I hate it when babies cry. It's such a desperate, powerful force. A wail louder then the wind, a call reaching deeper than the ocean. It's incredible.

Of course, half of it stems from the lack of knowledge that somebody else is always with them. I've heard that babies fear nothing, for they know nothing.

But they do fear one thing. Being alone.

Grumbling, moaning, I fling the covers off my already cold body and hiss as my feet touch the bare floor. Had it not been winter, I would have been more prone to tending to my sister's child, but the seasons were not with me on this one. And as I move into the room directly adjacent to my own, I see the living, breathing proof of my sister's own nightly dealings.

The baby flailed in its fluffy, blue and animal-sprinkled crib, a joyous world of color and imagination hidden by the darkness of night. It would take a little while for the child's infant eyes to fully appreciate such a world as his bed, but at least he could see my lipstick, my eyes. As red as rose and as black as ebony.

My own mother used to read me that one. Snow White, my favorite. She used to call me that, when a got a little older, paler, prettier. I remember lying down in my own bed, looking up at a goddess, listening to her wonderful tale. Of course, sometimes my slow eyes couldn't keep up with my racing mind, so I would drift off to sleep before I even got to the kiss. I ended up dreaming of it anyway.

And now here I was. Cradling the son of my sister, who had done a little too much kissing. I murmured the tale of Snow White ever so softly.

Finally, above the sway of my arms and below the whisper of my voice, the baby stilled. But rather than going back to sleep, it had decided to take my nightly vigil of one and make it a date for two. Black eyes with blue - quite the duo.

His eyes beamed up at mine, radiance within them keeping out the darkness. I was wrapped within them, and there I met him. His questions shot up at me. And although he probably didn't care whether they were answered tomorrow or a decade from now, I truly didn't know where the bundle against my chest was going. So I answered him right then and there. "Hello," I said down to him, " I'm Aunty Polly."

First question done, next one coming.

"Your mommy would be awed. You're so beautiful. But she's not here right now."

Ok, third question is a little difficult.

"Your mommy. is far away. But she's okay, just not here. She. needed some help. I couldn't give her that; your grandfather couldn't give her that. Not even you, though she would probably love to see you. She'll be ok soon. soon."

Fourth question: unbearable.

"Mommy." I took a few deep breaths. The child waited, "Mommy kissed too many princes, darling. That's all."

My nephew seemed to be satisfied. But, it was only because he was getting bored with the sound of my voice and was becoming more interested in sleep. And in my heart, I knew those new answers would have to definitely wait a decade or so to be fully comprehended. I also knew that I was most likely only voicing my own questions, and desperately seeking answers.

Because it's not everyday your best friend gets addicted to drugs and booze, follows a guy home, gets knocked up, and then is too wasted to support a child or herself. Then she's shipped off to Montana and her child is placed in the confused hands of her sister.

It's definitely not everyday.

Unknowingly, I had begun to cry. It wasn't the first night, and it certainly wouldn't be the last. My tears would rain, flood, suffocate me, and finally take me under into a pain that I didn't even know mankind could reach. Onto a pillow, a table, even the floor, these silver knives of water would rush on to any surface they were allowed. But this time, they were not falling alone.

The baby, again interested in my presence, stared up at me curiously. He probably wondered what on earth was coming out of my eyes. But then again, maybe he knew, for not just ten minutes ago the same substance had come from his. It struck me then that we had both cried that night for similar reasons.

We were both very alone.

But in the night, there we were, together. Both crying in our beds for a lost love. A mother, a sister, a gaping hole we would feel for the rest of our lives. I smiled a little as I moved him beneath my chin, feeling a tiny heart beat against my own. It was a comfort; a small blanket placed upon downcast shoulders. And even though our tears and cries could have combined to fill oceans, we were not so alone any more.