Sam hated the new baby. Truth was, Sam hated everyone these days. Since Dad had left and Mum had married The Loser and Sam had changed schools and Em had stopped speaking to him, nothing was good anymore. He slouched around mostly trying to avoid people. It worked OK at school, where he sat in the back corner of each classroom and kept his earbuds in at breaktimes, but he was not so lucky at his mum’s place. The baby was too loud. Also, he was supposed to look after it. Which he hated.
On this particular Saturday, his mum and The Loser had arranged to go on a date. Guess who was left at home with the baby. Like, sure, he would help out, but wasn’t he supposed to be the one dating? But no, he was trapped alone in a house in the suburbs with not so much as a bus stop outside and a burping, coughing, puking baby for company. Like some kind of horror film. Obviously, as soon as the front door closed, the baby started to cry.
Sam picked her up and gave her a hard look. She scrunched up her face and let out a howl. Her mouth was bigger than you’d think.
‘Shut up, kid’
She just got louder. Sam kind of understood how she felt. He let out a bit of a howl himself. The baby stopped mid-cry and looked at him, stunned. Sam howled louder. She whimpered. She stuck out her arms, jerkily, like she wasn’t sure how to work them. Sam remembered the first time he’d tried to drive a manual car and had bunny hopped 3 metres before stalling.
‘You think it sucks to be a baby? Try being a semi-adult in this godforsaken place.’
The baby looked at him doubtfully. She seemed to be concentrating hard.
‘Yeah, don’t bother trying to understand. You can learn to talk but nobody listens to you anyway.’
He laughed sarcastically.
‘Our mum is an expert in the history of words. No, literally, she actually writes books on the topic. Instead of, you know, talking to her kids. Like, how do you feel about moving schools? Or, would it be weird if I dumped you and had a completely new family? Or, how come that girl you liked doesn’t come round any more? Nup, SOOOO much better to think about where the word ‘disgruntled’ comes from. Oh, and she’s also an expert at picking up idiots like your dad. No offence. Mine’s an idiot too. I wouldn’t live with him if he begged me.’
So he was lying to a baby now. Should he feel bad? Probably. Did he? No. She seemed to like the sound of his voice.
‘It’s not mutual, kid.’
Whatever. He should probably take her for a walk. The pram always put her to sleep.
Sure enough, 25 minutes later, Sam was pacing along the concrete pavement past neat gardens and clean driveways with a pram full of sleeping baby. Suddenly, from nowhere, a girl stepped out into his path. He stopped, and removed one of his earbuds. She had long, wavy, dark brown hair. Her skin was the colour of caramel. He could see her belly under a white crop top. Her eyes were chocolate.
‘Hey, cute baby! Is it yours?’
‘No! Of course not. I mean, kinda. She’s my sister.’
The girl leaned over and peered deep into the pram. Her legs were long and tanned, like she’d spent a summer at the beach.
‘She’s adorable! You must love her!’
The girl flashed him a massive smile.
‘I’m Georgia, by the way.’
‘I’m Sam. And this is baby Gemma’
‘Hi Sam, hi baby Gemma. Are you new around here? Because – welcome to Boringsville. I can show you the sights if you like. It will take about 2 minutes. Can I hold Gemma when she wakes up?’
‘Sure. She’s really snuggly.’
Sam still hated the baby, obviously. He technically hated everyone, but for the first time in a long while he might make an exception.