"Hey there. Hey."
I held this small brand-new person in my arms and couldn't help but cry. She was so perfect, so innocent. Her tiny hands were going everywhere in the air and I got the feeling she thought it was the weirdest feeling in the world.
"That makes two of us." I whispered to her, kissing her slightly red forehead. I marveled at the notion that not too long ago I was screaming an impossibly long stream of obscenities and yet there I was, whispering and cooing to this new person in my arms and thinking nothing but sugar coated thoughts of a promising future for her.
That's when it really hit me. I had created this person. I had made new life. Life. A human being. People talk about the marvels of modern technology and all you can do nowadays, but nothing, nothing, no matter how impressive can beat creating a new life. I don't care if they make a machine can do that. The fact that two humans can make a third human.....
It blows my fucking mind, even today.
And that's when I knew. I knew I'd protect this new person, my daughter, at all costs. I'd save her from any danger. I'd lay my life down to save her own. I'd do anything to shield her from even a moment's sadness. From that moment forth she was even more my world than I'd told myself when I was pregnant with her.
Being pregnant is one thing. Actually having the baby is another. Actually holding the child in your hands and telling yourself that you're responsible for another life....
Weird... Fucking weird...
As I was taking her home I noticed a couple who were being blessed by the miracle of life as well. I saw them get out of the taxi, she was screaming, he was bumbling. He was doing everything he could to make things easier for the woman having his child. Rushing in the car to get her bag, walking with her with one hand at the small of her back and the other being crushed by her own. He opened every door for her and went at her pace.
He was going to be a proud father.
I slammed the car door angrily, the couple was an ugly reminder that I had to raise my child alone. That was a mistake. At once my baby, who was at the time unnamed, began screaming her head off. I did everything I could to get her to quiet down, but with no luck. Finally opting to start my car, and complaining that I had to drive myself home after giving birth, I drove off, splitting my attention in half. One half on the road, one half on the screaming infant.
I finally got to the front of my apartment what seemed like an eternity later. The baby was still screaming her head off, and I was still trying like hell to quiet her down.
The voice came from seemingly nowhere. I whirled around, clutching my baby to me. (I didn't have a penny to my name, and therefore no baby carrier either.)
"Who's there?!" I demanded in a frightened, high pitched voice. I'm not very vain, but I will tell you this : Men find me attractive. I've come too close to being raped for comfort too many times for comfort. I'd read that rapists will kill people, and I was afraid for the life of my daughter.
Besides, I had just given birth. I was fucking sore.
"Who's there?!" I demanded again, a little more confident this time, my voice less shaky. Finally, I got a response.
"Help me..." He'd simply repeated what he'd said before, but it was like I'd heard him for the first time. When he'd first spoken I was too afraid to register what he'd said. Now....
He moved out of the shadows and I gasped at the sight of him. His hair was long and straggled and dirty. His face was covered with dirt and soot and his eyes were distant, holding a glazed look, almost completely white. His clothes were old, tattered, and filthy. He smelled of urine and looked like death.
"Help me, please." He wheezed and I merely clutched my screaming daughter closer. I backed up a few inches, horrified at the sight before me.
"Please," He walked closer, and my heart felt as if it would leap out of my chest in fright. "I must touch your child. Just a touch. Before it's too late!" I couldn't move anymore than those few back steps. His eyes were hypnotizing, they held me fast, as if I were under some spell.
Before I knew what was happening, another shadow leaped out of the bushes and tackled the strange man. I didn't even stop to see who it was. The spell broken, I whirled around and ran to my apartment door. Holding my baby in one hand and fumbling in my pocket in the dark for my key I cursed myself for having it separate from my car keys. Tears of horror streaming down my cheeks I finally found the key and struggled to unlock the door, which was very difficult for my body was trembling horribly.
When I was finally inside I locked every lock on my door and turned around. Sighing from relief I slumped back and slid down the door until I was sitting on the ground, sobbing and kissing my daughter.
"You got a name picked out?" My dear friend James raised himself onto the counter and proceeded to crunch loudly on his apple. I had just learned he was the one to fight off the crazed man the night before. A few minutes later the police came and took the guy away, the whole time he was screaming about his time running out and that he had to touch my baby.
"She's the one! The one! She's it! It's her! We're saved!"
"Not yet." I touched the infant's soft, dark hair. She had a lot for a newborn, beautifully dark, with perfect curls already. "I just can't think of anything to name her. I mean, it's her name. It'll be with her her whole life. It says something about her."
She began to coo softly and I wondered briefly if she was supposed to be making that noise already. Shrugging it off I turned to look at my friend again. I had a feeling he had something to say.
I was right.
"Look," He set the apple core down on my counter and ran a hand through his soft blonde curls. "I'm really sorry." He held his hands out, palm up, and had the most helpless expression on his face. "I really am. I was helping my mom. Otherwise I would have picked you up. I swear."
I nodded and kissed my daughter's forehead once more. "I believe you." I assured him, looking up into his clear blue eyes. "Speaking of which, how is she?"
"Worse." His eyes saddened and he sat back against the cabinets. Tossing the apple at the trash can, he scowled when he missed. Turning back to me he continued. "I don't think she has much longer."
I studied him for a moment and sighed inwardly. James had had such a rough life. He had great potential to be a somebody. He was brilliant, handsome, and sweet. None of that helps, however, when you don't have a high school diploma. Now here he was, twenty-two years old, doing under the table jobs, taking care of an ailing mother, and older than he was supposed to be. A lot of people we knew were still "hanging out", having parties, doing drugs and getting drunk. And yet here we were, grown already and seemingly finished with school forever. I had a baby to take care of and he had his mother.
"I'm really sorry, man." He shrugged of my words and shook his head.
"No," He told me. "It has to happen someday. It'll hurt, but I have to accept it." He quieted and I knew he wanted to change the subject. The baby cooed louder, seeming to say, "Pay attention to me. I'm a good subject."
"Listen to her." He moved to my side and touched her head. "Listen to her gurgle. It's funny how a sound so simple can be so beautiful. It's like a melody for the soul."
I listened quietly, my whole attention focused on the sounds coming from the living, breathing bundle in my arms.
"Melody." I whispered after some time. "I like it."
To be continued.....