He looks at me with doleful eyes; the perfect merging of dusty blue and light grey. He lifts his arms to be picked up. Tears slip down chubby cheeks. Guilt seeps into my core for shouting at him.
‘Oh bubba,’ I say, kissing his forehead. I wipe his wet cheeks with the sleeve of my top. It’s crusty with clumps of breakfast anyway. Resting on my hip, his head crashes into my chest.
‘Tired boy, time for a nap.’ We walk towards his room. I change his nappy and place him in the cot. He’s off before I leave the room.
I ignore the mess in the kitchen and take myself back to bed. My legs are heavy, throbbing; my shoulders ropy and tight. I sink into the mattress, letting it envelope me. My knees curl into my chest and sleep steals over my body.
A cat meowing wakes me, what feels like minutes later. Glancing at the clock, I’m confused, the numbers a hazy red glow. When they focus, I realise I’ve been asleep for over two hours. The cat’s insistent cries force me out of bed, and stumbling in a sleep-daze towards the sound, it dawns on me: I don’t have a cat. It’s him. My baby.
The result of a messy entanglement with my ex, which became even messier once I told him about the pregnancy. He moved interstate, refusing to have anything to do with me or the child. Anger fuelled me through the gestation. Hate-filled emails sat in my draft folder. They’re still there.
I sigh as I walk into his room. He’s on his back, blanket kicked aside, legs jerking up and down and arms out wide. He’s a capital T. Hunger makes this tiny little creature fierce. I watch the red scrunched-up face for a beat, my arms crossed leaning on the change table. Something moves inside me, a sweeping tsunami of love that crashes into my heart, breaking it into a thousand tiny pieces. He’s changed me. I’ll never be the old me.
We’ll be fine. I feel it, somehow. I just need to give him a name.