Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Big Girls Don't Cry

Big Girls Don't Cry

Mary’s hands gripped tightly on the steering wheel. Every so often she would wiggle her fingers allowing air to flow through. Her palms were sweaty against the wheel. She drove silently, not even turning the radio on. Her heart pounded so loudly against her chest that she was afraid the small infant, sleeping soundly in the back, would hear it and start to wail. She looked at the back seat quickly, glancing at the infant car seat she had “borrowed” from her sister.

In the middle of the night, her sister was not going to leave the house to notice that it was missing. She had “borrowed” a few other necessary items that she hoped her sister would not notice had gone missing as well: diapers, a baby bottle, formula, clothes, and a pink blanket. Mary thought those might be things a baby would need. She had saved up her allowance for three weeks in order to buy a pretty, pink diaper bag she saw in a store. Everything fit perfectly. Thank God it was a girl.

She could hear the baby fuss in the back. It was a small, almost indecipherable moan. Was she hungry? It hadn’t been that long since she came into the world. Could she want food now? Mary had made a bottle of formula just in case. She had been preparing for this day for a long time. Her heart jumped at the small cry from the baby.

“We are almost there, little baby,” Mary cooed.

At 14 years of age, she didn’t know what to do with a baby. She babysat for her sister quite often but that couldn’t compare to forever caring for a baby. She would save this baby. It would get a good life.

The red light seemed to be taking longer that usual. Mary’s skin crawled with fear. What happened if her parents woke up and went looking for her? They would get worried. What if they went into the closet? She didn’t have the chance to clean it up. The light turned green and she pressed the gas peddle. The car lurched forward. Mary looked back at the infant.

She prayed that she would make it safely. She was fortunate that it was so late. There were hardly any cars on the streets. She could barely drive as it was. She passed by the fire station. She had ridden by it everyday for the last six months knowing that it was the one she would use. There were several women firefighters there. She was sure it would be a good place. The car stopped abruptly under the nervous weight of Mary’s small foot. She was a short distance from the entrance.

Mary rushed out of the car, grabbed the diaper bag, and the infant. She looked around before getting out of the car. There was no one in sight. She rushed to the front of the fire station and dropped the bag. Mary looked down at the infant. She had her thumb in her mouth, sucking it gently. Mary stared as if transfixed. A single tear drop fell from her eye onto the blanket wrapped around the baby. She was in awe of the small creature, still amazed that the baby was real.

She set her down and ran back to the car. She drove across the street where she would wait. “Please come soon. Please. I have to go home.”

Mary looked down at the time, worried that her parents might discover her missing. When a few minutes passed and no one came, she moved out of the car. She looked down on the ground from something, anything that she could throw.

“Ah, perfect.” She wrapped her still sweaty hand around a Ping-Pong ball size rock and hurled it at the station, ducking down quickly.

The rock hit a glass window. Crouched down by the front wheel of the car, Mary waited where she could still see. The sound must have startled the baby for she started to whimper and eventually cry.

“Please, please come.”

Blood trickled down. Mary did not move. She waited. She could feel cramps start to move through her but still she waited. She wanted to curl up on the ground and cry, but that’s what children do. She held back the tears, ignored the blood, and waited. Just as she was about to search for another stone, the front door opened and a middle-aged man stepped out. Mary chewed on her fingernail as she watched him approach the crying baby.

She couldn’t tell but he appeared calm as if he had been expecting her. As he picked the infant seat up, she could hear him cooing at the baby. He reached down and grabbed the bag. As he stood up, Mary swore he looked across the street right at her crouching down. He stared for a heartbeat before turning away, taking the baby, her baby away with him.
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