In what seemed like no time at all, unbearable cramps woke February from a deep sleep. “Oh no,” thought February, “The baby’s coming!” She felt so unprepared; after the disastrous way things had ended with Cameron — not to mention the horrific events the last time she’d seen Hector — she had thrown herself into her writing, loosely basing the torrid events of her short life in a novel she called Right, But Wrong. Of course she hadn’t forgotten that she’d soon be a mother…but she was completely unprepared for the reality; she hadn’t even gotten around to buying a crib. Terrified, February drove herself to the hospital, where she gave birth to a baby girl she named March.
March was not an easy baby, especially for an exhausted, emotionally overwrought single mother. Between feedings, diaper changes, and generally comforting her newborn daughter, February could barely find time to shower, eat, or use the bathroom, and she never got a full night’s sleep. Martin Luther helped occasionally…when he remembered that March existed…but was usually busy doing his own thing, especially after Tam finally turned eighteen.
Seeing her little brother with his boyfriend was bittersweet for February; she loved that he was so in love, but she was so lonely. Although, surprisingly, she rarely found herself thinking of Cameron, she still missed Hector terribly. She called him every now and again, using March as an excuse to talk to him, and, although he was always courteous with her, he maintained a polite distance. Gone was the camaraderie they had once shared; furthermore, although he seemed interested in his daughter, he never offered to help care for her. February told herself she didn’t mind; she even felt that she deserved it after what she had done to both Hector and Cameron…still, she wished that he would at least come see her. Finally, she summoned the courage to invite him over; to her surprise, Hector agreed.
February snuggled her infant daughter close as they waited patiently for Hector to arrive. Hector had always been punctual, in the past…of course, that was before all of the misunderstandings that had ruined February and Hector’s friendship. Although Hector had sounded civil enough over the phone, his first visit with March had been scheduled nearly an hour ago, and there was still no sign of him to be found. Always fussy, March had begun to grow restive and February was just about to give up and go back inside when an errant ray of sunlight caught a familiar thatch of brilliantly red hair, heralding Hector’s arrival.
“Hey, you,” February offered Hector a crooked smile as he crossed into her yard, his hands shoved deep in the pockets of his cargo shorts. Hector nodded and returned her smile halfheartedly, but his eyes remained focused on the squirming pink blanket she held.
“Is that her?” he asked. February nearly retorted that no, this was actually a completely different baby that she’d been holding in her yard for three quarters of an hour, but thought better of it.
“Yeah, this is the little screamer. Isn’t she gorgeous?” She pushed back a fold of the blanket so that Hector could better see March’s perfect, round face. “Would you like to hold her?” Hector, who had leaned forward to look at his baby, rolled abruptly back onto his heels, his hands burrowing even deeper into his pockets as if he expected that February would force the baby onto him. “Er…no, that’s quite all right. She looks a little fractious; I’m sure you know how to handle her much better than I.”
“Well, she did get a little…fractious…while we were out waiting on you,” February remarked, trying to keep an edge out of her voice. “She could probably use a bottle; do you want to come in and feed her?” Hector actually backed up slightly at February’s offer, though whether his nervousness was due to entering the house or feeding the baby February couldn’t be sure. “Oh no, no, it’s probably best if I just stay out here…but please, feel free to bring her inside and get her comfortable. I don’t mind remaining out here.”
“Oh…okay,” February answered agreeably, although she couldn’t help wondering why Hector had come all the way out today if he didn’t even want to hold his own baby. She suspected that he still felt uncomfortable around her and planned to leave as soon as she brought March inside; to her surprise, she found him waiting still when she came back out, in spite of the fact that she’d taken her time settling March down. He turned as she approached, gesturing towards the water slide that Martin Luther had recently purchased on a whim. “I don’t remember seeing that around before,” Hector pronounced a bit awkwardly.
“Uh…no, it’s fairly new….you wanna play on it?” February asked, nonplussed when Hector eagerly agreed. The pair spent much of the remainder of the evening slipping merrily along on the rubbery toy, careful to keep their conversation light, until February was finally forced to give in to her mounting exhaustion and call it a night. “I’ll just go get the baby so you can tell her good-bye,” she said, emerging a few minutes later with her refreshed, sweetly cooing daughter. Though Hector still made no move to actually touch March, he seemed content to spend several minutes drinking in the sight of his now serene baby daughter.
“She’s really beautiful,” he breathed reverently. “She’s so…pure, like snow or…or lamb’s wool.”
“Yeah,” February agreed affectionately, surreptitiously eying Hector’s still damp, shirtless torso. “She’s just as pretty as her daddy is handsome.” Hector, picking up on the flirtatious undertones February had unconsciously injected into her remark, recoiled immediately, frowning disapprovingly.
“I should really be going,” he said gruffly, tugging his shirt back on. February nodded silently in resignation, keeping her eyes chastely on March until Hector had clothed himself. He hesitated just a moment before bidding her farewell in a stiff voice and beginning his walk home. A few moments after he’d left, February went inside to get ready for bed, convinced that, no matter how she felt about Hector, whatever shortlived romance there had been between them was over for good.