A boy (Chapter 47)
Sun beams down, drying the damp soil of the garden. But Elena’s little boy still manages to find a puddle to stomp in.
He is such a cute little tike, with round cheeks and large chocolate eyes. Wet globs of dirt on his blue shorts and a muddy hand print on his matching shirt.
Elena and I are sitting in the garden of the Female Center, enjoying a tea and light conversation. The garden has iron wrought tables in various corners of the maze-like French garden. The staff is serving various women who have decided it is simply too lovely to spent another day inside after the last couple of days of rain. Elena and I have chosen a table in the corner, far away from the others so we don’t have to engage in the gossip and her son can play nearby without bothering anyone.
Elena is lighter today, happier than the last time I saw her. Her pregnancy is a boy and she couldn’t be more relaxed.
The garden seems more vibrant after the rain. The gravelly paths shine whiter and the overflowing boxed plants bordering the paths seem greener. The sun shines warmer and the air smells fresh. It’s a beautiful day and we are enjoying it.
“Sweet pea!” Elena squeals at her son who had just jumped into a puddle next to her.
“I don’t know how I’m going to handle two of them” She mutters with a smile while looking at her boy with love, one hand rests of her belly.
She turns back to me and I smile at her between taking sips of tea.
“I’m sure you’ll do fine”
She just hums a response as she closes her eyes and turns towards the sun. There is something so serene about her. I wonder if I shall ever be in her position- happily drinking tea in this foreign land while my son plays by my feet.
I guess I want that? I don’t know. It’s too confusing to think about what would need to happen to get there.
Sean laughed so hard when I complained about Giddean’s drunkenness. The normally silent man chuckled so much we actually had to pause on our walk to the Female Center so he could compose himself. I think I made his day- maybe his week. Who knew the grumpy fellow had it in him.
I couldn’t tell Sean about the kiss though. The sloppy drunken slobber that Giddean gifted me is our secret. He was so out of it- I doubt he even remembers it today. I raise my hands to my lips and smile a little thinking about it. Despite the foulness of the alcohol on his breath and the clumsy way he assaulted my lips, there was something endearing about his goodnight kiss. Something sweet. Like he was giving his sweetheart a kiss goodnight…
I jolt out of my day dream, jerking my fingers away from my mouth as if the waiter could tell what I was thinking.
But the waiter isn’t looking at me, he is looking at Elena. Who smiles at him in acknowledgment.
“The doctor has some free time now for your test. One of his appointments cancelled.”
“Oh, oh!” Elena begins to stand, “Ivy, would it be okay if you watched Peter for a little while? It will only be a few minutes.”
“Of course!” I wave her away and she scurries after the waiter. Her son is the easiest little boy to look after.
I turn by chair a bit to watch the little boy better. His chubby little hands reach down into a puddle and grab more mud before his chubby little baby legs take him over to the bushes where he paints the leaves with his new favorite substance. He returns to his puddle and repeats. After coating the leaves to his satisfaction, he decides to start covering his mother’ chair with the grimy substance.
I reach over and grab a medium-sized bright yellow ball, “here Peter!” and toss it at him.
The ball misses him and rolls next to the bushes. He waddles over and picks it up. Hugging it to his chest, he takes it back to his puddle and throws it in.
I just shake my head. That boy and his puddle.
I close my eyes to soak up the glorious sun as it shines.
Then I hear it. A wail like I have never heard in my life. Painful and sorrow filled. I jump up from chair, eyes wide open, scanning the garden.
It’s coming from Peter and his puddle. Oh god, oh god, oh god.
His small back faces me as he sits in his puddle, pounding his small fists into the mud.
I take a deep breath, still shaken by the toddler’s scream, and walk the few steps to the boy.
As I reach the howling child, he turns his face towards me. The wind is sucked out of me. Instead of tears, blood streams over his baby cheeks. His plump fingers bleed as they dig into gravelly mud. Something isn’t right…
“Help!” I hear myself yell and I run the last few steps to the boy, picking him up and setting him on my lap. Blood and mud smear on my dress as the boy moans into my chest. His screams growing louder. I push his tiny face away from my dress to get a better look.
Dirt coats his face, screwed up in pain. His little mouth round as he howls in agony. Blood streams from his shut eyes. No no no no.
Shaking, I take the edge of my dress and try to wipe the blood from his face. It smears along his face and my dress. Oh god, more blood just follows. The boy wrenches his head from my hands and dives between my breasts.
“Help! Help!” I cry, loudly. My screams joining Peter’s.
A waiter appears out of nowhere and grabs the boy, placing him on the table.
“It’s okay little one” He mummers gently, patting the boy.
I don’t think Peter hears him over his own wailing.
Elena appears, “What-?”
“It’s okay-” the waiter begins
“Peter! Peter!” She runs to him, pushing the waiter out of the way taking her son into her arms.
She turns to me. “What did you do to him?!” She screeches.
“I didn’t… I didn’t…” I shake my head try to defend myself.
“What did you do to my son?” She wails and starts crying, louder than boy.
By now a small group of waiters and a few of the customers were standing, watching, judging.
I standup from the gravel and mud, “Elena, he was just-“
“Go away! Go away!” Elena just screams at me, “Just go away!”
The waiter turns to me, “Maybe….”
I throw my hands in front of me and back away from the scene through the people watching.
And I flee.