Day One, 8:50am: “I did not sign up for this,” Daniel tells me.
“Yeah, well, I’m not really enthusiastic about it either.”
“Three days,” he groans.
He grimaces at the thing. “How does it work?”
I pick it up gingerly. “Basically, whenever it cries, I tag it on with this bracelet. And then I have to stop it crying.”
“By smashing it against the wall?”
I roll my eyes. “The basic three are changing, feeding and burping. If it doesn’t stop after you try those three, you pick it up and walk it around until she quietens.”
“…so they don’t shit?”
“Nope,” I say cheerfully.
“Still.” Daniel stretches his arms. “It’s gonna be hell.”
“I can handle hell.”
He grins. “Ten dollars says that you’re going to change your mind.”
“I am officially a grandfather!” Papa Willis announced to our friends as I carried Mia into their view.
Their reactions were automatic. They immediately started to try and kill it.
“Go to sleeeeeeeep,” Smith growled, holding his hand over Mia’s face.
“Can I hold it up by it’s leg?” Blondie asked eagerly.
“What time does it start?” MJ questioned.
“It doesn’t turn on till 5:30.”
“…so I’d be allowed to snap it’s neck to the side?”
“They’re going to be awesome godparents,” Daniel said from his corner. “I can wait for you to get pregnant.”
“I swear to fuck…” I growled.
The baby was crying. Again.
“What does it want this time?” Daniel stirred.
I put the ‘bottle’ to the baby’s mouth and the sucking sounds replaced the wailing. “How many times has it been fed?” I murmured.
“I dunno…three? Maybe four. I dunno,” said Daniel. “At least you got it before it started shrieking this time.”
Suddenly, Tig barged in. In his pompous voice, he proclaimed, “The uncle of the child is here to assist the bitchy mother,” already stepping into my room.
“PISS OFF!” I roared at him, causing him to dart away. Daniel started laughing, but he stopped when my mother came storming in afterward. He immediately darted into the ensuite.
She went on to tell me how she had been ‘abused’ by two of our friends, who apparently said that Tig and I were lazy, ungrateful little shits. “And they’re right!” she exclaimed. “When I had you, I didn’t have anyone to help me, your father was off flying everywhere and my parents were in another frigging state!”
“I don’t need your help,” I told her, trying to prevent my voice from becoming aggressive.
“You’re just going to sit there and be lazy the whole weekend!” she told me. “Give me one reason why I shouldn’t throw it out the window.”
“Because I actually care about getting a good mark,” I retorted. Deep down, I was deeply worried about her carrying out that threat. If I kept it in a death grip, she wouldn’t be able to take it, but if she started hitting me…
She just scoffed. “Lucky it’s not a real baby,” she said to me. “Otherwise it’s going to turn into a fucking schizophrenic from the way you’re handling her.”
Daniel’s cry of anger didn’t even echo what I was feeling. GET OUT!” I yelled. There was a pain at the back of my head and everything seemed as if it were fading; I was barely aware of her slamming the door on her way out.
“No!” Daniel caught me as I stumbled, and held me up. “Now is not the time, Cat, wake up!”
“I…can’t…” My sight was going and I was barely holding the baby in my arms. If I dropped it…
Daniel sat me down on my bed. “Focus Cat,” he ordered. “Hold onto something, anything, and focus on it.”
The warmth of unconsciousness was beckoning, but I tried to do as Daniel said, focusing on the robot baby and the bottle in my hands. I managed to pull the baby up so that it’s head didn’t fall back, even though my head throbbed when I did so. “That’s right,” Daniel said reassuringly. “Keep your eyes open, and focus on one thing in the room, whatever keeps you here now.”
Slowly, I managed to lift myself out of the blackness, and I collapsed backwards, exhausted. The baby was still sucking. “Shit,” I hissed. I was crying, but I didn’t care. I was too distracted by all the emotions bubbling around inside me. “Fuck, fuck, fuck!” I growled.
Daniel charged out of the room. “I’ll be back in a moment,” he said quickly, leaving me alone with my thoughts.
As Mia was feeding, and I managed to pour out my anger to Papa Willis (round of applause for him, by the way), I realised that Daniel had stopped me from falling into Delirium. The fact that he could do that was astounding; I’ve never had control over my blackouts.
Soon after, Mia stopped drinking from the bottle and let out a happy coo. “Glad someone’s pleased,” I said, putting her in her pod. I lay back, hoping to get another hour of sleep before she awoke again.
I was dozing off when Daniel came back. “Willis okay here?” he asked.
“Think so. Why?”
“It’s nothing. It can wait till tomorrow.” Daniel dropped down on the bed with a groan. “What have you two been talking about?”
“Just that you’re a good husband,” I replied sleepily.
“Not really. But you’ve been more helpful than anyone else,” I told him before drifting off.
“Okay…” I had just put the baby down for what I confirmed was the fourth time that night, and I sprinted back into bed, huddling under the blankets. “It’s cold!”
“Welcome to parenthood, dear wife,” Daniel replied.
“We are not married.”
“You started it, Cat Madigan.”
“Night night sweetie.”