The perfervid cries of the baby resonated about the nursery, where the severity of the imposed stringent air of hostile sterility had the mother alone as its loyal adherent, and the sole perpetuating power. Lily, clad in saturnine shades of tender clothing, walked in with an air of cold ascendance, as if the survival of the entire assemblage of her familial posterity rested on the shoulders of her slender frame. She cautiously bent over the benignly swinging cradle, complete with its meticulous tailoring of soft fabric, and glanced inside, her features, now without its authoritarian sharpness, sporting a carefully concocted look of vigilant affection.
Her cuddly joyful bundle, her ineluctably adorable cuteness in blankets, her Lilliputian prince, was lying on his side, crying his heart out with passionate fervour. Worry puckered Lily’s eyebrows and her lips dwindled out to a tight protrusion of refulgent wholeness as she moved in to kiss her baby.
I stayed behind and took in the rewarding sight. Her tiny human was wrapped up safely in her exquisite maternal embrace, and the intangible glow they furtively showered upon themselves was a sight to pay teary obeisance for. The crying had ceased the moment Lily had kissed his little pudgy fingers and ran her infirm hands down the small of his back. Her precious cherub clung onto her with innate love, eyes endearingly shut and lips pouted to what seemed to be a treat of honey suckling.
Young mothers, pristine neophytes of divine care, with their fresh austerity and nebulous pride, are the true angels to have walked this planet, I thought to myself. In hindsight, no other vision seemed so pristine in the emotional perspicuity it retained as the one I was witnessing now. Never before had I seen two bodies in perfect synchronicity, bound by the benevolent spirit of pure biological suzerainty, the irreducible element of solemn contemplation, a soul externalized and love exchanged in return. When one confronts the absolutes of life, the inevitability of biology, there are nails struck of true realization. I bared my soul to the inexorable multiplication of life, of happiness, of the very extension and sustenance of an idyll.
“He is my little sleep bandit. Robs me of sleep every night,” Lily voicelessly squealed at me, her dimples caving in with delight, as the baby stirred in his temporal nap on the human tree.
Lily had vehemently opposed the idea for a subrogation of parental duties as she had lost faith in her husband over his precipitous state of mental acuity, and his shamelessly ambitious adulterous tendencies. Neither could she give him the responsibilities of a caretaker, nor could she entertain the idea of bringing another woman into the house. Her only relief, then, was his pragmatic knack for managing issues regarding pecuniary anxieties.
Lily now kissed her drooling miracle as he prattled incoherently on about the inconsistencies of his previous life.
“A mewling memorabilia of a marriage gone wrong.” She mused softly. “But oh, he is my everything.”
She turned to face me and espied the wet trails rippling down my flushed cheeks. Misspending not a second, she addressed the issue and spoke thus.
“Oh sweetheart, don’t cry. Would you like to hold him? My ceaselessly curious, dynamically determined, sympathetically silly, fantastically funny, lividly loud and hermetically handsome baby! Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!”
The baby stared at his mother with eyes wide shut and a wagging tongue sprung out in imitation of her beatific exclamations.
“Come dear, don’t be scared. He won’t bite. He’s got no teeth, see?”
As Lily slid her little finger across her baby’s upper and lower gums, much to the delight of his insatiable need to bite onto something, I stepped forward, fists clenched in agonized fright and muscles tensed to hidebound rigidity.
To have been asked to undertake this seemingly herculean task pushed the divulging scales of my dilemma over to the hellacious notion that what was dreaded had to be confronted with critical foreboding. My conscience harried me with alarming presages of what my ineptitude would give hapless nativity to, effectively evincing in me a sense of white madness and raging despondency.
As I extended my arms, I realized that they were glistening with sweat. I quickly wiped them across my back, completely aware of how etiolated I might be coming off as, and politely asked for the baby to be handed over to my trembling hands.
“Don’t fret it, dear. You’ve gone so pale already!”
My hands responded with surprising equanimity as I gently wrapped my palms on either side of his delicate under arm and lifted him off Lily with equable force. I could feel his heart beat with nonpareil fervor and his eyes stare into mine with complacent vapidity. He wriggled abruptly, one of the many vagaries I had expected from this perilous task at hand, almost slipping free from my sweat-slopped arms. I pulled his body to my chest and kept him ensconced there, against the variegated tiers of my showing ribs.
I breathed in the quaint scent of lavender in the air hard and long, aware that the worst was over. I glanced up to see an ecstatic Lily beam at us, proud of the fruition of her efforts.
“Beautiful. See? I told you …”
The baby wriggled again, and slipped free.
The cuddly, joyful bundle tumbled down to the floor, where it smashed its head against unyielding marble with a sickening thud and died instantly from a crack in the skull.
For ruining the freshly polished glaze of her inexpensive flooring with the gnarled morsels of syrupy brain tissue and fragile bone crumbs, I offered Lily my sincerest apologies.
The Unconditional Maverick