The toddler was pushing all the air she held in her tiny lungs out through her tiny vocal chords into a colossal piercing cry. Melrose flinched. It was the best high pitch she had ever heard, surpassing the capability of any opera singers she had seen on film or television. The toddler had her tiny fists on Melrose’s back as she leaned on Melrose’s shoulder while Melrose attempted to rock her in her arms, patting her back gently.
Face and mouth ruddy red from the exertion, the baby took a deep inhale of air and pushed out yet another scream again, this time rattling Melrose’s eardrums as though they were poorly reinforced window panes.
In their sitting room, Kevin looked on at one corner, scratching his head, standing as though he had not made his mind to move, stay put or to leave the room.”Has the baby got colic?” he asked.
Melrose paced around the room, stroking the baby’s head and mumbling words she hoped were soothing to a kid who had not yet spoken her first words. “Probably not,” she said. “Mrs Flaherty would’ve informed us otherwise, I am sure.”
Kevin sighed and sat down, holding his face up with one of his hands. He looked at the clock. It had been just two minutes, barely enough time for their elderly neighbour to come back from around the street from picking up her daily paper.
Kevin and Melrose had known that their neighbour was taking care of her grandchild while the parents were away for a couple time vacation, and Mrs Flaherty had requested them to watch over her grandbaby as she went to run a quick errand.
The couple had said okay. The living organism showed no signs of being a difficult case, no signs of baby chaos had emanated from Mrs Flaherty’s house following the days and nights she had moved in.
It was clearly Murphy’s law at work. Whatever is inconvenient will happen at the most inopportune timing. Or whatever you think would happen, won’t, and the things you think won’t happen will, something between these lines.
Melrose had checked her diaper. No, the crying girl was clean and dry. According to what Kevin had gleaned from Mrs Flaherty, it didn’t seem like it was bottle feeding time either. Thankfully, she had left behind a small bottle half-filled with baby formula and it wouldn’t hurt to try.
Perhaps their kindly neighbour had put them up to it, Kevin mused. What were the probabilities that a normally un-fussy kid would choose the time where she was in the hands of a parentally-inept couple to arise a indissoluble crying fit?
Clearly, they were not the conventional married-with-kids-house-and-a-picket-fence kind of married couple.
Melrose was content with just her husband for company, after all life companionship and having a best friend to grow with was the main purpose of marriage. Kevin who had single-handedly supported and taken care of himself since the age of 17, was delighted to have more time and money to himself rather than continue working and tiring himself out to pay for loans and things as he had done since seventeen. After five years, the prospect of living on caffeine for at least twenty more years into his future had no appeal.
Though a reasonable rationale, their perspectives had made older folks turn heads, especially Mrs Flaherty. Whenever neighbourly conversations treading the very thin line between family and the next generation had sprouted up over the fence as they tended to their respective gardens, Kevin politely informed her that he had no desire to have his own kids and that parenting was off the radar; a foreign concept to him and his wife.
Mrs Flaherty had deftly replied, “You’re still young, Kevin. Perhaps it’s not yet your time. When you have your own children, such things are no longer theoretical concepts.” Kevin always chose to back off from responding. Mrs Flaherty always said that with such self-assuredness, it made Kevin think that she was probably the kind who could hold a hours-long debate about any conflicting viewpoints she encountered.
The minute hand on the clock had informed Kevin that an additional two minutes had passed. The kid was still bawling. She had also refused the milk bottle, pushing it away with her small hands whenever it came near her mouth. Tired of the same old, Kevin walked over and held out his arms out for the toddler.”Here, let me try,”.
Melrose hesitated. “Are you sure?”
Kevin shrugged. “It’s been four minutes, clearly this kid doesn’t like your arms that much.” He tried to play off his personal awkwardness with dry humour. Melrose shifted her arms to transfer the toddler to Kevin. “Okay, do your best not to drop him.”
Kevin’s lips twitched slightly.
He rested the toddler’s head in the crook of his elbow. He started a terrible rendition of Rock-a-bye baby, before switching over to Row The Boat when he forgot the lyrics halfway. To his amazement, the kid’s cries gradually softened into mere whimpers.
Melrose had moved into the corner. She was studying him, holding a teacup in her hands with an eyebrow slightly raised. Kevin smirked at her, the victory of unforeseen triumph in his eyes.
In his heart, he knew Melrose was thankful for the peace that had come upon the room, as she raised up to drink the chamomile that had cooled down sufficiently by now.
Today’s prompt words were specially challenging! I mulled over the words that had no link before starting on this at 9+pm. Shorts that I really put my effort into take about 2 hours for me to complete.
The idea of Kevin and Melrose holding a baby came to me when I was out eating dinner. In the 1950s, getting married and having a dozen kids was the norm as farmhands were needed, but in this day and age, kids is more of an option or societal expectation, especially in high living costs regions of the world.
I thought writing something like this would be interesting as this would be relevant to some of today’s marriages and people’s motivations for it. I would also be able to get my own characters to respond and react to special situations in which they are pushed out of their comfort zones. I hope anyone reading has enjoyed this piece! As I type this note, it is now 11.55pm where I am.
It is prime time for me to sleep now, so have a good day or night, wherever you readers are in the world! Signing off, TTYL!