Third Yawn

man person cute young

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

“We’ll be okay,” he promised, even though he had never cared for a baby, let alone one quite so young.

It didn’t matter. He’d google it. He’d even call Aunt Edna if he had to.

For now, there was nothing to do but reassure Margo, who looked as if a semitrailer had gone over her once and came back for seconds. He had no idea what bleeding in a new mother meant, but he didn’t think it could be something to ignore, even as he simultaneously tried hard to not imagine the exact nature of it.

Still she argued with him till he said, “what if you give whatever this is to the baby?”

She let him call the paramedics. She agreed to call her mom.

“There’s breast milk in the freezer!” Margo remembered as EMS wheeled her out.

He was curious enough to head straight for the kitchen to check it out. He wasn’t sure what he was looking for till he spotted a few small zippy bags in the freezer’s door. They had a date scrawled on with a sharpie and contained an off-white substance. Didn’t look like milk. Well, maybe like a watered down version of ‘milk’ from the vegan aisle.

He stood there and wondered how the milk got from the freezer to the baby’s tummy. Do you cook it? Does it get ruined if you microwave it? Isn’t it supposed to be in a bottle? He hoped Margo’s mom will arrive before he had to figure that out.

He shut the freezer door but his mind would not shut the topic. How did the breast milk get into the bag in the first place? Did people sell this stuff? Was it hers? How does one milk a breast? Do you even call it “milking”? His mind conjured images too odd to contemplate. He wasn’t sure he liked realizing that women’s breasts had … um … practical uses.

The baby whimpered and he jumped to pick her up from the swinging car-seat-like-thing she was strapped into. Took him a good two minutes to figure out the clasp. Fort Knox, this thing. By then the whimper became full on red-in-the-face howl. He tried not to panic. Did babies normally get this loud or was the baby sick? He thought of Margo’s bleeding. Would he have to check, you know, the diaper area?

He bounced the baby lightly against his chest and she burped and dribbled some off-white liquid that looked like the breast milk in reverse. It wet his shirt but he didn’t care because the baby quieted. He wasn’t sure whether to keep bouncing her or not. What if she burped up more and ended up losing all the food in her tummy? He settled on a sort of light jiggly dance. Seemed to help. When he peeked down he saw the baby’s eyes had closed. The tiny mouth was closed, too.

A huge yawn stretched his.

He’d just come home from a double shift at the construction site and was dreaming of bed when he remembered that he’d promised Margo he’d check on the stairway light. He knocked on his neighbor’s door to let her know it was just a faulty light-switch, and was alarmed at how awful she looked when she opened it.

Margo rented the one-bedroom above the studio apartment he liked to think of as “his bachelor pad” though it was more like college-dorm-meet-thrift-store-shabby. Margo had already been pregnant when she’d moved in, and he’d felt a combination of protectiveness, shyness, and admiration for the young woman. Her mother had given him a critical once-cover and a ‘best not mess with my kid’ look when she’d come for the birth. He cowed under her glare and tried to stay out of their way. He hoped he passed muster when Margo’s mother found him making room for the stroller in the small landing. She didn’t say much, but she was marginally less glacial afterwards.

He’d been relieved when Margo’s mom left. Now he couldn’t wait for her to return.

Another yawn. He wasn’t sure how far away Margo’s mom lived. An hour? Two? More?

Margo had left her mother’s number on a sticky note, but he didn’t want to call. Told himself she had enough to worry about, though in truth he just didn’t want her to think he was as inept as he felt.

I did get the baby to fall back asleep, though, he thought defensively …

The third yawn threatened to swallow half the baby.

He lowered himself gingerly onto the couch. Hoped the baby stays quiet. She did. Good. He’d just close his eyes for a moment.

***

He woke to pots and pans and the smell of eggs and coffee. There was a slight weight on his chest. He stared down to see a downy head peeking from under a brown blanket.

“You were both fast asleep,” Margo’s mom manifested, apron-clad and a sudsy sponge in one hand.

He blinked.

She smiled, and he noted to himself that she didn’t look half as intimidating as he’d remembered.

“How’s Margo?” he chanced.

“She’s stable,” her smile thinned, with worry, not critic. “They gave her blood and are keeping her for observation but I can bring Ella to visit her later this afternoon.”

As if she knew she was the topic of the conversation, the baby stirred and stretched a small fist at his jaw. Her eyes opened and she contorted her face, ready to cry.

“I’ll take her,” Margo’s mom put the sponge down and wiped her hand on her apron before reaching for the baby. “Did she eat?”

He shook his head. Still a bit dazed and surprisingly disappointed at the loss of the small heft over his heart.

“I’ll make her a bottle.” Margo’s mom nuzzled the baby’s neck, and tilted her head toward a phone on the coffee table. The smile was back. “I took a photo, by the way. Of you and Ella. Was too sweet to not share.”

 

 

 

For Linda’s SoCS challenge: Yawn

 

Nest Egg

a view of the island of tortolia, british virgin islands

Photo: silvervoyager

 

It was the view that caught his heart when they’d first visited Tortola. The twins had just turned ten. He’d gotten a miserable case of traveler’s diarrhea and spent two days cocooned inside Aunt Essie’s cottage while everyone else was at the beach. He’d initially felt sorry for himself, but then the quietude enveloped him, and he found himself cherishing the time away from chit-chatter and the demands of the children, love them though he did.

He’d recovered sufficiently by the third day, and the shore was fabulous. Still a piece of him remained on the cottage’s porch, gazing into the horizon, sipping bland tea, and feeling a calm he hadn’t known possible.

They’d visited several more times over the years and when Aunt Essie died, she left him the cottage to sell, “for a nest-egg.”

The boys were in college. Bernice had moved on. He decided to move in.

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: British Virgin Islands

 

Radium Springs Roulette

radium springs ga casino pc

 

“Well then,” Mom exclaimed.

She was going over Poppa’s papers while I boxed seemingly endless books.

I looked up. There was an album in her lap, black pages empty but for an old postcard.

“He denied it when I’d said he’d taken me there,” Mom whispered. “I was young and believed him, but my heart knew all the same.”

I shook my head. Poppa was as straight-laced as they came.

“He gambled,” she explained. “A salesman meant frequent traveling. He used it to hide visits to casinos.”

She fingered the card. “Radium Springs Casino. I knew I hadn’t dreamed this place. The deep blue water wove tightly with the wheel.”

I gazed at the memento. At my mom.

“I was not-yet-four,” she sighed. “Thomas was just born and Dad took me to ‘work’ so Mom could rest. He played the roulette. … Perhaps his keeping of the card was another gamble.”

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Radium Springs, GA

 

Memory Jar

Photo prompt: © Priya Bajpal

 

“Can I take one now?”

“Breakfast first.”

Deena sighed. She ate her oatmeal and drank her milk, but her eyes kept returning to the seashell table Dad had gotten for Mom. Before. To the jar that usually stood on the mantel. Since.

Finally, Grandma rose and put her mug in the sink.

Now that it was time, Deena hung back. She remembered filling the jar, with Grandma, after the accident, when memories were fresh and both their hearts were broken.

Grandma took her hand. “Come. Reach in. Pick one, and you’ll see – the right moment with them will find you.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

A Kid’s Rock

Photo: © Randy Mazie

 

“She insists on coming,” he noted without raising his head and even though I hadn’t worded my question.

The quiet breathed and a soft breeze rustled the leaves and made shadows caress the stones.

“She stands by the gate and belts until I take her,” he added and continued to wipe his already spotless glasses. His fingers trembled, from palsy or emotion or both, I didn’t know.

“She misses her, you see,” he glanced at the goat. “Rejected by her nanny, this kid was. My Mary hand-raised her. She was this kid’s rock. Now all that’s left is this headstone.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

The Best Tradition

Traditions R.Yehuda

Photo: R. Yehuda

 

The doorbell rings

The gate stays open

As they trickle, stream, come in.

Sisters, brothers, nieces, cousins,

Nephews, parents, aunts and uncles,

And new additions to the scene.

Candles lit and babies cuddled,

In the kitchen tied-up aprons swirl

As busy hands ready cuisine.

A phone is passed:

A distant caller

Hellos each loved one from the screen.

The rooms are filled

The hearts are fuller.

Another year of treasured family din.

 

 

For the Sunday Stills Challenge: Traditions

 

 

Outdoor Sunday


Photo prompt: © Dale Rogerson 

 

“This is perfect,” Juliette leaned back onto her elbows and let the sound wash over her.

“Uhhumm…” Doug scraped mud off his pantleg. His fingers yearned for his phone but he had almost no battery left. He wondered for the hundredth time how long before they returned to the car.

Juliette smiled. She knew Doug found nature torturous. The quiet bored him. He disliked pebbles, creepy-crawlers, wind, and grass-stains.

She also knew her brother tolerated their periodical “Outdoor Sunday” just because he loved her … And because he understood better than anyone how much she’d lost when floods took the homestead.

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

Mr. Stormled’s Undoing

 

SPF 09-23-18 Fandango 2

Photo credit: Fandango

 

“How long does she have to be here?”

I’m sure Martin’s eyebrows would’ve reached the ceiling if they weren’t tied together in a unibrow.

“Mr. Stormled said, at least a month.”

Martin twisted one side of his mouth to bite the corner of his lip, and I knew there were many words he wanted to say and wasn’t. Afraid, perhaps. Many were. There was something about people – if they were people at all – who controlled such things.

Stewart Stormled didn’t frighten me, though. At least not more than most things did. I bent to straighten the small pillow.

“Making her comfortable?”

“Can’t hurt.”

“Dad won’t like this.”

Martin had a point, but Dad wasn’t in charge of this any more. He’d given up that right when he dabbled in what he shouldn’t and left us to clean his mess. Like always.

A moment trickled by.

“You think it’ll work?” For once, Martin’s voice was small.

I sighed and traced the handle of Mr. Stormled’s broken wicker chair. “Yeah. Or Mama will remain a branch forever. Julie says that’s what happened to Grandma … last time Dad tried to use magic.”

 

 

 

For the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge

How Will I Know?

alone black and white blur child

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

 

How will I know

The taste of freedom

If I am locked

Inside a cage?

How will I find

A true horizon

When I am of

Tender age?

Where will my parents be

Tomorrow?

Will army men

Lock them away?

How will I know

If I will get to see them

Once again

One day?

 

 

For Sam’s Poetry Challenge

 

Birthday Surprise


PHOTO PROMPT © Jilly Funell

 

Her heart fluttered in her chest. She wiped sweaty palms on her jeans and tugged her cap lower on her head to manage jitters and glare.

She’d worked on this all summer. In secret. His birthday surprise.

She moved closer to the building, automatically scanning the terrain even though she knew it like the back of her hand.

There he was, waiting.

“Hi Dad!”

His face lit up and he and turned toward the elevator. “I’ll call it for you.”

“It’s okay, Dad,” she grinned and pushed up from the wheelchair. “Just give me your arm. I can walk up.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers