Re: Doorstep (Sixth and Seventh Chapters 9/23/10)
Chapter Seven: The New Arrival Process
Mama took a seat at the table in the kitchen and pulled the cordless phone from her apron pocket. Dialing from memory she waited for the person she was calling to answer.
“Hello?” came a male voice on the other end of the phone.
Mama cleared her throat before speaking. “Hello, this is Genevieve Whitman, Natalie’s mother.” She started.
“Yes, hello Mrs. Whitman, what can I do for you?” the man asked.
“I just wanted to let you know that Natalie is very ill and had to close the shop early today. I was wondering if you could possibly cover for her for the next few days. I just don’t think she’ll be well enough to be there.” Mama explained.
There was a pause for a moment on the other end of the phone. “Gee Mrs. Whitman, I’d love to cover for Nat, but I’m afraid I’m going out of town for the weekend.” The man explained.
Mama took a deep breath and exhaled sharply. “Well, I hope that whatever you’re doing this weekend is worth losing your job over, Tyler.” She threatened.
Tyler stammered. “Mrs. Whitman, I cleared this trip with you weeks ago!” he pleaded.
“I’m well aware of that Tyler, and I am sorry that I have to put a damper on your plans, but the simple fact of it is that it’s my shop and I need someone to run it while my only child is sick. Now, will you hold down the fort until Natalie is well again, or should I start looking for someone who will?” she asked.
Tyler sighed. “You know what? Go fuck yourself Mrs. Whitman.” He said before hanging up the phone.
Mama ended the call on her phone and then sat for a moment shaking her head. “Such a naughty boy.” She muttered to herself. Replacing the phone into her apron pocket, Mama set to work preparing things for the new little girl that she was expecting Papa to bring home with him. The room adjacent to the kitchen was the starting point for all of the “bundles of joy” as she referred to them.
A single chair sat in the center of the room. The windows were blacked out and covered with thick curtains so the new child would have no concept of time within the room. On one wall was a cabinet filled with assorted cloth diapers and clothing of various sizes and gender appropriateness. On the other wall was a very clinical looking changing table. Near the door was a metal table on casters so it could be wheeled around, atop the small table were various syringes and bottles of assorted drugs.
Mama preferred not to use the drugs unless the child became unruly, which tended to happen once they were past a certain age. She made sure everything was put together in an orderly and organized fashion so nothing was further than arms reach or so when it was needed before she crossed the hall to the guest bathroom.
Everything in the bathroom was white, floor to ceiling pristine white. The bathroom would be the second stop on the journey, providing of course that all had gone to plan in the first room. Mama carefully laid out travel size containers of baby shampoo, and bubble bath, a washcloth, and several large fluffy towels as an afterthought she placed a comb atop the towels so she could brush the new girl’s hair.
The final stop would be one of the nurseries. Mama loved the nurseries, even more than she loved the toddler rooms, one of which Natalie currently occupied. There was nothing in the nurseries that she didn’t love. Everything evoked a feeling of maternal love so strong that she sometimes hated leaving. In total the house had two nurseries and two toddler rooms, one for each gender. As a rule, the house never had more than one child per room, a rule that Mama enforced strictly.
Mama opened the door to the girl’s nursery and breathed deeply the perfume scent of baby powder. She walked to the large wooden crib that Papa had built himself and checked that the bed was made. The truth of the matter was that the room had gone unused since little Sierra had left them six months ago, Mama regretted having to be so firm with her babies, but once they reached a certain age the choice had to be made whether they would “grow up” like Natalie, or make the final journey to a new home. To date, Natalie was the only one of their “babies” to make it to toddlerhood, but Natalie was their first so they were much more lenient with her when it came to “growing up”. Mama sighed as she thought of how proud she was of Natalie; she knew that one day, after her and Papa were dead and buried, Natalie would make herself a new family within the house and keep it humming with love and togetherness as they did.
Her preparations finished, Mama took a seat on the couch with a book and listened to Natalie’s quiet snores on the baby monitor. A few hours went by before she heard Papa’s truck pull up outside the house. The vehicles brakes screeched loudly as he stopped and got out of the truck. Mama set her book down and went to the front door, she opened it and smiled as she watched Papa walk around to the passenger side, open the door and pull a sleeping girl of about ten or twelve out.
“She’s beautiful.” Mama said as she watched Papa kick the truck door shut and make his way to the house.
Papa nodded. “I knew she was the one right when I saw her.” He said with a smile as he entered the house and made his way to the room with the chair.
“Did she give you any trouble?” Mama asked as she followed behind her husband and watched him set the girl in the chair.
Papa shook his head. “She’ll be awful sore when she finds out I lied about trying to find my dog.” He said with a chuckle. “But, I suppose getting over that will be the easiest thing given what lies ahead.” He added.
“What’d you use on her?” Mama asked as she marveled at how angelic the girl looked while she slept in the chair.
“Tiny bit of Chloroform, just enough to put her out for the drive. She’ll be awake within the hour.” He explained. “Natalie napping?” he asked.
Mama nodded. “I should go wake her though, I promised I’d let her help with this one.” She said.
“You think she’s ready for that kind of responsibility?” he asked.
Mama smiled. “I think so. She has to learn sometime, right?” she asked.
Papa nodded and kissed his wife on the cheek. “Go get her then, I’ll see if I can’t wake this little angel here.” He said gesturing to the sleeping girl.
Mama left the room, closing the door behind her, and crossed the hall to Natalie’s room. She crept quietly to the bed and reached down brush the hair out of the sleeping girl’s face. “Wake up angel, the new baby is here.” She said sweetly.
Natalie stirred a bit and groaned a sleepy protest before the words she’d heard sunk into her sleep fogged mind and she was instantly wide awake. “Really?!” she asked, her eyes wide with delight.
Mama nodded and smiled. “Papa is waking her up right now.” She explained.
Natalie shot over the low railing of the toddler bed and raced over to the changing table where she waited for Mama to come and get her out of her pajamas and change her diaper as she did every morning.
Mama smiled and made her way to Natalie. “Mama will change you later honey, you need to stay just how you are until we’ve settled things with the new baby. Understand?” she asked.
Natalie nodded. “You gotta show her that it’s okay for a big girl to be a baby too, right?” she asked.
Mama leaned in and kissed Natalie on the forehead. “That’s absolutely right baby. You’re such a smart girl.” She praised. “Now when we get to the room I need you to stand in the back as quiet as you can until Mama or Papa tells you to come over, can you do that?” she asked.
Natalie nodded and pressed her lips together before making a locking motion on them with an invisible key.
“Good girl.” Mama said as she took Natalie by the hand and led her to the other room.
The girl was still asleep when they arrived. Mama scooted Natalie to the back of the room after Papa greeted her with a hug and kiss. Natalie stared at the girl in the chair as she walked past and had to bite her bottom lip to keep from squealing with glee that she had a new little sister, and that for the first time she would be instrumental in helping acclimate the new baby with the idea of being a baby again.
Everyone watched intently as the girl stirred and moaned softly as she woke up. Her eyes opened slowly as the drugged sleep faded away. She could see two people in front of her as she rubbed her eyes with her hands to aid the waking up process. The man she recognized as the driver of the truck she’d gotten into. The woman she didn’t recognize, but felt at ease by the sight of her, much like someone does when they see a friendly old lady.
“What happened?” the girl asked.
Papa smiled at the girl. “You fell asleep while we were driving. I didn’t know where you lived, so I brought you home with me.” He lied.
The girl thought. She couldn’t remember much of anything after getting into the truck. “Well, I’m awake now, can you take me home?” she asked.
“I’m afraid I can’t do that tonight little lady, my eyes aren’t up to the task of driving at night anymore. But if you give me your phone number I can call your parents and see if they can come and get you.” Papa explained.
The girl nodded. “Its 555-713-2987.” She told him. “My mom’s name is Debby, and my dad’s name is Bill.” She added.
Papa wrote the information down on a slip of paper he had in his shirt pocket. “And your name?” he asked.
“Tamara Leonard.” The girl answered.
Papa nodded and wrote the information down. “Alright Tamara, you sit tight with my wife here, and I’ll give your folks a call.” He explained with a smile before leaving the room.
Mama brushed the young girl’s hair from her face gently and smiled. “You’re a very pretty girl Tamara. How old are you?” she asked.
“Eleven ma’am. I’ll be twelve in three weeks though.” She added with a sense of pride.
Mama just smiled at the girl and listened for Papa’s theatrics.
In the kitchen Papa pretended to call Tamara’s parents. “Hello, this is Earl Whitman calling. Is this Bill Leonard?” he asked. Pausing as if listening to a response he continued. “It’s about his daughter Tamara. Uh huh. Oh my goodness, that’s terrible. Both of them? How awful. Well thank you officer, I’ll bring the girl by the station in the morning. What’s that? I’ll ask her if she wants to, but if not I’ll bring her down there. Thank you again officer.” Papa said, concluding his fake phone call and returning to the room.
“What happened Earl?” Mama asked.
Papa sighed heavily and knelt down in front of Tamara. “I’m so sorry honey, both your parents are gone.” He said.
“Gone?” Tamara asked.
Papa nodded. “It seems a man broke into the house and tried to rob it, but your daddy scared him and he shot him. Then he went and did the same to your mommy, the police caught him, but they couldn’t help your parents.” He explained.
Tamara sat in shock. “Dead? But, they can’t be dead.” She said, tears welling up in her eyes and spilling down her cheeks. “Where will I go?” she asked.
Papa pulled the girl in for a hug. “You can stay here with us if you like, honey.” He offered.
Tamara sniffled into Papa’s chest and began sobbing in earnest. She tried to say something, but it got garbled by her crying and just came out a sputtering mess.
Mama guided Papa back and embraced Tamara herself. “We can take care of you dear.” She said reassuringly.
After a solid half hour of crying Tamara was finally able to formulate coherent sentences, albeit between sniffles and stifled sobs. “You’ll take care of me?” she asked finally.
Mama nodded. “As if you were our own flesh and blood.” She said.
Tamara felt comforted by Mama’s smile and was able to force a small smile of her own. “Thank you.” She said quietly as more tears began to freely fall.
Mama leaned in. “You know what always makes me feel better when I’m sad?” she asked.
Tamara shook her head. “What?” she asked.
“A nice warm bath and a glass of warm milk before bed.” Mama replied. “Does that sound good to you?” she asked.
Tamara nodded and took Mama’s hand when it was offered and followed the kind lady out of the room to the bathroom across the hall.
Papa watched them leave with a smile on his face before turning back to Natalie. “Sorry we couldn’t use you this time Pumpkin, but you’ll still get to help with what comes later.” He told her.
Natalie feigned a smile and nodded. “Yes Papa.” She said quietly.
Papa left the room to go get some dinner and left Natalie alone with her thoughts.
“I can’t believe I didn’t get to help.” She thought, her bottom lip jutting out ever so slightly. “What am I supposed to do now? Just stand here?” she asked herself. “No, Mama said I could help, I wanna help.” She said. Mind made up, Natalie crossed the room and the hall and entered the bathroom.
The door swinging open startled Tamara and Mama equally as they were in the process of getting Tamara undressed so she could get into the filling tub.
“Natalie! What are you doing?!” Mama shouted angrily.
Natalie went to Tamara and grabbed the girl, hugging her tightly. “I’m Natalie, I’m gonna be your big sister!” she exclaimed. “I’m sorry your parents are dead.” She said sadly. “But you’ll be better once Mama gets a nice soft diaper on you.” She explained happily.
Mama fumed and grabbed Natalie by the top of the ear, twisting forcefully. “Papa! Come get Natalie!” she bellowed, something which Mama never did.
Papa dashed from the kitchen to the bathroom and grabbed Natalie by the hand, yanking her out of the room and causing her to lose her footing and fall face first in the hallway. Not wasting a second, Papa hoisted the girl up from the floor by the back of her pajamas and dragged her down the hall to her room.
Mama slammed the bathroom door when she was satisfied everything outside was under control. “I’m so sorry about that dear. I’m afraid Natalie isn’t quite right in the head.” She explained.
“What’d she mean you were gonna put a diaper on me? And why was she dressed like that?” Tamara asked, backing away from Mama slowly.
Mama smiled. “As I said dear, she’s crazy. She thinks it’s normal for an adult to be a baby, we let her do it because she’s our daughter and we love her.” She explained. “Now, let’s get you into the tub.” Mama said as she reached past Tamara and turned off the faucet in the tub.
Tamara shook her head. “I wanna go.” She said.
Mama sighed. “I’m sorry dear, but you’re not going anywhere.” She said ominously as she approached the girl.
Tamara panicked tried to run into Mama to knock her down, she found that her tiny frame lacked the weight to overpower the grown woman and almost bounced off of her, hitting the back of her head on the lip of the tub and blacking out.
To Be Continued…