A Different Blue Page 76

“Blue! You twit! Why didn't you tell me you were coming? I would have ordered lunch and champagne to celebrate! And I would have had a chance to change my blouse! Melody spit up all over it. She spits up on everything, so be warned. At the very least I could have changed her nappies so she could make a good first impression! As it is, you are going to have to put up with us as we are – smelly and hungry!” Tiffa's laughter floated around me like a balmy breeze, and I relaxed immediately, letting her pull me toward the bedroom.

Melody's nursery looked like a garden with butterflies and birds fluttering on the walls and perched on the branches of blossomed trees. A chipmunk poked his head from a hole in the trunk, and a family of rabbits hopped along the wall above the the plush pale green carpeting. The ceiling was a blue sky, peppered with fat white clouds and a flock of tiny geese flying in V formation. A wise old owl looked down from a branch that stretched above the crib, which was draped in seafoam green canopy, sprinkled in little pink flowers, like a little hill in springtime. There were stuffed animals straight out of the movie Bambi lining the edges of the room, and a giant white rocker brimming with flower-shaped pillows took up another corner.

It was absolutely enchanting. Every little girl should have a room like that. But it was the baby in the crib that held my attention. She gurgled and kicked her chubby legs. The black hair that she had at birth had morphed into a lighter brown, and she had easily doubled in size. I had only seen her for a few seconds, but those seconds were burned in my brain. This baby looked very different tfrom the image in my head. But her eyes were blue. She smiled and wiggled, arms and legs churning, and I found myself smiling back, blinking through eyes that had suddenly filled with tears. The regret that I had feared, that I had dreaded, that had kept me away, didn't crash down on me like I thought it would. The tears in my eyes felt more like relief than sorrow, and I clung to Tiffa's hand, grateful for her in a way I would never be able to put into words.

“She is . . . so . . . so..” I stammered

“Perfect,” Tiffa finished, her own eyes shining with tears as she put her arms around me and squeezed me fiercely. “Perfect. Dirty nappies and all. Let me change her bum so you can hold her.”

In three months, Tiffa had become a pro, changing the diaper with deft hands and whisking it all away while she cooed and talked to Melody, whose eyes stayed trained on her face. Tiffa let me powder Melody's wrinkly pink tush, and we both sneezed loudly when I got a little carried away.

Tiffa laughed. “You do it just like Jack. He says you can never have too much baby powder. When Daddy's on duty, Melody gives off a little fragrant poof every time she kicks.”

Tiffa scooped Melody up and set her in my arms.

“Here. You rock the wee one while I get her bottle.” Tiffa patted my cheek, dropped a kiss on Melody's flyaway hair, and was out of the room before I could protest. I sat stiffly on the edge of the rocker. Not counting the few seconds after Melody's birth, I had never held a baby. I tried not to hold her too loosely or too tight, but her face wrinkled in dissatisfaction and her lower lip jutted out, as if she were preparing to howl.

“Okay, okay. You don't like that position. We can adjust!” I rushed to oblige, holding her so her head bobbed above my shoulder, one of my hands on her bottom, one hand pressed against her back. She promptly latched onto my cheek and started sucking frantically. I yelped, pulling away, and she reattached herself to my nose.

“Tiffa! Help! She's got my nose!” I laughed, trying to disengage from the little blood sucker. She immediately started to wail, and I turned her around so she was facing outward, her head against my chest. I bounced her a little and walked around the room, talking to her the way Tiffa had.

“Oh look, Melody. There are some baby bunnies! Little grey bunnies the color of Uncle Wilson's eyes.” I stopped myself abruptly. Where had that come from? I moved onto other exciting features of the room. “Oh, boy!” I continued in my syrupy sweet tone. “There's a little chipmunk. He's looking for Melody. He sees you, Melody!”

Melody stopped crying, so I kept going, walking around the room, bouncing her in my arms. “That little chipmunk better watch out! Mr. Owl is watching him, and owls love to gobble up chipmunks!” I bit my lip. Maybe that was scary. I tried again.

“Owls are the only bird that can see the color blue. Did you know that Melody?”

“Really?” Tiffa walked into the bedroom, shaking a bottle briskly in her right hand. “Is that true?”

“Yes. I mean, I think it is. Jimmy, my father, loved birds, and he knew all sorts of random interesting things. I've probably forgotten most of what he told me, but that was a joke between us. I assumed, naively, that because owls were the only birds who could see the color blue that I must be invisible to all other birds.”

Tiffa smiled, “Because you were BLUE.”

“Yeah. I thought it was awesome.”

“Invisibility would come in handy, wouldn't it?” Tiffa handed me the bottle, but I begged off.

“You do it, please! She's hungry, and I don't want to make her cry again. She tried to get milk from my nose.”

Tiffa giggled, took Melody from my arms, and settled into the rocker. Melody began to suckle in earnest. Tiffa and I watched her, our eyes glued to her happy face, her cheeks moving in and out in ecstasy, so content and easy to please.

“Speaking of invisibility,” Tiffa said quietly, not raising her eyes from Melody's face, “I'm a little surprised to see you. Happy – but surprised. What's going on, Blue?”

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