:: Hi, Mairi. ::
This has become a nightly ritual for Bob. Once Dot is drifting off to sleep on the bed beside him, it's time to 'talk' to the little program compiling inside of her. He doesn't expect Mairi to comprehend any of it yet, but that's not the point. The parenting READMEs all say that the more you talk to an infant, the faster he or she will learn to speak themselves. Bob figures it's as true of keytool signals as it is of normal speech.
:: Your mother and I went out shopping today. We went to an open marketplace in the underwater part of the city. You should've seen it--there was a big wide courtyard under a glass dome, and it was full of booths selling just about anything you can think of. And I mean *anything.* Clothes, food, magic potions, furniture, jewelry, live animals... I swear there was one guy selling *real estate* out of a *booth.* At least, I think it was real estate. I couldn't understand what language he was speaking. I'm not even sure 'he' was a he, for that matter.
:: Anyway. Dot and I spent the morning looking through the stalls together. We spent nearly an hour at a stall where they were selling pets. There were dogs and cats and fish and turtles and things, but there were also weirder things. Baby griffins, kappas, little miniature walruses... but my absolute favorites were these creatures called 'octopussies.' They're about the same size as a house cat, but instead of legs they've got eight tentacles, and another tentacle for a tail. Even their *whiskers* are little tentacles. It sounds weird, I know, but they're really cute! They crawl all over you and make these little burbling sounds like they're meowing underwater. There was this one little baby with purple stripes that we both just *adored.* I wish we could've taken her home, but octopussies need water to sleep in and there isn't any real water back in Mainframe.
:: After lunch your mother and I both went shopping separately, so we could surprise each other with gifts at the end of the day. I got Dot a velvet gown, trimmed in gold thread, and a gold necklace with a seahorse pendant. The shopkeeper said it's meant to be good luck for pregnant women; I don't know if that's really true, but it looks gorgeous on your mother. And I got a matching baby dress for you to wear once you're a little older.
:: Your mother got me a custom heraldic shield with my icon emblazoned on it--I don't want to think about how much *that* must have cost--and a charm on a necklace that's supposed to bring good luck to knights in battle. And she also got me... um... a kilt. A blue kilt. With matching leggings. I have no idea when she expects me to wear it, but there you are.
:: The honeymoon's almost over. We'll be going back to Mainframe in a few cycles. We've waited so long for this vacation and now it feels like it's gone by in the blink of an eye. It's been fun while it lasted, though. Maybe someday, after you're born and grown up a little, we can all come back here together. ::
Bob's eyelids flutter closed.
:: I love you, Mairi. I can't wait to meet you. ::