Short Story Two: One Autumn Night
(Five months after Baby Rossi is born)
Unlocking the door, he opened it to enter the house. Finally, I'm home, he thought, relieved after being away the entire day. Surprised to find the hall and main floor darkened, he was about to call out when he noticed light streaming down the staircase. Glancing at his watch, he realized she was probably busy putting the baby to sleep.
Putting away his equipment bag, he quietly sprinted up the steps, making sure that no one could hear him, hoping to surprise her. He was glad the carpet muffled most of the sound. He heard her as he walked down the hall, towards the open door. The sound of her voice made him smile.
"So...your Uncle Max and I decided to go fishing, I think we were six or seven, we thought it would be really easy after watching a show on TV. Of course your grandfather knew better...he was very clever, he didn't tell us that we had to find and hook live worms. Imagine our surprise when your grandfather put the worm on the hook, and it was still wriggling." He nearly laughed as his wife came into view, she was sitting on the rocking chair in the nursery room, retelling a story of her childhood. A grimace on her face, as though she could still see the worm.
"Needless to say, that was the last time I ever went fishing. Uncle Max, was much more braver than me. He was the one who caught us both a fish. I was the one who let mine go!" She laughed, and he could hear their child cooing back to her. She was cradling a little bundle in her arms, the look of delight on her face. The sight making his heart swell.
"I was more comfortable swimming, so the next day that's what I did, while your Grandfather took Uncle Max fishing again." She said, rocking gently in the chair. "Of course that just made your uncle find something else for both of us to do. We ended up going hiking on some trails that were near the cottage. I forgot to wear running shoes, so when we were heading back, Uncle Max told me to be careful...but I still managed to tumble down. I just hope you're not as clumsy as Mommy."
She played with the little one, who by the sounds of it was laughing. Leaning in the doorway, he watched as she kissed their child gently, before turning to look at him. A bright smile on her face.
"Are you just going to stand there and listen, while I recount the embarrassing tales of my childhood?"
Shaking his head as he chuckled, Matthew Rossi walked over to stand behind his wife's chair. Bending down he kissed her cheek.
"They're not embarrassing, Mia. I think they're cute." He smiled down at her.
Moving to kneel beside Mia, he kissed their daughter's cheek.
"Hey, Lucy...Daddy's home." He mumbled, as her tiny fingers reached for his face.
"And by the looks of it, Daddy's home early." His wife teased him. "It's only nine."
He looked up to find her glancing at the clock on the wall, before turning to look at him.
"I thought you were going out with the guys tonight, Matt?"
Giving his daughter another kiss, he got up to stand.
"I did. We went for dinner, and I stayed for a little while after. But it's not as fun as it used to be. I mean, most of the guys have kids, and like me...they would rather be home spending time with their families." He grinned, taking Luciana from her arms, and cradling the little girl against him. "Besides, it's not like LFC...back then we'd go out as a team, and I'd have you there...it's just a different atmosphere."
Getting up to stand beside him, Mia kissed him gently. Her emerald green eyes glowing. Even now, they held the same captivation as they had when he'd first met her.
"Okay, well since you're home...let me put her to sleep, and I'll make us something, since I haven't eaten yet...and then we can enjoy some time to ourselves..." She told him, her words heavy with promise.
"Alright." He agreed, gently kissing Mia, before turning to face the little being in his arms. "Good night then honey, be good with your mom...and we'll have fun playing tomorrow since Daddy has a rest day."
Handing the little bundle back to his wife, he was about to head out the room, when he heard her.
"I'm glad you're home early, Matt."
Turning to smile at Mia, he nodded. He had never been happier than when he was with her, and now when he was with both of them.
Crying sounded somewhere in the room. Startled by the noise, Matthew opened his eyes to see what was going on. Looking down, he found Mia's head resting against his chest, her long auburn hair fanned out, while her hands were wrapped around his arm; the sight bringing a smile to his lips. Brief memories of when she used to turn to him during thunderstorms, ran through his mind.
Silence filling the room, he rested his head against the pillow once more, when the cry sounded again.
This time he saw her move and pick up the baby monitor.
"Matt?" She asked, groggily.
"Do you have a match or training tomorrow?"
"Nope." Fully awake by now, Matthew saw how tired she was. Mia usually went without saying a word to him, trying not to disturb him if he had a game the following day.
"Mia, don't worry. I'll go check up on her." He reassured his wife. "Go back to sleep."
"Are you sure?" He could see her concern.
"Yea, it'll be fine, love." Kissing her lips gently, he watched as she rested her head onto the pillow, baby monitor still in hand.
Getting up, he pulled on a t-shirt to go with the shorts he had on, before walking out of their room.
Heading for the nursery, he opened the door only to find Luciana wailing at the top of her lungs. Turning on a lamp, and going over to her crib, he picked her up gently. How can something so small cry so loudly? He found himself wondering.
"Hey, Lucy...shh...don't cry. Daddy's here." He murmured.
Checking his daughter, he found the source of her discomfort. Her diaper was damp and in need of changing.
"No wonder you're upset, I would be too...if that were me." He muttered.
He took the baby over to the changing table. Finding a fresh diaper, wipes, and some baby powder, he changed her out of her wet one.
Recalling his friends reactions when they heard Mia was expecting, he remembered Oliver and Nathaniel taking the mick over his impending fatherhood.
"Are you sure you'll be able to handle the diapers?" Nathaniel had cheekily asked.
"You watch, I'm not going to miss out on anything. I'm going to do everything I can, well...except for the things only Mia can do." Matthew had told him adamantly, while Oliver laughed.
His own mother had been skeptical, only to be impressed and rather amused when she found him changing Luciana's diaper not so long after she was born. The older woman had stayed with them for two months after the baby's birth, to make sure they weren't overwhelmed, before heading back to Italy.
Cleaning up Luciana, he put her in her crib to go wash his hands and dispose of her old diaper. Coming back he found her crying once more, he picked up his daughter and gently rubbed her back as he strolled around the room, hoping to appease her. Maybe she was colicky? He thought.
"It's okay, Lucy...don't cry." He tried soothing her.
Hearing him speak, she started to settle down.
"That's it...see...I'm right here."
No sooner had he spoken those words, Luciana had started to cry again. Did I say something wrong? He wondered momentarily as he gave her a pacifier. Seeing her suck on it, he watched as she figured out it wasn't the same as a bottle, and spat it out. She started to cry again, as he realized his daughter might have been hungry.
Not wanting to wake up Mia to feed her, Matthew decided to go prepare a bottle of formula instead of disturbing his wife. Walking down the stairs carefully, he padded into the family room, and found Luciana's car seat. Strapping the little baby into it, he carried her to the kitchen, placing the seat on the edge of the entrance. Finding her a toy bear on the counter, which Mia must have left, he put it beside her. For a few moments her cries died down to whimpers before returning.
"Look, honey, Daddy's going to get you something to eat...well, more like drink." He told her, softly, trying to get her attention.
Moving around the kitchen, he found the can of baby formula in the cupboard, before looking for a bottle. Warming up some water, and mixing it with the formula, Matthew shook the bottle before testing it. Too hot, he thought, placing it on the counter.
Crouching down, he rocked the seat gently. Picking up the bear with one hand, he tried showing it to the girl, she would stop every few moments and then start to cry once more. Sighing, he kissed her cheek.
"Don't you worry, your food is almost ready." Matthew tried to reassure her, testing the formula again. It was finally suitable for her to drink. Checking that the stove was off, Matthew left the kitchen with the seat and bottle and walking back up the stairs to his daughter's room.
Sitting in the rocking chair, he picked her up out of the seat and cradled her in his arms. Giving her the bottle, he saw how she hungrily drunk from it.
"Ah, so I was right. You were hungry, huh, Lucy?"
As she happily drank the formula, Matthew rocked slowly, basking in his feelings of love for this little life in his arms.
"Have I ever told you why we named you, Lucy? Well, we named you Luciana because you're a light to both of us." He told her, rocking gently. "Not only does your name mean light, but you bring light with you. Kind of like your Mom. I'm just glad I have you both in my life..."
Remembering the day she was born, Matthew recalled how excited he and Mia were to finally meet their child. Luciana had been born in the afternoon. Mia, exhausted from her labor, had lit up at the sight of the little girl, as the nurses brought her over to them. He had seen the weariness leave his wife almost at once as Luciana was placed in her arms.
"Matt! Look! She's so perfect." Mia had whispered to him.
Kissing the top of Mia's head, he had felt a rush of emotions upon seeing the little child.
"Yea, she really is." He had said, as Mia let him hold her for the first time.
Sitting in the room surrounded by serenity and calm, Matthew indulged in talking to his daughter.
"Of course, you weren't just named because of the meaning. You were also named for your Aunt Luciana. Before you were born, your Mommy and I were talking about what we should name you. We wanted to have a name ready in either case. So she said we should name you Luciana because it meant Light, and because of my sister...it was also easy to convert into a boys name like Luke or Lucas. And, I liked the idea."
He remembered how touched he'd felt when Mia had suggested it. He had been wondering about names for days on end, not knowing what to do, and then Mia had come to him saying that she had thought it would be a nice way to honor his sister, and the meaning of the name was beautiful.
"Your Aunt Lucy, was a light of her own as well." He told the baby. She was still drinking the formula, one hand holding onto the bottle while the other firmly on top of his, as if making sure he wouldn't take it away. Matthew smiled at her.
"Unfortunately, like your Uncle Max...you won't get to meet her." His heart hurt a little, thinking about it. She would have loved you though, he thought. He could almost picture how his sister would have looked down at the baby and said, 'Ciao bellissima!'.
"Anyway, she used to be the one who would protect me when we were little. Sometimes the neighborhood kids would pick on me for playing football with the older kids, and she'd be the one to face them off. They used to get scared of her." He chuckled at the thought. Luciana used to be a force to be reckoned with.
"When I was playing football...or soccer, like Mommy says, Aunt Lucy would be the one to cheer me on. She was my biggest supporter. When I first got signed on to a professional league team in Italy, the first person I told was her. I might not have gotten so far if she hadn't been the one pushing me back then." He said, watching his daughter. "She was a strong person...but sometimes strong people are scared to ask for help. I hope that no matter what, you'll always come to me and Mommy for help, Lucy. If you ever need us, we'll be there for you...whenever, whatever it is."
As Luciana finished her bottle, Matthew placed it on the floor beside him, continuing to rock them. He held her up against his shoulder, patting her back gently, hoping that she would burp. As she did, he was relieved to feel that his shirt was still dry. He had had plenty of experiences in which his shirts had been on the receiving end of Luciana's indigestion. He laughed quietly, remembering how his wife had snickered at the look of shock on his face the first time it had happened.
"So, where were we...oh yea...well, that is how we named you." Matthew lifted her high up into the air, before lowering. Luciana smiled, looking at him. "When you're a bit bigger, you can come cheer Daddy on as well, and I'll show you the pitch and how to play. It'll be fun."
He thought of how exciting it would be to show the little girl the world he and Mia knew so well. He couldn't wait to share it with her. By this point Luciana was fully awake. She looked intent upon hearing more.
"I know you're going to grow up to be a good person, Lucy. You have a lot of people who love you." He said thinking of his friends, and family. At this he laughed, remembering how Lina had complained of having to go home, back to London. "Aunt Lina would probably never have left your side if it weren't for Uncle Leon."
Luciana babbled at him, her hands making motions as if explaining something to him.
"That's right. You have me and your Mom too; and you'll always have us." At this Lucy cooed as if in agreement. The sound making him chuckle. Kissing her cheek gently, he sat her on his lap, his hands holding her back and neck for support. It had been interesting for him to see how much Luciana resembled both of them. He could have sworn, at times she looked more like Mia, but her eyes seemed to be as blue as his own.
"You know, the first time I met her...she very nearly killed me...well, my reputation that is." He laughed, as Luciana started to squeal in delight. "Don't tell your mom...but I had fallen for her the moment I saw her. I thought my knees were going to buckle underneath me. Thankfully, that didn't happen...or your uncles Oliver and Nathaniel would never have let me live it down."
They had been training the first time Mia had come to meet the team. Felix had been talking to a bunch of them when Oliver had led her over. He could still distinctly remember the day.
"She looked so nervous and hopeful, and there was nothing fake about her...I was surprised, I had never met someone...so honest. I was a bit mean though..." He admitted to the baby. "Okay, I was horrible. I have no idea how she could put up with me or love me after that..."
He couldn't begin to imagine a life without her, he loved her with everything he had.
"I'm glad Mia chose me..."
Babbling at him as if asking for more, Matthew laughed with embarrassment as he remembered the next part of their story.
"You want to know more, Lucy? Well...your Dad was pretty sneaky. A trait I hope you don't get! I used to drive away her dates...I would do anything just to get rid of them. But in my defense, it was because I didn't want her to be with anyone else. It was immature though...I should have just told her...of course, Mommy found out eventually. She was not too happy with me."
It had been one of those rare occasions where Mia had been furious with him. Thankfully, she wasn't the kind to hold grudges, he thought smiling. It was one of the many qualities he loved about her.
"I just hope I won't have as much trouble with you when it comes to boys." He muttered to himself; realizing that one day she would be old enough to go on dates of her own.
Seeing Luciana yawn, he relieved that she was finally sleepy. No wonder Mia told her stories, they helped put the little girl to sleep.
"Your mother is one of the best things that happened to me." Matthew told her, cradling her against him once more. "And you are another one of the best things in my life. I can't wait to see you grow up...just don't grow up too fast!"
Watching as Luciana's eyes closed as she finally fell asleep, Matthew waited a few moments before carefully getting up. Placing her in her crib, he leaned over to give her one final kiss, before making sure the baby monitor was close by. Patting her gently, he put a little blanket over her to cover the tiny body.
Shutting off the lamp and turning to leave, he was surprised to find Mia dressed in a long night shirt, standing in the doorway smiling at him.
"Eavesdropping were we?"
"I wanted to hear the story too!"
Walking up to him, she kissed him, as they both returned to watch Luciana sleeping soundly.
Putting an arm around his wife, he pulled her in close, kissing her cheek.
"I was hoping you'd get some extra sleep."
"Yea...but I heard you talking and I couldn't help it!" She grinned. "Besides, now many of my
questions from that day have been answered."
He laughed as he heard this, kissing the top of her auburn head, as she leaned into him.
Silence settled over them, as they watched their child.
"You're going to be an amazing dad, Matthew." Mia whispered softly, her arms encircling him.
"That's because I have you." He kissed her deeply, meaning every word.
Watching Luciana sleep for a little while longer, he decided it was best for them to go to bed as well. It was nearly five in the morning. Matthew pulled Mia towards the door, closing it part way, as he glanced at Luciana once more.
Buona notte mia figlia, he thought, as they walked hand in hand towards their room.