Carrying On (500Words Round 2, Week 2, Day 2, 1/23/18)
She stopped to stretch after having been hunched over her computer for over an hour. It was all just too much, even though she’d made progress. How one person could have amassed so much confusion in six months was baffling to her. She looked at her orderly filing system to her left and smiled a sad smile. Things would be easier for whoever had to manage her things after she was gone.
The sound of her chair rolling away from the desk woke the house up. Sounds started immediately from upstairs and downstairs and she gripped the edge of her desk while she took a breath, trying to figure out which direction to go first. She shook her head – of course, the right answer was to go upstairs to the baby. The dog could wait, even though she found herself far more drawn to tend to the pet than the person. She’d lived alone her whole adult life for a reason, and all these creatures needing her attention were even more confusing than the state of the files she’d been agonizing over all day.
As she went upstairs she fixed her face into a bright smile, muttering to herself. “The book says babies like smiles, Raina, so smile, dammit,” and prepared to open the door to the baby’s room. In an artificially cheery voice, she called out, “Good Morning, Anna! Here comes Raina! Here she comes!”
At the sound of Raina’s voice, Anna’s cries quieted. “That’s a good girl, Anna! Good girl!” When Anna tilted her head to the side, Raina stopped and muttered to herself, “talk to her like she’s a person, not a pet,” echoing the advice she’d gotten from her best friend. “Thank you for quieting down, Anna! Auntie Raina likes it when you’re quiet!”
Following the steps she had posted next to the crib, Raina tended to Anna, reciting them as she went to help her commit them to memory.
“Pick up the baby. Look, you’re in my arms! Got that part down, right Anna? Now, change the diaper. Not my favorite part, little girl, not at all. Ok, you’re on the changing table – let’s find the seatbelt and get you strapped down. It’s not like you can get away yet, I don’t think. We do what’s on the list because it’s on the list! Get a diaper and open it. Ok. Open! Slide the diaper under the baby. That’s so you don’t make more of a mess than you already have. Babies are incredibly messy. Did you know that?” Raina paused and took a deep breath. All the talking was draining, and she craved her old, silent life. It felt so far away, and so impossible to reclaim. She looked down at Anna who was starting to squirm from a lack of attention. It wasn’t Anna’s fault. Babies, according to her friends with kids, just needed constant input while they were awake. Raina had considered recording herself talking and just playing it back for Anna so they could both have their needs met. She still wasn’t sure why that wasn’t a good idea and kept it in the back of her mind in case it all became too much for her to maintain.
* All 500Words are fiction. Any resemblance to people or events is strictly coincidental. *