Sunday, June 22, 2008

Naomi

He was so angry. Still so angry. Maybe it was the lack of sleep. Maybe it was everything. He rolled over and coaxed himself out of bed. Shouldn’t he be happy that it’s Saturday? And he had the day off to spend with her?

Out of duty, he went to the other bedroom to check on his six-month old daughter.

“Now you sleep.”

He wanted to feel love. He was supposed to feel love. Caressing her head and studying her petite little face, fair skin and curly blonde hair, he thought, “You look so much like your mother.”

The silence in the house was welcome from last night. By the fifth bout of blood-curling screams, he covered his head with a pillow and let her cry herself to sleep. He refused to bring the baby into his bed. He resolved never to do that.

He sifted through the newspaper, barely digesting the headlines. Then a combination of anger, desire and resolution ran through his entire being. He picked up his cell phone.

“Mary? Can you watch Naomi today? I need to do some things.”

His sister, along with his two nieces, always took Naomi without question.

Naomi.

He chose the name, almost out of spite. When the nurse told him he needed to pick out a name, he looked at the nurse’s nametag and said, “Fine. It’s Naomi then.”

“And the middle name?”

“Does she need a middle name?”

“I guess not.”

His wife wanted the name Grace Maria. She shouldn’t have left him then.

After a quick shower and a few swallows of a Mountain Dew, he walked into the nursery. Naomi lay on her back, breathing rhythmically.

“Okay, Baby. Let’s start the routine.”

Gently picking her up, she awoke with a start. When she started to whimper, he cut her off.

“Don’t start with me already.” The baby sensed the impatience and watched her father.

He changed her dirty diaper, a task he abhorred, and dressed her in a Harley Davidson sleeper.

“Today, I ride. Let’s get you fed so I can get the hell out of here.”

He drove to his sister’s house and dropped off Naomi.

“Not sure when I’ll be back.”

”No problem. We’re not doing anything today.”

He drove back home, parked his truck and rolled his motorcycle out of the garage.

Finally, he was free.

It was probably a little too windy to be riding today, but he didn’t care. He was going to ride. Maybe even get drunk. Maybe find a woman. He needed to forget the mother of his child.

Fighting the wind matched his mood. “Bring it on,” he thought. He never felt fear. Not now.

By the afternoon, he found himself in a small town a few hours away from home. It was time to quench his thirst.

He pulled up a barstool and ordered a beer. The bartender was young and very pretty. She had a dark complexion with short, dark hair. Her snug t-shirt and tight jeans accentuated her nearly perfect figure. It was the first time he had noticed a woman in six months.

“What are you ridin?” She asked, smacking her gum.

“A Harley.”

“What kind of Harley?”

The girl seemed to know a fair bit about motorcycles. And that’s how the conversation started. With the few other customers in the bar, her interest in him grew apparent as her face inched closer to his. He enjoyed the attention And the attraction.

“How old are you anyway?” He asked, but he didn’t really care.

“21. I’m still going to college.”

That was good enough for him.

“How late do you work?”

She smiled, “Why? Are you inviting me on a date?”

He wasn’t thinking date, so much. “Maybe.”

“Well. I need to ask you something first. You’re not, like married or anything like that, are you? I’m just asking because I’ve gotten into trouble for that before.”

The question made his heart stop. He looked at the girl in front of him, who now suddenly looked like a twelve-year old girl. What would her father think?

Suddenly, he stood up. “I’m sorry. I need to go.”

The bartender stood smacking her gum and watched the rider go. “Yep. He’s married.”

He jumped on his Harley and sped home. When he reached his hometown, he drove to the cemetery. To apologize.

Kneeling beside the headstone with the freshly dug earth, he wiped his forehead.

“I’m sorry, Hon. This is just so hard. Raising this baby by myself. I don’t know if I can do it.”

He didn’t cry when she died. He didn’t cry at the funeral. He didn’t cry after the funeral. Until now.

“I was mad at you. Mad you left me alone to raise her. People don’t die in childbirth anymore. Don’t you know that?”

He cried again.

“I’m worried that I’ll never love this baby the way I’m supposed to. I look at her and it reminds me that you’re not here. It’s wrong to think that way, I know.”

Then he stood up. The wind swept through him. A bird landed on the her gravestone.He watched the bird that seemed to be watching him.

"OK. I need to change. I need to do more than take care of her, don't I?"

Suddenly, he desired nothing but to be holding Naomi.

When he went to his sister's house, the baby was crying.

“She just started getting fussy, but doesn’t seem to want a bottle.”

"She likes her head rubbed.” He took the baby and sat in a rocking chair. Caressing her head stopped the crying. She smiled at her father.

“That’s my Naomi.”

And he smiled. Love had finally filled his heart again.

1 comment:

michele said...

This story sucked me in and filled me with a heaviness. I could feel it it my chest when I was finished. I also got the chills at the end when he was holding and knowing his daughter. A story that is too close to possibility for your family, Stef. michele