It was that fear, finally, that left her awake and tearless at her window late at night. She wasn’t falling behind, slipping into some sort of widow’s stupor; she was moving ahead, beyond reach. Her own daughter had suddenly made her realize it by quietly usurping her right to have a child. It was Emma’s turn to have children, but what was it her turn to do? It had taken her daughter’s pregnancy to make her realize how nearly impregnable she herself had become—impregnable in a variety of ways. Let her get a little stronger, a little older, a little more set in her ways, with a few more barricades of habit and routine, and no one would ever break in. Her ways would be her house and her garden and Rosie and one or two old friends, and Emma and the children she would have. Her delights would be conversation and concerts, the trees and the sky, her meals and her house, and perhaps a trip or two now and then to the places she liked best in the world.
Such things were all very well, yet the thought that such things were going to be her life for as far ahead as she could see made her sad and restless—almost as restless as Vernon, except that her fidgets were mostly internal and seldom caused her to do anything more compulsive than twisting her rings. As she sat at the window, looking out, her sense of the wrongness of it was deep as bone. It was not just wrong to go on so, it was killing. Her energies, it seemed to her, had always flowed from a capacity for expectation, a kind of hopefulness that had persisted year after year, in defiance of all difficulties. It was hopefulness, the expectation that something nice was bound to happen to her, that got her going in the morning and brought her contentedly to bed at night. For almost fifty years some secret spring inside her had kept feeding hopefulness into her bloodstream, and she had gone through her days expectantly, always eager for surprises and always finding them. Now the stream seemed dry—probably there would be no more real surprises. Men had taken to fleeing before her, and soon her own daughter would have a child. She had always lived close to people; now, thanks to her own strength or her own particularity and the various quirks of fate, she was living at an intermediate distance from everybody, in her heart. It was wrong; she didn’t want it to go on. She was forgetting too much—soon she would be unable to remember what she was missing. Even sex, she knew, would eventually relocate itself and become an appetite of the spirit. Perhaps it had already happened, but if it hadn’t it soon would.