Pretty Little Things with the Bright Green Eyes
I somehow managed to pull my self together and call a neighbor to see if I could borrow a cradle. I picked it up and was washing some old baby blankets when a car pulled in the driveway. I ran outside followed closely by Andy and then Pete. The girl was already out of her seat standing on the pavement and Patrick was wrestling with the baby carrier. She was small for a four year old. She was in tattered blue jean shorts and a dirty t-shirt that was big enough to be her mother’s. She had skinned knees and her greasy black hair hung limply around her smudged face. But her eyes. Piercing green like they could see into your soul. I knelt down next to the scared little girl. “Hi, “ I said cheerfully, “I’m Lauren. What’s your name?”
“Alison.” She said shyly.
“Well Alison, you’re gonna stay at my house for a few days is that ok?” She nodded and the baby started to scream having sat still in the carrier for far to long. “What’s your brother’s name?”
“Ok well I’m going to go help Uncle Patrick with Collin. Will you go inside with Andy here? He’ll show you some toys you can play with ok?” I looked meaningfully at Andy, but I didn’t need to. He was already reaching for the girl’s hand.
“Hi Alison.” He said softly. She slowly took his hand and allowed him to lead her into the house dragging a torn and dirty blanket.
I then turned my attention to the screaming infant still stuck in the car Evan was now fighting with the seat and Patrick was sitting defeated on the ground. I moved Evan gently aside and unhooked the baby from the carrier leaving it in the car. “Hush baby, “ I said rocking him a bit in my arms, picking up the Wal-Mart sack with the baby stuff in it and taking him into the house. He had his sister’s hair and eyes, and nothing but a diaper on. I left the sack on the table, but took the wipes and the diapers to my room. As I passed the living room I saw Alison playing quietly on the floor as Andy flipped through channels.
“What’s a kid’s channel?”
“Umm number 64 should have something on.” I said continuing down the hall. After I changed Collin’s diaper and cleaned him up a bit he still was not quiet so I took him to get a bottle. When I got to the kitchen one was already done and Joe was standing there.
“I did it earlier and figured he was probably ready for another round.” He said when I looked at him quizzically.
“Where’s Ev, Pete, and Patrick?” I asked.
“Outside, I don’t think Trick’s handling this well.”
“Ok. Can you feed the baby?”
“Sure. The social worker showed us how to hold him.” He said taking the baby from me.
“Ok. Try to get him to go to sleep. There’s a cradle in my room ok?”
I walked outside where Patrick was still sitting on the ground his head now in his hands and Pete and Evan stood looking supremely awkward. I rolled my eyes and thought ‘boys…’ I shooed them into the house and they looked very relieved. I sat next to Patrick and put my arm around him. “Hey there, killer, how ya doin?”
He looked at me with tears in his eyes and I immediately gathered him into a hug. “What am I suppose to do?” he asked into my shoulder.
“It’s okay,” I soothed, “You’ll take care of them as best you can.”
“I don’t know how.”
“Well that’s why you have me.” I replied patting his back. “Everything will work out.”
We just sat there for a while. “Come on, kid, you’re the only one they know. Let’s get in there.” I pulled him to his feet and we went inside.
The baby was asleep and Alison was sprawled on the living room floor with the boys sitting on the couch all intently watching the Backyardigans. I sat down next to Andy and Patrick sat next to me. When a commercial came on Alison came and crawled on Patrick’s lap. He looked at me with fear in his eyes and I gave him a reassuring smile. “Hey Alison, where did you get that blanket?”
“My aunty gave it to me when I was just a baby.”
“Well it sure is pretty. Can I see it?”
She looked down at her blanket and then up at me with distrust in her eyes. She shook her head no.
I gave her a wink and a smile and stood up. I sat back down a few minutes later having retrieved a blanked from the laundry room. “See this blankie? My Grandma made it for me when I was a baby. See how nice and soft it is? Do you want to borrow my blankie and I’ll take yours and wash it so it can be clean and soft too?”
She reached out to touch the soft pink fleece in my hands, she then looked back and forth between the two. Slowly she nodded and offered me her blanket. “Thank you.” I said. I wait for a few minutes to make sure she was ok with her choice before I got up to put it in the washer. When I came back into the room Alison was asleep clutching my blankie and her head lolling on Patrick’s shoulder, who was asleep too.
After taking a picture I gently woke up Patrick and took Alison from him. I walked into my room and she stirred in my arms. “Hush sweetie its time for bed.” I pulled out an old t-shirt and changed her then I took her to the bathroom. “Can you go by yourself?” she sleepily nodded.
Back in the room I tucked her into the makeshift bed on my floor next to the cradle. “Ok sweetie, Collin is right next to you, and I sleep in that big bed so if you need anything in the middle of the night go there or to the living room ok?” She nodded. “Ok goodnight.” I kissed her on the forehead.
As I turned around I saw Patrick in the doorway. He walked passed me and sat down next to Alison. “Night, tiger.” He said kissing her forehead to and pausing to stroke her hair.
I felt myself tear up as I watched. When we got back to the living room I saw Krissy had joined us. She gave me a hug before we all sat down.
“Ok,” Patrick said with resolve. “What do we do?”
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