She watches shadows play on his tiny, chubby cheeks, his eyelashes fluttering slightly as the wind breathes out through the window. His left eye is more closed than his right. It remains open just a bit; a general malfunction, a mild distortion that he would grow out of. For now she has the salt-water drops the doctor had given her, so that she could keep her baby’s eye from drying out — three drops every hour, on the hour, never forget.
His small, pearl-like toes twitch inside his oversized woolly socks as something resembling a yawn flees his pink lips, his brows crunched together as though sensing the pillow floating above his head.
Her hands are sweaty as she grips the sides of the pillow tighter, inching toward the perfect little face.
He opens his eyes, one still slightly closed but the other wide open, inspecting, scanning the weird cloud-like mass hovering right above his nose. He opens his mouth, his tongue wagging helplessly as a minuscule noise seeps into the air, like a wordless plea.
She closes her eyes, turning her head away just in case, lowering her hands. She feels his ears press against her hands through the pillow; his cry too far away for her to sense it within her heart, for this is not her child. No — three drops every hour, on the hour, never forget…
It is not her child.
She presses down harder as tears trickle down her neck. She glances at the feet with the pearly toes scrambling about the air.
She starts lifting the pillow, making sure the little feet are still moving.
“Don’t cry, darling. Don’t cry, Mommy’s here,” she stutters, throwing the pillow aside, cradling him close. She takes the salt-water drops from the bedside table.
“Three drops every hour, on the hour, never forget.”