Vote over at TWC and you can see a very cute panel of Aubrey as a baby, which may be slightly spoilery, but only if you have no concept of who’s in that bush I guess.

I wonder if I had made a webcomic in my early twenties, would I have thought to put so many older women in it? I don’t think I would have thought to put a pregnant woman in it, because by that point, I only had one cousin who’d been pregnant. At 32, I know at least a dozen women who have been pregnant, with pregnancies ranging from absolutely horrifying to totally pleasant-ish. (Pregnancy is never actually pleasant. It’s nine months of your body and hormones rebelling against you, rearranging your organs, straining your back and making you walk funny…and then at the end, your body literally has to stretch to accommodate pushing out a new human the size of a small Thanksgiving turkey. Considering regular monthly cramps can rate on a pain scale the same as a heart attack…multiply that by 100, and you might get child birth. Then, depending on where your uterus sits, those labor pains can be concentrated in your back, so you’re literally giving birth using your back muscles instead. The miracle of life!)

Anyway, I like this whole “getting older” thing, because as more adulty adult, I have a more complex outlook on what being an adult woman is, and the challenges you face just trying to get your shit together. Or what it looks like when you never get your shit together (hey, Connie/Flora). There’s a reason I made Malaya 25 instead of say, 22 or 20. (And there’s a reason Elias is still a bit of a knucklehead who thinks he knows everything at 22.) I think 25 is about the age where you look out on your future and start to really hammer out where you want to go and who you want to be, where you reach that tipping point where changing everything about your life either feels totally comfortable or absolutely unfeasible. And if changing yourself and your life feels totally unfeasible, then it might feel more right to dig into your more terrible characteristics and hunker down, defending the slightly comfortable spot you’ve found for yourself, even if it turns you into a twisted version of who you could have been. And then you just get bitter as the world moves on without you and your friends find success and progress while you’re still defending the safety of your adolescence.

But maybe I’m projecting based on various people I’ve known throughout the years.

We’re almost done with the “pregnant woman dying alone in the woods” portion of this story, which I know we’ll all be very grateful for! And if you’re wondering why she doesn’t understand that Tom left, it is because, as I’ve made as clear as possible in the text and in my notes, Connie/Flora is SUPER DELUSIONAL. She’s not okay in the brain. She doesn’t acknowledge reality. She sincerely believed that Tom would help her, on her own unreasonable terms, because she doesn’t understand why he wouldn’t. Even in the flashback that Aubrey described from chapter 7, Connie rewrote history that Tom just left her for no reason, leaving out the whole “mauling” thing, because she still sees him as a better person than he is and herself as a victim in a *totally different way* than she actually was. (“He left for no reason” = he’s the irrational one, versus “I provoked him until he lost control and nearly killed me” = I had some blame in this scenario and I reject that concept.) Connie/Flora occupies a different world in her own mind than the rest of us. You have to join her there. What she does and who she is makes sense to her, in her own mind, in a way that it won’t make sense from the outside, even if who she is is a terrible person.