The shrill sound pierced the night air, dragging him, reluctantly, from the kind of thick, black sleep, one could only enjoy after working a double shift. Aidan lingered a moment in twilight, before layered veils of consciousness fell away, and he awoke to find his wife’s arm still draped limply across his chest. Sarah’s breath was deep and even beside him, her body heavy and still, and he wondered, as she slept peacefully on, if perhaps he had dreamed the noise. When seconds passed without the high-pitched assault taxing his tired brain further, he willingly accepted this analysis.
Turning his head, Aidan breathed Sarah’s warm scent deep into his lungs, and was immediately soothed by it, welcoming the return of rest. His eyes closed contentedly…and bounced open again when the pitiful howls recommenced…this time, persisting. He sighed, the most animated and exasperated sigh he could muster, but despite her close proximity to him, Sarah didn’t flinch. It was no use…she hadn’t heard it. The baby was crying, and once again, she had slept right through it.
He rolled from under Sarah’s arm and the blanket of quiet and warmth offered by their bed, trying hard not to be angry. It wasn’t like they hadn’t talked about the baby before she arrived…well, mostly Sarah had talked about the baby. It had been Sarah who really wanted one, but still, they had agreed beforehand that all responsibilities would be shared. They had tried to be sensible about it; planned the baby’s arrival, timed it, been sure they were both ready… But now that Bella was here, there was no getting away from it, Sarah just wasn’t pulling her weight. Apparently, Aidan’s wife wasn’t nearly as maternal as she’d thought!
He scowled resentfully as the tiled kitchen floor chilled his bare feet, but the sound of helpless, hungry, cries emanating from the smallest bedroom, forced him to the fridge to retrieve the milk. He was cold, he realised. He’d been reluctant to leave the warmth of his bed. Perhaps the baby was cold too? On his way to the bedroom, he took a warm blanket from the shelf above the hot water tank in the airing cupboard.
Bella’s big green eyes met his as he pushed open the bedroom door, her howls immediately ceasing at the sight of him, and the sight of her melting his heart.
“Were you lonely?” he whispered, bending over and reaching to stroke the baby’s head as she trilled and cooed contentedly in her bed. “Were you cold?” Putting his fingers to the baby’s neck, just under her chin, he tested her temperature. She felt warm, but another blanket couldn’t hurt. Reaching into her bed, he retrieved the ticking clock Bella liked to sleep with and made sure it was still wrapped and padded, before tucking the extra blanket up around her shoulders. Finally, he poured a little milk into the bowl beside her bed.
Bella stretched her neck out from under her new, warm blanket and lapped at the creamy liquid. Aidan smiled ruefully and massaged the tiny kitten with the flat of his thumb, just behind her left ear.
“There’s no way Sarah and I are ever having kids,” he told her, as Bella pushed her soft head against his hand. “If you’re anything to judge by, I’d be on permanent night-feeding duty!”