Chapter Thirty-Six: Christine Shore: The Baby Whisperer
The events of those harrowing three days, were three days too much for Christine.
First; finding Lydia butchered on her living room floor, followed by news that Dr. Lawson had committed suicide, it appeared, whilst reading the story of Lydia’s death. Then, watching Tobey’s distraught parents looking down at their dying son. And finally talking to baby Tobey, then hearing him no more…
It was all too much for Christine. Like a kettle on the boil, something suddenly switched off inside her. And two months would pass before she would begin to feel herself again.
In that time she had been invited to funerals, press conferences, and a whole host of engagements.
She declined them all. She also shunned busy places too. She didn’t want to hear any babies. She didn’t want to see anyone. She just wanted to be left alone in her flat watching old movies on her new DVD player…
In all fairness this behaviour was quite normal for a person grieving the loss of someone - or in Christine’s case - two people, who had become quite dear to her.
Three weeks after Lydia’s death, Christine saw a photo of Stephanie Downes in a glossy magazine. She was dressed in funeral attire: a black dress, sunglasses and a large black hat.
The article went on to talk about the actress’s complete and utter devastation over the loss of her heroic baby sister.
Christine stopped reading.
She thought she couldn’t produce any more tears but they rolled out of her like sweat, setting her cheeks on fire as they coursed down her face. Her eyes stung, her head throbbed, and her heart ached…She wondered when it would all stop.
Eventually days became weeks, and weeks turned into months. Then one day - two months after the deaths - Christine received an unexpected phone call...
To Christine, the brief conversation was more surreal to her than the first time she had heard baby Mason speak out loud – what, seemed, like all those years ago.
Although, despite it being surreal, she listened carefully to what was being said. She willingly complied, and made a note of the arrangement.
She then looked up from her scribbling pad. Her dreary eyes drifted over to the park outside her living room window. It was bright outside and everything was still summer green. A female jogger wearing light grey tracksuit bottoms, retreated further into the park. A crowded bus roared up the highway then pulled into the stop opposite the newsagent. A car screeched. A cat meowed. And Christine realised…she was no longer at that boiling point anymore.
She found she could take in long, deep, breaths without wanting to be sick. She was finally back in that state of numbness. Exactly where she was after her son’s passing, and before Lydia and baby Tobey had come into her life. She had found her way back to that place, which was good. A little inept but still better than where she was before.
Christine begins to make plans for the week ahead…
Exactly seven days later, on Saturday, Christine was up early. She spent the morning cleaning her flat. After she had completed the arduous task, she decided to brew a pot of coffee. But then she decided against it…then she changed her mind again...
A silver hatchback pulled into Christine’s block and entered the parking bay.
A few minutes later someone buzzed her intercom. Christine immediately pressed the security button to let them in. She took another look around her apartment before heading towards the front door.
As soon as she opened it, she was met with a woman in a red baseball cap. It was pulled so low down her face, that Christine wondered how she managed to get up the stairs. The woman was carrying a baby-seat.
Christine smiled and let them in.
“You recognise me then?” Stephanie Downes said with a self-conscious smile.
Then without further delay she said. “And this is my darling Maybelline, the little nightmare I was telling you all about,” she said teasingly, as she handed over the car seat to Christine.
Christine caught her breath. Maybelline was the cutest baby girl she had ever seen.
Stephanie took her cap off and shook out her long, scraggy, blonde hair. The shakedown made little difference.
“I know. I know. I look a right royal mess,” Stephanie said sounding every bit as playful as Lydia did, when she made similar remarks of that kind. Then Stephanie added quite somberly. “Thank you for agreeing to see me.”
“That’s okay,” Christine replied, “I hope you didn’t have any trouble getting here…Let’s go into the kitchen.”
Christine poured her guest a mug of coffee. She didn’t add any milk or sugar. She also did her best not to stare, but tried to appear as relaxed as one could whilst serving an A-list celebrity their morning brew.
“I’ve become more American since I married one,” Stephanie said with a drawl. She took a hearty gulp of her coffee. “Maaaan I think I really needed that. Nice coffee!”
Christine thanked her then Stephanie said. “I spoke to my sister before she died. She spoke very highly of you…I know the press have said some unkind things...” She trailed off. “I-I wouldn’t have bothered you except...Maybelline has been crying non-stop. It’s crazy! I’ve been recommended all sorts of new age techniques - you name it! I’ve done it! But nothing seems to work. Then I thought of you...I was hoping to meet you at the funeral but when you didn’t show... I-I’m sorry... I…”
“No. No. It’s me who should apologise,” Christine interrupted. “I kind of dropped out of the loop for a while. I guess…now when I think about it, I should have called or something.” Christine recalled Lydia’s excitement as she relayed the news of her sister’s pregnancy.
Ahhh she was quite excited about that, wasn’t she?
“She’s quiet now,” Stephanie said looking down at her daughter. “I’m so surprised by that. She’s so quiet and she’s not even sleeping. Just staring up at us, looking like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth.”
Christine peered into the car seat. Baby Maybelline was sat looking extremely cherubim-like with her pale blue eyes, and mousy brown hair.
She began to gurgle. “Hello Christine - finally! It’s soooo lovely to meet you! I’ve been wanting to see you for the longest time but somehow mummy wasn’t getting it. So I guess I had to keep on screaming and crying and crying and crying, until I finally got through to her.”
Christine gasped and then chuckled. “I think you did,” she laughed. “But my darling. I think you’ve also been giving your mummy a lot of grief, and maybe more sleepless nights than she deserves.”
“I know. I feel a little bad about that,” Maybelline said in a rush. “But I just wanted to meet you that was all. The thing is Christine. I met one of my Ancestors. She said it was very important I pass this message onto you before I forget.”
“What was it?”
“A-hem.” Maybelline cleared her throat, she said, “No matter what has happened in the past, YOU - Christine Shore - should continue to do what you were born to do. The gift that you possess is an accumulation of blessings passed, but as you are well aware, this is not essential. What is, however, is what you decide to do with it,” she powered on. “Although, it seems like an age, we are only on earth for a short time. But it is the most important time of all. The world is not how these grown-ups see it, Christine! They don’t understand. Worldly
Knowledge is no match for Divine Inspiration. And babies - this is what we are - we are an inspiration to the world! These grown-ups are slowly losing their way. They can’t see it, but they are gradually replacing hope, with apathy. It’s being sown into the foundations and like a cancer – its set to spread! They don’t need to educate us - but liberate us! Free us from this wave of apathy that’s slowly being fed to us all. You – Christine – you can see the world through the little ones. You can see what we can do for it - and what we can be! We can change it Christine. You won’t be alone. Help us, help you, HELP THEM! We can change it! Humanity needn’t sail blindly into doom and gloom. We have a choice. Let our little voices be heard. Give us that chance, Christine. You know we have it in us to change it. Please don’t stand by. Don’t watch us grow up…to forget that…”
Christine didn’t say anything right away. She only nodded.
Maybelline continued. “Well. That was more or less what my Ancestor wanted to tell you. I just hope none of this gets in the way of my plans.”
Christine had to suppress a smile. “Oh. And what plans are those?” she queried.
“When I grow up, I plan to go into public service. I would like to be a politician.”
“A politician?” Christine smiled.
“Why yes. A politician. I would like to shake things up a bit, you know, create some waves on the political stage. That’s what the women in my family have always done. We’re a gusty lot - don’t you know? We don’t give rubbish and we don’t take any back.”
Christine burst out laughing; “I believe the women in your family certainly do have this errr…quality,” she agreed smiling with admiration at Maybelline, “They certainly do.” Christine leaned forward. “When you see this Ancestor of yours again, tell her I agree with everything that she said. I’ve heard everything. And I’m ready...”
In response to Christine’s reply, Maybelline did something her mother had never heard before, she let out great big squeals of laughter.
“Ah wow! I’ve never heard her laugh like that! What did you say to her? What does it mean?”
Christine was laughing too. She wiped her eyes then turned her attention to Maybelline’s mother. “She said the women in your family have…a thing…You’re a gusty lot I hear.”
Stephanie looked back in bewilderment but nodded. “Yes. Yes. We are.” She laughed with a strange look of awe on her face.
“Stephanie.” Christine looked directly at the first-time mother. “I don’t think you’re going to have any more problems with Maybelline crying - I’m quite certain of that. Just one thing though. You got to help your baby do, what she was born to do. The answer, we might not always know, but the help, we can always give. Whatever that potential maybe, no matter how daunting or challenging, help her to fulfil that potential.”
“But how will I know what that is?”
“Oh. You don’t really need to know Stephanie,” Christine replied all smiles and dry-eyed for a change. “Believe me. These babies. They know it for themselves.”
Stephanie stared levelly at Christine. “How about you?” she asked with a warmth very much like Lydia’s. “What are you going to do?”
Christine sighed however her eyes lit up like freshly pressed pennies. “I have a gift,” she replied without a moment’s hesitation. “I have life. And so long as I have this, it means: I have much to learn, I have much to teach…” she smiled, imagining the cheers of all the babies around the world and beyond “…So I guess…I have much to do...”
The two of them turned their attention to Maybelline, who was happily gurgling away. They slowly sipped their coffees; shared pointers on motherhood, and occasionally fawned over the little baby girl who was now playing quite contently in her little car seat.
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