whispering words of love into her beautiful, minute ear. Can she understand what’s being said to her? Can she speak? No – well, I am sure that when she learns, she will have plenty to say. Papa laughs, ruffling my hair.
The baby starts to whimper. Mama tells me that she is tired, and begins to rock my baby sister, singing a lullaby to her. My eyes slip shut as I clamber onto the bed beside Mama, listening to the familiar song that used to lull me to sleep. I wrap my arms around Mama, clinging to her as she sings for her daughter.
What will my sister be like when she’s my age? Papa thinks that she will have blonde hair, like Mama’s and mine.
My eyes open as I feel a hand on my shoulder. Mama and Papa are smiling at me. “Would you like to hold your baby sister, Eomer?” Nodding eagerly, I clamber into my mother’s lap, as she lays the little girl in my arms, carefully adjusting the sleeping baby until she is sure that my sister is comfortable. I hold her close, amazed at how light she is.
Do you know who I am, little one? I am your brother, Eomer. You are a princess, the daughter of the greatest warrior Rohan has ever seen, and the most beautiful woman in all of Middle Earth. You, little one, are my sister, and I love you.
Papa sits on the bed, making sure that Mama is comfortable. She looks tired; very tired. Nurse told me this was because she had been in labour all day – but she was in bed! Labourers work in the fields and in the mines, not in beds in the Golden Hall. Grown-ups are strange creatures.
He kisses her cheek softly, draping an arm across her shoulder, never taking his eyes off the precious bundle I cradle to my chest. Soon, Mama and Papa are kissing one another, and I look away, squirming. Why do grown-ups always kiss when they are happy? Or when they are sad, too? Nurse says it’s a sign of affection, like an embrace, only more intimate. I think that intimate means bigger, more important, but I am not sure. Grown-ups always use strange words I have never heard, and I never understand what are saying.
I concentrate on my baby sister. Will she be able to run fast, like me, or will I always be able to catch her when we play chases in the gardens? Will she climb trees with me, and graze her knee?
I hope she won’t turn out like other girls, only interested in dolls and sewing and wearing pretty dresses that they refuse to get dirty. Please, do not grow up to be like that, I pray, rubbing my thumb across her smooth cheek. I wonder if you will have freckles, like me.
Will you like swimming? Or will you prefer riding? Papa says that you have a warrior’s spirit. Mama stares at him, as if he said something strange. You do not look like a warrior; you are so tiny.
When you are older, we can go riding together across the plains of Rohan. We can learn archery and fencing together. I will show you all of the secret passages in the castle. Theodred showed them to me, and I will show them to you. He called it, “Passing on my knowledge to someone who will find more use for it than I.” Then that is what I will do with you, little one. I will teach you everything I know, from the best way into the larder to how to scare the servants.
Mama smoothes my hair, before gently lifting you out of my arms. She lays back and holds you to her body. I watch you sleep, as I imagine the future we will share, the mischief we will cause.
Papa smiles proudly, placing his hand on the side of my face. His hands are rough, whereas Mama’s are lovely and soft. She has skin like silk; skin like yours. He turns to me, a light in his green eyes. “Eomer, my son, it is your duty to protect your baby sister all her life.”
And I will, Papa; I will take good care of her.
“Hello, my sweet daughter,” Papa whispers, touching her face gently.
“Eowyn,” Mama interrupts. “Her name is Eowyn.” My parents smile, before sharing another kiss. I fiddle with the buttons of my tunic; Nurse says that it is rude to watch a couple when they are kissing. Finally, they part. Mama beckons me forward, and I crawl along my parent’s bed, sitting beside my mother and sleeping sister. “Say hello to her. Say hello to Eowyn.”
Hello, Eowyn. You and I are going to be great friends. But for now, sweet dreams, little angel. Sweet dreams.