Ebony looked at the sweet innocent child in her arms, her eyes closed, her skin so soft under the tiny pink blanket that enveloped her whole little body. “You forget they are ever this small.” She said to Hannah who was sitting on the sofa next to her, blissfully looking at her baby with a smile on her face. “She is gorgeous,” Hannah replied, “but boy can she yell.” “Yes, I kinda forgot that too.” They laughed a little and Ebony could not help admiring how radiant Hannah was. She was always on the big side and childbirth only made her bigger, she must have been sleep deprived, Ebony herself was a mother of four, she knew how things were with little babies but she seemed so happy and Ebony could not help feeling happy for her too. She and Hannah were not blood relations but she knew Hannah ever since she was a little girl, she always encouraged her oldest daughter to hang out with Hannah more but Cocoa always prefered Hannah’s brothers. Years later she would become Hannah’s step mother for a short period of time, but even after she divorced her father she and Hannah would remain close. In fact, these days she felt closer to Hannah than to her own two daughters. Also Hannah’s mother was dead and she wanted to be there for her, help her with motherhood. She tried the same thing for her daughter Rita who had recently had twins and was falling apart when she brought them home but soon Rita, who always tried to be strong and independent, pushed her away and so here she was, at Hannah’s side.
“I think she looks like Junior.” Hannah exclaimed, still not taking eyes of her daughter. “Do you think so Eb?” “It’s too early to tell.” Ebony told her. “She would certainly be a heartbreaker, no matter which side she takes on.” Hannah was pleased with this answer. They sat in silence for a few minutes just watching the baby sleep. And then Hannah asked: “How are your granddaughters? I’m so glad they and Freddie were born with so little apart, they are going to grow up together.” Ebony nodded. “They are doing well, they are a bit of handful, but Rita assures me she and Tomas have it under control.” Hannah laughed at that as well. “You know if someone told me years back my little brother would be changing diapers… There is no way in hell I would believe that. But it’s happening… Your girls got him good. Junior tries to help as much as he can. ” She added. “But of course he has his work, and the caseload had been bad… But he calls, several times a day, and he bugs me to send him as many pictures of his little princess I could take…” Ebony smiled. She could not help feeling glad for Hannah, she was really glad she had a husband as caring as Junior, that Rita had Tomas and Cocoa, her oldest, had Skip but in a way she mourned not ever having that for herself.
She was young, way too young when she had Cocoa, and well by the time she had her, her father had been in jail. She got as far as she could from that, and from him as she could and he never came looking. When she had Rita… Well Jesse, Rita’s dad came by to the hospital, he brought flowers, and for the first few years of Rita’s life he would come by, play with her a bit and then go away, until one day he stopped coming and calling altogether. Once Harry was born she was a married woman, and Harald was there for her, he picked her up at the hospital, drove her to the home they shared and when Harry got a little bigger would even hold him in his arms. And when the two of them got divorced he asked for shared custody so you could say he cared for his kid… And Hazel’s dad, Jack, he was sweet too… He would come by sometime, but he was old and had seen too much hurt…
The door opened and both her and Hannah looked up. Frederica stayed a sleep in Ebony’s lap. “Oh Ebony, I had no idea you were here…” Blair said still standing on the doorway. Ebony knew Blair, Hannah’s husband’s step mother, for years but it had been months since she last saw her, or spoke to her. This was not odd considering Blair had a top secret job at the intelligence agency and was away from home a lot but what was odd was Blair herself. As long as Ebony knew her Blair was this cheerful, quirky person who you had to love. She was always happy and positive, and even though she seemed childish she was actually one of the rare people in town Ebony could have meaningful and deep conversations with. And then her husband died.
Ebony could only guess that was what made Blair into this stranger, she barely recognized. She was not a person who spent a fortune on clothes, or anything like that, but Ebony had only seen her wear something that wasn’t in a dozen different colors once, on the day she got married. Now she was wearing a lightly gray sweatsuit, and a dark blue T-shirt, her blond hair that was usually tied in pigtails was not tied in a careless ponytail and even her face seemed different, she seemed to have aged decades. She spoke again in that alien, distant voice: “I was just about to go for a run but I’ll call you… We could have coffee sometimes…” Ebony said she would love that, smile on her face, trying to act as everything was ok. Once Blair was out the door Hannah took the baby from her and she got up to the window looking at Blair as she ran off.
Hannah sighed loudly lifting the gaze from the baby. “She had been so strange Ebony.. You could barely recognize Blair in there… When she is not working all she does is exercise. When I ask she will take the baby and look out for her but she is so distant… Always… The only thing she seems to care about is Dougie and that is getting a bit out of hand… He is a grown man he doesn’t need his mother so involved in his life you know.”
They talked about Blair for a while and then the baby woke up and Hannah had to go feed her and Ebony went home. She thought about Hannah, she thought about her own daughters, about Blair… And she felt bad for feeling this way but she was so jealous, even on Blair herself. She thought what kind of love must she have shared with her husband to make her change her entire personality after his death… She never had that she realized… She was never that much in love, in fact now she felt she had not loved any of her children’s fathers and that depressed her more than she could say and now she was a grandmother and life had somehow just flown by. It was too late… For the first time in decades Ebony Brown started crying.