Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Shhh. (02/18/10)
TITLE: Shh, Little Baby
By Joanney Uthe
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With expertise gained from many hours of playing with dolls, Miranda quickly changed his diaper and prepared a bottle. Josiah cried continuously until she sank into the rocking chair to feed him. Looking at her thirsty child, Miranda wondered if she would ever again get any sleep. Other mothers had told her to “sleep when the baby sleeps” but their babies probably slept more than 45 minutes at a time. How was she ever going to finish her GED if she didn’t study while Josiah slept?
Josiah’s cries echoed through the quiet house once he finished eating. Her parents were at some fundraiser dinner. Not that her mother helped much with Josiah other than when Miranda was at work or school. Miranda’s “punishment” for her teenage pregnancy was taking the responsibility for the child. Most of the time, she won’t trade that responsibility for anything. But nights like tonight, when Josiah won’t stop crying and when her friends were all at school events, it actually felt like punishment.
“What is the matter, little guy? You can’t still be hungry after you drank the whole bottle. Do you have a gas bubble?” Miranda paced the floor trying to get him to stop crying. Even after burping, the crying continued.
“Shh, Mommy’s here.” Miranda’s voice no longer carried the loving tone she desired. How could a child so young scream for an hour straight? “Mommy loves you, Josiah, even if your daddy left as soon as he learned about you. Mommy is still here.” Bryan's insistence that the baby was “her problem” and that she should have it “taken care of” still frustrated her more than his lack of commitment to her. Asking him to take Josiah some night so she could have a night out with her friends wasn’t about to happen.
“That’s it; you are going in your swing. Maybe that will help to calm you down” The swing sometimes helped to put Josiah to sleep; so it was worth a try. “I wish I hadn’t skipped all the chapters on colic in the parenting books I read while pregnant. You weren’t supposed to be a colicky baby.”
Miranda turned the volume up on her favorite TV show, but it still did not drown out Josiah’s shrills of discomfort. “I have no idea what is even happening on this show because of you.” Picking up Josiah she bumped his head on the top bar of the swing, making him cry all the louder. “What will make you shut up?” With movements as stiff as her anger, she held Josiah away from her as she looked at his screaming face. Her reward was Josiah’s bottle from earlier reappearing all over her.
“How dare you throw up all over my new shirt!” Tempted to throw the child, Miranda grabbed a burp rag and started to wipe off her shirt. She had to get this child to stop crying but she couldn’t do it in a wet shirt. Carrying him to her room, she plopped Josiah onto her bed while she changed shirt. Carrying him back to the livingroom, Miranda hit her breaking point as Josiah’s blood-curdling screams filled her ears. “What is wrong with you? Why can’t you just shut up and sleep like babies are supposed to do?” Miranda yelled at her baby and shook him like a giant maraca until he stopped crying and she fell on a heap to the floor.
When her parents came home, they found Miranda staring at her still, quiet son as he lay blue on the floor. He had stopped crying. He would never cry again. Nor would he ever be the star athlete she had dreamed he would be. He would never hold a ball. Never run. Never again smile. She had shaken the crying, and the life out of Josiah.
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