SHORT STORY

Conversations with My Daughter
by Shaunna Privratsky

      “Alone at last, my sweet little one.  Every inch of you is just right: your tiny little fingers and toes, your round little belly and your squinched-up nose.  Your skin is incredibly soft.  You’re my little rose petal.  I love breathing in your sweet milky scent.

      “You are tiny yet your warm weight fills my arms just right.  You sure surprised us when you decided it was time to be born two weeks early.  You must have been as anxious to meet us as we were to meet you, my precious baby girl.  Don’t worry, I’ll keep you safe.  I’ll never let anything hurt you.  I love you.”

     “Goo ga coo ooo burrrp.”

*     *     *

      “What’s wrong, darling?  You can’t be hungry—I just fed you ten minutes ago.  There, there that’s better.  You just wanted Mommy to hold you.  You’re getting so big!  Three months old already.  You’re so cute.  I love you.  I guess I’ll just have to leave the laundry until later.  Hush little baby, don’t you cry...” 

*     *     *

      “Guess what?  We’re going to see Santa Claus.  I know you’re still so little but it will be exciting.  I’ll take lots of pictures to send to Grandma and Grandpa.

      “You look adorable in your fuzzy red sleeper.  Let’s get you bundled up in your snowsuit.  It’s chilly outside.  Here we go—wait.  What’s that smell?  Did you just go poopy?”

      “Hoo hoo heee ah.”

      “You think that’s funny, don’t you?  Oh!  Well at least you got it out of your system before we got to Santa’s house—he might’ve asked us to leave.

      “There—all fresh and clean.  Let’s get you dressed again.  Santa’s going to think you’re the most beautiful baby in the whole wide world.  I love you, baby girl.

      “Wait - what’s that smell?”

*     *     *

      “We’re getting company today!  Mommy has to clean the whole house so you can play with your toys.”

      “Mama, Mama!”

      “No, honey.  Mommy’s all yucky from washing the icky floor.  Show me your new kitty.”

      “Titty-tat?”

      “No, not Rascal.  He’s sleeping.  I mean your new pretend kitty, the pretty pink one.  Where is she?”

      “Titty bye bye.”

      “Where’s your music toy then?”

      “I wan’ titty-tat.”

      “Oh, okay.  I’m almost done anyways.  Let me wash my hands.  I guess Grandma isn’t coming to see how clean the house is.  Here’s your kitty.”

      “Uh uh.  I wan’ titty.”

      “No, leave Rascal alone.   Kitty’s tired.  Boy, you can really crawl fast.  I’ll bet you’ll be walking soon.  Hey come back here you silly thing.  No!  Not the plant!  Eeww, that’s yucky.”

      “Yucky.”

      “Yes, yucky.  Mommy has to put you in your playpen while I vacuum this up.  No, don’t cry.  Mommy’s not mad.  That’s an ugly old plant anyways.  Daddy picked it out.”

      “Yucky?”

      “Yucky is all cleaned up now.  I might as well go over the rest of the carpet again.  There, that’s all done.”

      “Titty yucky.”

      “What?  Oh Rascal!  I can’t believe you threw up!  Poor kitty.  Well, let’s put you out while I clean it up.  Whew!  Mommy needs to relax for a minute.  All this cleaning makes me tired.  Want to snuggle with me on the couch?”

      “Hmmm.”

      “Maybe we should take a little nap before Grandma and Grandpa get here.  Night, night baby girl.  I love you.” 

*     *     *

      “Hurry honey.  We have to go home now.  Mommy still has the dishes to do and laundry and I was going to clean your room today and I have to make lunch.  Besides, we’ve been here for an hour and a half already.  Aren’t you getting hungry for lunch?”

      “NO!”

      “Come on, we really have to go.  I promise we’ll come to the park again tomorrow.”

      “NO!  I WON’T GO! NOOOOOOOOO!”

      “Okay.  I guess I’ll have to carry you.  I love you, you know.”

      “NO!” 

*     *     *

      “Hurry darling. We’re going to be late for pre-school.”

      “I don’t wanna go today.  I’m too tired.”

      “You always say that.  Come on now, I’ll help you get dressed.  Do you want to wear pants or a dress?”

      “A dress.  Mommy, why do I have to go to school?”

      “Just because.  Besides, you always have so much fun playing with the other girls.”

      “Okay.  Hurry, Mommy.  I don’t want to be late.  Drive faster!”

      “Here we are.  Do you want me to walk you in?”

      “NO!  I can do it myself!”

      “Okay, okay.  I love you.”

      “I love you too, Mommy.” 

*     *     *

      “You’re doing it!  You’re doing it all by yourself!  Oh, I’m so proud of you!  I knew you could do it if you just kept practicing.  Good job!”

      “Can I ride to the corner?”

      “Sure, I’ll come with you.”

      “No!  I want to go by myself.”

      “Well, just be careful.  I love you.  I’m really proud that you can ride your bike!”

      “Bye!  I love ya!” 

*     *     *

      “I don’t think you’re ready for a sleepover, sweetheart.  You still have bad dreams and I have to come down to your room almost every night.”

      “Moooom!  Pleeeeeeeeese?  I’m already almost eight!”

      “Are you sure you want to?”

      “Yes! Please, please, please, please, PLEASE!  Daddy said it was okay.”

      “Okay.  But just call me if you want me to come and get you.”

      “Thanks Mom.  You’re the best!  Bye!”

      “I love you!”

      Door bangs shut.

*     *     *

      “Darling, you haven’t eaten a bite.  Eat.”

      “I’m not hungry.”

      “You have to eat something.  Try a little of the omelet.  It’s your favorite.”

      “Eeeww.  Not anymore.”

      “Then have a bite of toast.  You’re just skin and bones.  You’re not on some crazy diet, are you?  You definitely don’t have to worry about getting fat.  You’ve always been as skinny as a rail.”

      “Moooom.  Can I please be excused?  I’m really not hungry.  I’ll eat lunch at school, okay?  I’ve gotta go.  I’m gonna be late.”

      “I’ll see you after school.  Bye, I love you.”

      “Love you too.  I’m going over to a friend’s house so I won’t be home until supper.”

      “Okay.  I love you.”

      “Mom.  We already did that.”

      “Oh, yeah.  Right.  Bye.” 

*     *     *

      “Ma’am, is this your daughter?”

      “What?  What time is it, Officer?”

      “3:00 AM, Ma’am.  Is this your daughter?”

      “Yes, yes of course.  What did she do?  Are you all right, honey?  Come here.”

      “She was in a car accident with six other teenagers.  She’s lucky.  She just has a few bumps and bruises.  The driver of the other vehicle wasn’t so lucky.  He’s in the hospital with multiple broken bones and a concussion.”

      “Oh honey!”

      “I’m sorry, Mom.  We weren’t drinking, I swear.  Joe just didn’t see that truck in time.”

      “Is that all, Officer?”

      “Yes, Ma’am.  Your daughter has already given a statement so we shouldn’t need anything further.  You have a good evening now.”

      “Thank you.  And thank you so much for bringing my daughter home.”

      “You could have been killed!  And who is this Joe?  You know you’re not allowed to date until you’re sixteen, and that’s still four months away!  You could have been killed.”

      “Don’t cry Mom.  I’m okay, really.  And we weren’t on a date.  A bunch of us were just driving around after the show, that’s all.  It was just an accident.  Please don’t cry.”

      “I’m sorry.  I just worry so much about you.  What if you’d been seriously hurt?  Or worse?”

      “Well, I wasn’t Mom.”

      “Thank God.  I love you so much.  I never want to lose you.”

      “You’ll never lose me, Mom.  Now can I go to bed?  I’m really tired.”

      “Sure.  Sleep good.  We’ll talk more in the morning.”

      “Okay.  Night, Mom.” 

*     *     *

      “Where do you think you’re going?  Get back here!  I said, GET BACK HERE!”

      “What?”

      “That’s better.  Now I want to know who you’re going to the fair with.”

      “None of your business.”

      “I’m making it my business, young lady.  Now speak up.”

      “I can’t believe you’re doing this to me!  No one else’s mother is such a witch!”

      “You watch your language, or you won’t be going to the fair at all.”

      “Mooooom!”

      “I’m waiting.”

      “Okay, okay.  I’m going with Susan, Crystal and Beth.  Okay?  Can I go now, Mother?”

      “Any boys?  And what time are you going to be home?”

      “No, no boys, Mother.  For your information, I’m practically the only girl in the whole universe that doesn’t have a steady boyfriend.  It’s all because of your stupid rules, not letting me date until I was sixteen and having a stupid curfew and being forced to tell you exactly where I’m going to be at any given moment.”

      “It’s because your father and I care so much about you.  We love you, you know.  You’re still so young.”

      “Well, I’ll be eighteen next fall and I can do whatever I want then.”

      “Okay.  Until then, I still want to know when you’ll be home tonight.”

      “AAAAAAH!  Fine, fine!  Probably around midnight!  Geez, I’ve gotta be the only girl on the planet who still has a curfew!”

      “All right.  You can go.  I love you.”

      “I hate you.”

      Door slams. 

*     *     *

      “Just tell me where you’re going, please?”

      “I’m getting the hell out of here and you and Dad can’t stop me!”

      “We’re not trying to, we just want to know where you’ll be so we can call you.”

      “So you can keep tabs on me?  NO THANKS!  You’re done calling the shots, Mom.  Joe’s taking me out of this stupid town and I’ll be the one deciding if I call or not.”

      “Honey, can’t we talk about this?  You know we don’t entirely trust Joe; he’s been in trouble with the law...”

      “Don’t you ever listen?  He was set up!  That jerk Brad put that pot in his car.  Plus his suspension is up, so it’s all legal for us to clear out.  There’s nothing you can do about it!”

      “Will you remember one thing, though?”

      “What?”

      “I’ll always love you, no matter what.  This will always be your home if you want to come back.”

      “Yeah, right.  There’s Joe.  Bye Mom.  I’ll probably call when I get there, but don’t hold your breath.”

      “I love you!  I’ll always love...”

      Door slams shut.

*     *     *

      “Mom?”

      “Yes!  Oh thank God you’re okay!  It’s been three whole months without a word.  You can’t imagine all the horrible things that have been going through my mind.  Is everything okay with you and Joe?  Are you alright?”

      “I guess so.  I’m pregnant.”

      “Oh.”

      “See!  I knew this was a bad idea!  I told Joe you would ex-communicate me or something.  I shouldn’t have called...”

      Phone slams. 

*     *     *

     “Mom, could you come?”

     “What is it, what’s wrong?”

     “Mom I need you.  I lost the baby.”

     “Oh honey!  Oh, I’m so sorry!  I’ll be right there!  I’ll call your father at work and let him know.  Where are you?"

     "We have a little apartment in Mystique."

     "That's only an hour from here.  I’ll leave right away.”

     “Just hurry, Mom.  I can’t stand this.  I think I’m going to die.”

     “No, no you won’t.  Just hang on, darling.  I’ll be there as soon as I can.  Oh, sweetheart, I’m so so sorry!  I love you so much!  Where’s Joe?”

     “He’s in the other room.  He won’t talk to me.”

     “He’s just hurt and grieving like you are.  Go to him.  You have to get through this together.”

     “I think he hates me.  He wanted a son so badly.   Oh, Mom, it hurts!”

     “I know honey and I’m so sorry.  Have you called a doctor?”

     “Yes, we just got back from the emergency room.  They gave me drugs but it still hurts, you know?  Even though I was only four months along.  My heart... I don’t know.  It feels...broken.”

     “Oh honey.  Just hang on and I’ll be there soon, okay?  What's your address?”

     “1767 Dove Lane.”

     “I'll be there just as soon as I can. I love you, sweetie.”

     “I know Mom.” 

*     *     *

      “Mom, can I borrow your veil?  I’ve been shopping for six months and nothing goes with my dress and the wedding is only three weeks away and the caterer said he’s booked and the church wants another deposit because they can’t find any record of the first one and I don’t know where I’m going to come up with another $300 and…”

      “Slow down.  Take a deep breath.  Everything is going to work out fine.  Of course you can borrow my veil.  I’ll have to make sure it doesn’t have any tears or stains or anything.”

      “I’m sure it will be fine.  It’s just got to be!”

      “Should I bring it over tomorrow?”

      “Yeah-that would be great!  I love you, Mom.”

      “I love you, too.” 

*     *     *

      “Mom, guess what?  You won’t believe it!”

      “You’re pregnant?”

      “Oh, Mom.  How did you know?”

     “I could tell by the sound of your voice.  Oh I’m so happy for you!  How far along are you?”

     “Just a couple of months.  We found out this morning.  We wanted to confirm it with the doctor before we called with the good news.”

     “I am so thrilled! Did the doctor give you any special instructions or anything?”

     “You mean because I’ve already had a miscarriage?  No, he said everything should be fine.  I only lost the other baby because there was probably something wrong with it.  Dr. Akins said I’m perfectly healthy even though it’s only been six months.  Everything is completely normal and he said I should have an uneventful pregnancy.”

     “Oh, I’m so happy.  Should I come and stay with you and help out?”

     “Well, maybe when the baby is born.  I’d like that.”

     “Okay, let’s plan on that then.  Will you keep me posted?”

     “Of course.  I love you, Mom.”

     “I know, sweetheart.  I love you too.”

*     *     *

      “Would you like to hold your first granddaughter, Mom?”

      “Oh, yes.  Oh, she’s so precious.  Look at how wispy her hair is, just like yours was.  Oh, she smells so good!  I had forgotten how wonderful babies smell.”

      “Oh, she’s starting to cry.  Let me take her.  She’s probably hungry.”

      “Here you go, precious.  Go to your Mommy.  She was hungry!  Look at her eat.  With that kind of appetite she’ll be up and walking before you know it.”

      “Slow down, Grandma.  She’s only three days old.”

      “Yes, darling but they grow up so fast.”

      “Well, I can’t wait until she grows up enough to sleep through the night.  I’m exhausted!  I don’t know how you did it with me and the boys.  I’d go crazy if I had three kids.”

      “No you wouldn’t.  You’d cope, just like you always do.  I’m so proud of you, sweetheart.  My little girl, all grown up and a Mommy now.  I love you so much.”

      “I love you too Mom.”

      “Can I hold her again?”

      “Sure, Mom.”

      “I love the name Rose.  Do you remember I used to call you my little rose-petal?”

      “No, I guess I don’t remember that.  I just remember you always saying ‘I love you’ even when I was mad at you or being a brat or just plain rotten.  You still always said it.”

      “That’s because it’s true.  I’ll always love you, no matter what.  You better take Rose back, she looks worried.”

      “There, there Rose.  Don’t cry; Mommy’s here.  I love you.”

      “Ga ga cooo ooop burrrp.” 

 END

Books by Shaunna Privratsky:

      

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