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

 

Unwelcome

Photo prompt © J Hardy Carroll

 

They left for the summer and came back to find new neighbors had moved in.

The intrusion wasn’t noticeable at first. They’d come home at night and were busy settling back in after a long absence. It wasn’t till the next morning that Abby screamed and they ran upstairs to see the child frozen in terror, hands still on the windowsill.

A swarm of buzz swirled around her.

“Call 911!” Simon pushed his wife out of the room before slamming the door behind her and grabbing the blanket from the bed. “Tell them a nine-year-old has disturbed a hornet’s nest!”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

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

 

Into The Horizon

Australia S. Levenberg

Photo: S. Levenberg

 

There was a gap in the horizon and she was going to walk through it even if it meant a pass into another world. Even if it proved a portal to a completely different side of life.

There was a gap in the horizon and it beckoned her to come inside. To walk away from all she’d known and all she could no longer understand, and into what she didn’t know, but may arrive.

 

 

For the Weekend Writing Prompt: Horizon in 74 words

 

 

The Balance

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

 

She did not understand where the castle had gone.

Tumbled walls

Like broken bones.

 

But the well was still there,

And the sword

Wrapped in stone,

Had waited stored

Well ensconced.

 

She took the hilt

Spelled the spell

And the blade pulled out

Clean

Glowing green,

Showing

All was still wrong

Just as all was still well.

 

She took a deep breath

And exhaled.

Because though

Times had changed

At least the balance

Remained.

 

 

For Sue’s Thursday WritePhoto Prompt: Blade

 

Not a Hare

Photo © Anshu Bhojnagarwala

 

“Mama,” Benny shook me. “Something’s in the bushes!”

I must’ve dozed off.

It had been nice to have the campgrounds for ourselves.

Till now.

“Perhaps a hare.” I tried. Would a campfire keep out cougars? I felt for my utility knife. Our only weapon. Ridiculous.

Benny frowned. “It’s crying.”

It was. My heart thumped as I stalked toward the sound.

My flashlight illuminated the tear-stained face of a child. A child?! She had to be younger than Ben. Alone?!

I gasped.

She shivered. Fear or cold or both?

“Come, Sweetie,” I cooed. “We won’t hurt you. Let’s get you warm.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

First Sighting

SPF 10-07-18 CE AYR 4

Photo Credit: C.E. Ayr

 

Frank said he’d show them. They didn’t know what to expect.

There had been noises coming out of Frank’s garage for the last month. Scraping sounds. Creaks and screeching. Odd lights that did not seem electrical. Scents of things they could not place.

“That’s what happens when you indulge a grown man’s folly,” Mirabelle scowled, bestowing wisdom and a sharp tongue on the gathered neighbors. “Tinkering about instead of doing an honest day’s work.”

Rebecca raised an eyebrow in Dave’s direction and he swallowed a laugh. He had no intention of having his wife succeed in making Mirabelle turn her bottomless well of ire onto him.

“He found it,” Tommy whispered. The towheaded boy lived across the street from Frank and was known to make extensive use of binoculars, not always for savory pursuits.

Dave tilted his head in quasi-invitation.

“In the bog. A round thing. Egg-like. Didn’t sound this big before, though,” Tommy fidgeted.

The racket grew and the assembled quieted. Slowly the garage door rose. Something labored out, scraping massive claws on the driveway’s concrete.

Rebecca gasped. Mirabelle fainted. Frank hung back.

Reptilian eyes regarded them, assessing. As food or foe, Dave was not so sure.

 

 

For the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge

 

Woolgathering

snow view KarenForte

Photo: Karen Forte

 

Pause, and

Let your mind wander

In waking reverie

To the places where

Tomorrow’s seeds

Are sleeping

Underneath the snowy

Ground,

Wrapped in the arms

Of memories

Of days

Long passed

And others

Yet to come.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Woolgathering in 36 words

 

 

 

A Firm Affirm

girl wearing white and black striped long sleeved shirt jumping outdoor

Photo: Tetyana Kovyrina on Pexels.com

 

She climbed atop the hay

And called

“I am King Of The Hill!”

And then she paused

And frowned

And said,

“I am the Princess

I’m the Queen!

No dress

No crown

But still!”

 

 

For the Stream of Consciousness Prompt: Affirm

 

New Passage

Photo: © Renee Heath

 

It had been a long night. It will be a long day and night still.

The old man sighed and watched the spirits paint the sky.

The youth had spent the night secluded in silent contemplation. The elders had kept vigil not far from the tent.

Some elders frowned at the arrangement. “Right of passage should require complete solitude,” they’d argued. “How else will there be quietude enough to hear the whispers of the land?”

“Times had changed,” he’d stressed. “The current world requires the tent’s protection as well as our watchful eye. Surely the spirits, in their wisdom, understand.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers