Gina woke with a start.
The feral chickens were announcing the dawn in their raucous fashion. She still wasn’t used to it.
She rolled over and looked at her alarm clock, it was three a.m. Paolo, their son, which Tony had nicknamed Pigeon, was thankfully still sleeping in his crib. He had fussed continually, something in the milk did not agree with him, and poor Pige was so gassy and uncomfortable he’d wailed non-stop every night at dinnertime for the first six months of his life.
Gina desperately needed a break. Pige had been up every four hours like clockwork. After four months their pediatrician, Dr. Kim, finally came up with a rice formula that Paolo could digest.
Thank the feline gods both her mother and her mother-in-law were on their way to Hawaii to see the baby.
In the meantime, Gina had her exercise class with free babysitting. Tony approved.
He’d frowned on her bulky postnatal shape right after she’d left the hospital. Had actually snarled something particularly nasty, even for him, the barb neatly pinning her to her fate soon after they got home, ensuring that she was sealed tightly in her bubble away from the outside world.
Tony clawed at her belly, grabbing a chunk twisting and squeezing it for effect.
“How could you let yourself get this fat?”
Gina didn’t answer. She couldn’t believe her ears. Instinctively, she’d looked down, pried his paw off of her stomach and turned away simultaneously peeking up at his face.
He wasn’t kidding. Gina’s shock turned into dread.
Gina couldn’t help it. The tears began streaming down her face. She wanted to run upstairs and hide but managed to hold on tight to their baby. A few seconds later she heard
the next-door neighbor Marilyn knocking on their door to congratulate them. She had no choice but to open the door and greet her. Gina tried to hold it together as Marilyn cooed over their bundle of joy.
Marilyn continued to ooh and ah as
the minutes crawled by. But only five minutes had actually passed when Marilyn mistaking her tears for tiredness said her aloha and assured Gina and Tony that she’d be happy to babysit their precious little Paolo anytime. Marilyn had five kittens of her own; one more wouldn’t be a speck of trouble.
That was the beginning of the dark days that lay ahead. The next day after Tony had left for work Gina had phoned her parents to announce the new arrival and of Tony’s strange behavior. Gina’s dad assured her it was too late to turn back now. She’d made her bed. Time to grow up.
Gina’s light dimmed after that.
She silently vowed to the aliens or whoever would listen that this would be the last child of hers that Tony would father.