“It’s about not taking the things we have for granted. There is no way of going to the past and changing. True love is wanting happiness for both parties—whether it means to be together or apart.” – Jessica Dinh
Fiction. Based on a True Morning.
This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.
Cooled sweat forms a sticky film on the back of my hand as I push my hair away from my face. To my side, my partner quietly snores. She did not hear the baby crying. Good. In the other room my daughter lies crying in a playpen. Why is she awake? What time is it?
My low back strains as I push the dog away. The bedroom door is locked, why? In the other room my daughter lies wide eyed, searching for me. Maybe she knows it’s me with the click of the door handle, or maybe she senses me. It’s still dark outside as I reach into the playpen and hold her. It’s a little cold. Maybe that’s…no her diaper is full.
She falls asleep in my arms. The sun still has not come up. Slowly I back away from her, half asleep myself and go back to bed. It’s strange how my mind was already in dreamland as I held my baby. But, here, in bed, even as my body begs, I lie awake. Eyes closed, I listen to my partner’s breathing. The dog snores, loudly, with his body wedged between us. The film reel on the back of my eyelids begins to play an image for me. It’s the same lost heartsong that has played for many years.
This is my “other” baby dream. A baby with dark brown curls. I think my partner’s white sheets remind me of that lost dream. My dream room is bright and white. This child that has been in my dreams for as long as I can remember, is not the baby I have. I have a sweet, beautiful baby girl. Strange how life works like that.
When my eyes open again the sunlight illuminates us. The dog is restless and hungry. From here, I hear my daughter talking to herself in the other room. Such a strange little person. On her side, my partner remains asleep. I wrap myself around her. The baby’s babbling has begun to whine. My day is starting with no regard for my feelings. She stirs. She turns to face me, her body nestled into mine. Her hair in my face. It’s so soft and sweet, the smell of her hair. From the other room, protests grow with intensity. What had been absent complaints grow to demanding screams. I kiss the forehead pressed against my chest and pull away. As I sit up the cries from the other room diminish. That baby can feel me.
I drag myself to the kitchen. Apparently several hours have past. I turn the faucet on, eventually hot water sprays into the sink. Mindlessly I scoop formula out of the container and measure it into the bottle. Swirl the hot water, shake the bottle, and off to the boss I go. Laying in her playpen she smiles the largest and brightest smile she can muster. Her tiny eyes sparkle. She is so ready to be out, up and with us. As I lift the baby up, my partner enters the room and offers to take the baby. I hand her over. They sit on the couch. I wander into the bathroom. I stand in front the mirror looking into the sink, listening. She is talking to my daughter, trying to get her to say mama. A tiny smile hooks itself into the corner of my mouth. Hip balanced against the vanity, I can still hear the two of them, talking to one another, cooing at each other. The three of us are shifting.
We all sit together on the couch. The three of us discuss the day, the baby’s input an increasingly loud babble. What should we do today? Maybe just go to that Christmas thing? Then later we can come home and hang things on the wall? Or maybe we could just stay in? Baby what do you think?
Removed from myself, I watch the three of us. I see the way we look. How we all fit together. I wonder if I am the only one who sees it. The dog growls at some noise undetectable to me. We scowl at him, and the baby reaches out and grabs him. He sulks away. I walk towards the kitchen. He trails after me. I call out to my partner. Coffee? Yes please! The scent of earthy chocolate fills the kitchen as I grind the beans. The dog sits on the mat, staring, waiting, not realizing I have no food out. This is the life the young and naive version of me prayed for. This is what I begged for. Here it is, tangible and mine.
My daughter’s smile wrinkles her nose as I walk back into the living room. I’m not sure anyone’s ever loved me that much. I sink into the couch and watch them play. They seem to be really connected. I wish I could know, if they are or not. The way they are together lends me the confidence I need to remain happy. The dog barks at another dog on the television. The bark echos in my mind. I am lost watching them. I am swimming in a warmth I have never known. The baby reaches out for me, so I take her. Her head smells sweet, like it did when she was born. But her hands are sticky and sour from her chewing on them. She bounces, up and down, up and down, up and down, on my lap. She holds onto the collar of my shirt very tightly, her little nails scraping my skin. My spare hand scratching the space between my partner’s shoulder blades.
Minutes pass into hours, and we three remain. The morning evolves into afternoon, and we three remain. Slowly we eat breakfast together. We leisurely stir. Maybe we will paint today. Maybe we won’t. Maybe we will decorate the tree, or maybe not. No matter what happens, or doesn’t happen, we are together. We three remain.