26 Jul 2013

Story I wrote published by ABC Open

Here is a story I wrote as part of the ABC Open program. It was inspired by the theme "Things we do for love" and can be found on the ABC website.

Be Still

Pride isn't usually a good thing. But this kind of pride is. My beautiful Santi is already eight months old. I observe him while I drink my coffee. He sits on the floor, turning one of his favourite toys, a cardboard box, left and right. He picks up his tambourine and hits it energetically while he squeals with excitement, then lunges forward trying to reach a set of plastic rings of different colours, while he repeats the sounds “dada” and “mama”. As he starts to rub his eyes I put my coffee down and pick him up. He gives me the warmest smile, the sweetest sparkle in his big brown eyes. As I talk to him he holds my face with both hands and gently bites my nose with his four teeth.

Several times I try to put him in his cot but the edges of his mouth curl down, his arms tense up and tears roll down his face. His cries sound like a little engine struggling to start. I lift him from his cot and hold him close, kissing his face and stroking his head. “Mamá está aquí, mi niño.” Mum’s here, my darling. “You just need to go for a little snooze.”
So I sit on the sofa with Santi on my lap, cover him up to his chest with one of his woolly blankets, the one with the pattern of little bears on it, and I lean back, hugging his little arms and kissing the back of his head while I hum a tune I've made up.

 I move my legs slowly left and right and he soon becomes very still, his head falling slightly to one side. I can hear his deep breaths and feel his chest move up and down under my arms. His hair is a subtle scent of honey under my nose.  My back starts to hurt and I wriggle in my seat, trying to find a comfortable position without disturbing him. And then I sit still and concentrate on the weight of his body on my lap, the shape of his tiny hands under the blanket, the soft noises he makes in his sleep, the profile of his turned-up nose, which has hardly changed since we first saw it in my 20 week pregnancy scan. “This is happiness”, I think to myself.

For an hour and a half I sit, slightly tensed up, stretching my back or my neck whenever they start to hurt, listening to the world around me. The loud crows of the ravens, the neighbours’ dogs, the odd train arriving at Hamilton station... I watch a bit of TV on mute. Then Santi starts to babble, snort and try to free his arms from my embrace. He moves his head backwards and looks at me, the usual sparkle in his bright, dark eyes. He smiles. “Dadadadadada.”

It’s time for Santi’s lunch.