Saturday, July 30, 2011
ordinary adventures in babysitting
Penelope felt she'd taken a step off into the deep end of the pool when she showed up at Elliot's. She didn't know exactly what she was doing here. Of course, she'd had a few talks with Olivia's Dad while she was helping him move into an old Victorian home, that needed plenty of fixing. He seemed happy about the house. He'd told her not to expect the worst with Elliot. After all, she was Elliot's friend, and he bet Elliot needed a friend about now.
"Is it a bad time?" She said quickly as if she could take a step back and race to her car, leave as if she'd been a figment of his imagination.
"No. No..not at all." Elliot could barely say as he rubbed sleep from his eyes. He was home alone with the baby, and he looked as if were sleepwalking. He motioned for her to have a seat in the living-room. "How's your summer going?" He sounded eager to know.
"My summer? I should ask you about yours?" They'd stopped the late night phone calls. She missed them, but she knew he was too tied up, in other domestic things.
He went to put on the kettle. He was barefooted and his hair was wild. Really, she'd never see this side of him. It was like he was someone else. But he came back to the couch and sat there as if he might be coming down, off something.
"Did you go anywhere?" He wanted to know.
"Oh, I just got back from Paris." She decided to say.
"Really?" He grinned then.
"No." She laughed. "I haven't done much. I've...I've been helping my Dad," She stopped, thinking how could she say that? Well, she needed one. She really did, and she was glad Olivia's dad was here. She cleared her throat. "He, he's moving back. I dunno why. But, he's-" She had to admit it. "I missed him."
"That's great." Elliot smiled as if he he needed the corner of the couch to cat-nap on. Suddenly, he smelled his shirt. He cringed. Took his T-shirt off. "You make tea while I'm in the shower. I doubt Pearl will wake up. I really reek here. Sorry." He got up to go shower. He didn't give her time to answer.
Penelope was spellbound, perhaps, as she watched him walk away. She hated to admit that she liked what she saw. Suddenly, she felt speechless as she waited for the kettle to hum. Just then she heard the baby cry from his bedroom. Penelope stood up, wondering what to do first.
The baby's voice got to her, as if some sort of alarm. She went to the infant in her crib next to Elliot's un-made bed. She guessed, he'd been eating in bed. There were crumbs of Doritos and an empty bag on the floor.
"Hey....you." She looked down at the dark eyed thing with a heavy head of dark hair. She was so tiny. And her little circle of a mouth twitched as she stared up at Penelope. It was so sweet. And then Pearl cried as if Penelope wasn't anyone she knew.
"Its OK." Penelope said in a quiet voice. Her fingers touched the baby's firm stomach. The baby was turning red with her screaming cry. Penelope was in shock. Still. She had to do something. So with a deep breath, Penelope picked the baby up, as fast as she could. She reached for a pacifier in the corner of the crib..and edged it near Pearl's mouth. Finally, Pearl quieted. But the kettle set off in its own shrillness.
Penelope didn't move. She stayed still with the baby. Just then she looked up to see Elliot with a towel wrapped around his middle.
"Oh." He backed away from the doorway. "I'll make tea." He held on to the towel as if he did everything with one hand, anyway.
Finally Penelope went to the kitchen, still holding Pearl as if she wouldn't want to upset her, in anyway. Elliot was busy looking for cookies, even if his towel was slipping. She could see the edge of his butt. She cleared her throat. He turned to see her with a smile, but he let the smile go soon enough and hurried back to the bedroom, shutting the door behind him.
"You know...I-I didn't think you'd come." He said aloud then from behind the bedroom door. "Its really a nice surprise." He came back in fresh clothes. Still he didn't wear shoes. He wore pajama pants and an old gray wife beater.
"Its good to see you too." She told him. "And, and she looks so much like you."
"Really? I don't think so." He winced. He talked about how she slept. "Not when I want her too. I dunno if I can do this, when school starts up. God, I hope she's on a schedule by then."
Penelope just listened. It didn't sound like Pearl would be back with her mother, anytime soon. Somehow, she adored Elliot even more. It wasn't that she'd seen him practically undressed, but it was the way he smiled when he talked about Pearl. There was something genuine and worthy that she yearned to know all the more about him. And maybe she would.