imagesPolly had expected to be jealous of the new young wife. At her own wedding twelve years ago, she had known that the group of five spouses wasn’t quite complete yet. When Jacen and Murit joined the marriage five years later, bringing the total number of spouses to seven, there was still a hovering sense that one more spouse would bring them to a perfect eight, just like the nobility.

Polly’s parents had been a perfect eight. They had known each other for several years before having a rozloučení in which the eight of them said a fond farewell to any other romantic entanglements they had. Soon after, they were engaged, and a year later they had one huge wedding.

Polly’s own marriage was a little different. She and Aaron had been a couple since they were teenagers, but they decided they would postpone marriage until they found a few more spouses. When they did, they had a nice normal wedding and began their happy lives.

The five of them all felt that they wanted a larger family, especially after the first couple of kids came along. When they met Jacen and Murit, it seemed meant to be. Polly didn’t remember any particular conflict or jealousy then…

But Abigail was young. Not particularly pretty,but they all loved her. The third wedding brought their group to a perfect eight.

Polly confided to her wives that she was concerned about the sexual relationship…her own breasts were not as perky as they once were, and her stomach bore the marks of two pregnancies. She needn’t have worried. Abigail was sweet, but she was a selfish lover. Not in any extreme way…she was just…young.

Then it started. First, it was the kids. They adored her, of course. Who wouldn’t love the Mommy who rough housed with you at bedtime and gave you snacks when dinner was almost ready? Polly seemed to be the only spouse who noticed. At first, she gently reminded the family that they should calm down before bed, or refrain from eating candy before dinner.

No one joined her. It seemed to be her niche in the family; she was the announcer of rules. The enforcer.

The bad guy.

Next, it was the husbands. Polly enjoyed a glass of wine now and then, and there was usually a bottle open on the table at dinner time. But Abigail treated alcohol like a toy. Sometimes she had a little too much. Polly’s formerly responsible and subdued husbands seemed to find Abigail’s drinking entertaining, and they started drinking with her, sometimes right after lunch. Again, it was Polly who was the one to gently chide “All right, that’s enough,” or “Maybe we should save that bottle for after dinner?”

Even when no alcohol was involved, they gravitated to Abigail.

Polly prodded them to get up in the mornings.

Abigail encouraged them to stay up late at night.

Polly went to the parent-teacher conferences and made the tough decisions.

Abigail played with the kids whenever she felt like it, then walked away when she was tired.

…and then Polly’s sister delivered a beautiful set of twins several weeks earlier than planned. Polly and Murit flew out to help out and be with the family for a month. Polly talked to her spouses and kids every day, but when they asked her about some detail like whether their snowpants from last year still fit, she simply waved and smiled and told them to ask one of the parents who was still home.

When they returned home, Abigail was gone.