Everything's new. This boy and girl living situation is still new. This year is new. With a new little person to go with it. Everything is new to her; especially the house today. Hearing the keys unlock the door for the first time, the creak swinging it open and the light thud on the ragged carpet as Daddy's foot guides the way through the threshold.
"Welcome home, Alice. Mummy's girl, eh?" The crying says it all. Crying because Daddy took her away from Mummy. Crying because Daddy doesn't have a clue about anything about you. Keep crying. Go on. Someone might as well vocalise the whole situation. "Yep. Mummy's girl. Angry at Daddy. He took you away from lovely mummy and the nice comfortable hospital and brought you here to this cold, lonely house. I'm sorry mummy couldn't come home too. She'll come home soon. I'm sure. She better. She has to. She just needs a little time to rest. She'll get better." Nothing seems to calm the little thing down. Not that it's a surprise. Wasn't the best effort. Sitting up on the kitchen table in your travel chair will be better. No more moving. You're home now. You can watch Daddy search the cupboards for something to eat. Anything at all. Packet noodles. That'll do. Enough to keep going. Not much appetite for dinner these days, anyway.
Is it the crying or just the waiting that makes the water take forever to boil? Maybe the exhaustion. It's hard to even recognise that the crying is something new and something to be dealt with anymore. It's just here. Part of a new soundscape of life. She's pretty cute, though. Even with the crying. It's true when people say you like your own kid, even if you don't like others, or the concept of kids in general.
Pick up the saucepan, put it on the stove. Open up the packet and drop the noodles all out cold. Clank and clash to find a spoon to stir them all around. Finally grab the kettle and pour out the water with a fizzle sound. A little soundtrack to cooking dinner. A soundtrack that Alice seems to like. To be interested in; waiting for the next part. Okay. If you like the claps and clangs, that's what you'll get. Ready, Alice?
Ting, ting, ting the spoon rings against the pot, dripping the water away. Keep making noises. Clap the counters, bang the cupboards, bash the bin, get lost in the silliness, in the fun, in the noise and the happy baby sounds joining it. Little hums of content and curiosity. And then. Is that a giggle?
No. Not from Alice, anyway. Something outside, maybe. Probably complaints to keep it down. Who cares, though? It's better than the cries. There's a happy baby in the kitchen now. After a careful, quiet hospital where Angie wouldn't allow any noise, we've finally cracked it. Cracked, clanged and crashed it. This baby doesn't hate noise. Maybe she needs it. What music would she like? Drums. Something with drums. Daddy can't keep making them on his own while he eats, so we'll rely on some Radiohead to do the trick. Everybody like Radiohead, Alice will too. She's a cool baby. Just like her Daddy.
"You like it? Eh? Daddy's little girl. We don't meed mummy. Well, that's not true, but we'll get by for now. It's not so bad alone with Daddy, after all." Add in the slurp of the noodles for a bit of that live effect and Alice has no cares in the world. Until her dinner time. And then it will be all up to Daddy to get the milk formula right. And then changing time, to put the troublesome nappy on in precisely the right way so it doesn't fall off or create a leak. Trial and error is not something we want for a delicate little creature like you. But you might be getting it. Just until Mummy gets better and can take over like a pro. For now it's Daddy the amateur. Good luck, kid. Slurp on. Keep slurping the noodles. For Alice.
Angie said to clean up the kitchen. She says it after every meal, but it shouldn't have waited this time. Now there's a messy, dirty kitchen and no one with enough strength to clean it. Messy sink, messy counter, messy table. Even a messy pin board. Pins everywhere, with bills, letters, menus to takeaways they'll never enjoy again; and those train tickets all over the place.
Fucking train tickets. If only they were for now, not years ago. Five years ago these people weren't even living in this house. Actually, that's not true. It's been over five years since the first move into this house. Different groups of housemates, but one that's seen them all. Five years ago he was a different person. Early twenties, not mid. Fresh out of uni still. Slacking off with minimum wage jobs. No nine to five. Just whatever could be got. No baby. No live-in girlfriend. Shit.