Frigg ran through the plan one last time.
Skuld, the Future herself, was a woman. Sort of. She would understand, she had to. All Frigg needed was to see herself All-Mothering around, while people of all Nine Worlds (mostly Freya) dropped to their knees, celebrating her All-Motherhood. She needed to figure out the terms and conditions that would elevate her above “Your Grace,” the best she so far managed to squeeze out of her not-quite-worshippers. Once she knew that, she’d immediately stop looking.
On the other hand, since this was going to be her very last journey into the future, Frigg might as well find out what haute couture was… and would be… forever. Why not? What was the worst that could happen, an even longer lecture from Skuld than the ones before? Frigg would nod, apologise, agree that she’d been a very naughty Goddess, then never need to worry about anything ever again. Nothing would ever surprise her. She would sail through life filled with inner peace and wrapped in the most elaborately designed clothes. (With pockets.)
It would have been handy to have something to take notes on, or to be in possession of an apparatus capable of capturing images that could later be admired by Frigg’s regularly-updated-influential-image-collection followers. If Skuld got so worked up about wool, though, she’d never forgive that. Frigg would ignore the new inventions unrelated to fashion and All-Motherhood. She’d spit in their general direction, safe in the knowledge that due to being incorporeal she wasn’t affecting anything. Skuld could never be angry about that. Frigg would make her a frappuccino, they’d both laugh like the best of friends about how silly Frigg had been…
Nothing could possibly go wrong.
Everything had been meticulously prepared.
Frigg, the Goddess of future, was simply taking what was hers.
Why, then, were her hands so sweaty?
Regarding the All-Motherhood… perhaps she just needed to produce one child more special than any other, like her sweet baby Baldr, lighter, stronger, gentler than any horse could ever be? Hopefully it wouldn’t have to be a…regular occasion… One of the maids, so oddly rounded around her waist that Frigg worried about her diet, explained the process of childbirth. Once one made enough sweet, sweet love, nine moon-turns – the holy number – had to pass before the child was ready to go. It did not plop out at an inconvenient moment, the maid explained. As pain flashed on her face, she assured Frigg through clenched teeth that it didn’t feel unpleasant at all and she couldn’t wait to do it again.
She then groaned and asked if she could possibly have a little nap, because the already expelled twins kept her up all night.
Frigg allowed it and returned to wondering why the holy number was nine and not five or seventeen. Only now she understood. Nine was the holy number, because people decided it was. Even Frigg herself booked all of Valhalla for nine days and nights without thinking about it. She wouldn’t be the All-Mother until people decided she was. What if they wouldn’t and all the child-birthing was for nothing?
Frigg realised her breathing was fast and shallow, wiped sweat off her hands on the underskirt she was wearing, and inhaled deeply. “Ommmmmmm,” she exhaled.
What if the birthing had to be some sort of regular occasion, like the equinoxes? What if she had to spend nine out of each twelve moon-turns being full of twins? Did that explain both the sweatpants and the naps during which she caught some of the Future Friggs…?
“I feel like I should pray to someone,” Frigg said to the fire crackling in the hearth. “But who could it be? I have no mother. I have no father. There are no Goddesses above me. Especially not that stupid bint Freya.” She swallowed. “But it’s going to be alright. Fine. Better than fine. Outstanding.”
The crackle of the fire had nothing reassuring to say.
“I am the All-Mother,” Frigg muttered to herself. It didn’t sound assertive or proud. Just…shaky. She looked back at the bed, then at the fire again.
She only had two choices. Procrastinate until it was too late and live with the knowledge she might have wasted her only chance, or do it.
Frigg shut her eyes.
Ten summers from now her hair looked stunning. So did Ásgard. Not a single person, including her maids, addressed her as “All-Mother,” though.
Twenty summers changed little, apart from Valhalla’s interior decoration and seemingly constant expansion. Nothing pointed towards the newly added chambers being filled with children.
Frigg had to allow time to move on quickly. She didn’t know how much future there was to look at and she only had nine days.
She observed Ásgard growing more and more beautiful. Seeds that took a blink to turn into massive, proud trees. Other people, other Gods and Goddesses. A war that came and went so fast Frigg nearly missed it… She suddenly remembered that she wasn’t supposed to pay any attention to anything but the All-Mothering. It was impossible, though, to miss the fact that Freya and Freyr had apparently moved in at some point. Ignoring them to the best of her ability, Frigg tried to pay attention only to herself. Her worshippers. Her husband.
It’s not my fault that you have never given me children. You never will either, you said so yourself.
There were many more men in the Worlds. She could organise reality shows and pick the best specimens to give children to, Frigg improvised, nauseous with anxiety despite being incorporeal.
Her own hall, Fensalir, would be smaller – unlike Odin, Frigg had nothing to prove… of course she was not interested in Freya’s hall… probably some dumpster… did she just hear a young woman call Future Frigg “mother”?! She quickly rewound the future. Her body, clothes, hair, mood, occupation changed, but at no point did Frigg seem to carry the woman inside her belly. She just…appeared – full-sized, way too large to fit in Frigg’s… calm down, Frigg told herself, stop hyperventilating, and remember they’re smaller when they plop out. Pay attention.
She jumped forward to discover more young women, all of them happy, smiling, laughing even, joking amongst each other, addressing her as “mother.” There had to be an explanation somewhere… sometime. How, when did they appear?
A Future Frigg was presiding at a table, having organised a candlelit supper. Current Frigg, as much as she was not looking at all, she couldn’t fail to notice that Odin was not invited. Come to think of it, Odin wasn’t around much in her future, not that she was paying attention. He had – he – he had so many children – where Frigg –
There were big festivals organised for her. Offerings were given. Feasts. Drink. Nakedness. Lots of sweet, sweet love-making in the name of Mother Frigg and – Frigg frowned incorporeally – Freya. Women pleading for Frigg’s blessing. Strangers. Some bringing their babies to show others that Frigg’s blessing was all they needed. Some cursing her name when the babies wouldn’t come. Midgard, Álfheim, Svartálfheim… None of the women and men were of Frigg’s flesh and blood and delicate parts. They were – strangers. Kind, welcoming, warm, thankful, resentful, screaming, cursing, hateful, battling, kissing strangers.
But – but she was just going to – how –
She must have missed it, she must have, there was no other possibility. They had said “mother,” yes, they had, they will, they will have said it.
Frigg went back and forth in time, paying as much attention as she could, promises and bargains she had made with herself forgotten. Slower, then faster and faster, everything blurring into greyness. Empty. Frigg no longer cared whether a hundred or a thousand summers had passed. She was only searching for one thing and the more she looked for it, the more it didn’t happen. If she could, she would have cried. All of a sudden there was nothing she wanted more than to have children of her own. She would be called “Mother,” but she would never be one. It didn’t matter, all of a sudden, that “All-Mother” would never trend. Clothes didn’t matter, Freya didn’t matter, Odin, hair, sweatpants, Blabbing with Bjarnisdóttirs, nothing mattered. She had seen, will see, the happiness of young mothers thanking her for the gifts, but she would never share them. There would be cries of those accusing her of withholding the gift. Curses. Fury.
This couldn’t –
Further, further, faster, slower, alone, still alone as castles fell, cities grew, nobody calling her name anymore, dust, blood, so many people and not one of them hers –
And then –
The end of everything. Not just Frigg and her childish dreams, but everything.
She slowed it down and watched, every detail etching itself in her mind, until there was nothing left to watch.