I live on the fifth floor. I didn’t realize the elevator had stopped at four. Maybe someone on four got sick of waiting and decided to take the stairs. I’ve done that before, even on five. Anyway, my head was down, and I was thinking about Ron. Why hadn’t he called?
So I walked down the hall and opened my door–only it was 409 instead of 509. I should have shut the door immediately, but when I saw all the dolls set up in make-believe activities, I was mesmerized. I studied them, each one so unique. I didn’t know there were so many kinds. The dolls looked almost like real babies. There was one in a baby swing, and two in a playpen, and there was one lying on the floor–toys were strewn about and a foam wedge was underneath its side for support.
I heard whistling coming from down the hall and quickly hid in the closet. Through the crack I could see her enter. She was older and a little out of shape with wild gray curly hair that needed a style.
“Did you miss mommy?” she asked. “Mommy had to take out the trash, but she’s back now.” She talked in one of those high-pitched pretend voices that drive me insane. “Mommy just needs to get cleaned up and I’ll take you guys outside for a walk.”
Thank God. I needed to get out of there. Ron was probably trying to call. When I thought the coast was clear, I opened up the closet only to hear her coming back down the hall.
“No more crying. Do you hear me?” she screamed.
I closed the door and watched through the slit. She picked up the one on the floor. She shook that baby doll over and over again, yelling that she’d had enough. And then she went back to her syrupy baby-talk and said, “Mommy will be right back, okay.”
I waited for a good five minutes and then opened the closet door. I could hear the shower down the hall and the lady singing “Rock-a-Bye-Baby”. I made a run for the front door and when I looked back, I swear the little guy on the floor had whimpered. I went back, scooped all four dolls under my arms and ran to the stairwell.
When I got back to my apartment, I looked at their permanently stunned faces and said, “Your new mommy will never ever hurt you.”
Ron called later and wanted to go out. I told him I couldn’t. I didn’t tell him it was because I didn’t have a sitter.
Amy Corbin is a special education teacher, mother of three, and wife of one. She lives in St. Catharines, but would like to live in Toronto. She likes strong coffee, red wine, and singing too loudly in her car.