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Donnelle's World

LJ Idol Week 15 - Chekov's Gun

LJ Idol Week 15 - Chekov's Gun

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Me 2015
Jeremy fumbled his keys out of his pocket with one hand, careful not to spill the chicken salad he was carrying, and unlocked the front door. He hadn't mean to be home quite so late, but the code release hadn't gone well. The day had been so busy that he hadn't even got to eat the lunch that a co-worker had dropped on his desk around 1, when they noticed he hadn't even had a coffee break yet.

Charlotte didn't say a word, just offered him the baby. Jeremy hurriedly dropped the chicken salad on the coffee table, and cradled his daughter close. He gazed down at her murky dark eyes, then placed a reflexive kiss on her wispy hair as he looked at his wife.

"Sorry it's so late," he said. "Things fell apart."

"Well, they nearly did here, too," she snapped. "Ella's only just stopped crying, first time all day."

As if in response, Ella stirred, stretching and grumbling, a promise of trouble that threatened to grow. Jeremy cradled her closer and automatically started the swaying bounce that he'd learned over the last six weeks. She turned her head towards his chest and started mouthing her hand. "I think she's hungry."

"She can't be!" Charlotte said, collapsing exhaustedly onto the couch. "I've been feeding her all damn day! I'm not a bloody cow."

"I know... but look," he said, tilting his daughter so that Charlotte could see her searching mouth. "She looks hungry to me."

"Fine, then. You feed her." Charlotte looked away so he couldn't see the tears forming in her eyes. He knew that tone of voice, though, the tone of tiredness, self-doubt and worry. It had become all too familiar lately.

"You know I would if I could," he said, trying desperately to find a tone of sympathy that wouldn't be interpreted as patronising through the endless fug of exhaustion they were operating in. He worried about Ella, but he worried about Charlotte more. Ella had both of them watching out for her, but Charlotte only had him. He refused to think about who was looking out for him.

Charlotte's voice cracked as she muttered, "I don't think my milk's any good."

Jeremy carefully lowered himself to the couch next to her, protective of the infant in his arms. He pressed his leg gently against Charlotte's. "Look at her, though," he said. "She's growing and beautiful. You're doing great."

Charlotte leaned against him, hiding her face. "I'm not! She's hungry all the time! And I'm so tired. I don't know if I can do it."

Jeremy paused. He'd been determined to be the best father he could possibly be, so when Charlotte had gone through stacks of pregnancy books from the library he'd flicked through them, too. An infographic had suddenly come to mind, of growth spurts and wonder weeks. Wasn't there something about a six week growth spurt? It seemed so much her domain, though, and she was so tired and therefore sensitive that he was reluctant to suggest it.

Ella chose that moment to loudly protest the cessation of movement, and her hand-sucking became even more frantic. Jeremy quickly lumbered to his feet and started swaying again.

"Tell you what. How about you try to give her a bit more of a feed, and then I'll jolly her along while you have a shower."

Charlotte lifted her head. "Are you saying I smell?" Jeremy almost made hasty protestations, until he glimpsed her tiny smile, a glint that he hadn't seen in weeks. He grinned back, and gently gave Ella to her. Charlotte sighed, settled back and did the complex one-handed fiddling inside her shirt that preceded every feed. As she delicately fended Ella's hand out of the way and helped her to latch, she glanced up at Jeremy. "What about dinner?"

"I'll sort it out while you're in the shower." Jeremy went to the kitchen and filled a glass of water, just as Charlotte called to ask for one. He quietly grinned to himself at the thought of how quickly some parts of this turbulent change to their life were becoming routine, and gave her the drink.

Back in the kitchen, he rummaged through cupboards, hoping earnestly to find something attractive and, more importantly, easy to make for dinner. There hadn't been last night, and there wasn't tonight. By the time Ella had finished feeding, and Charlotte handed her to him, en route to the shower, he still had no inspiration. In the end, he toasted some bread, found the least soggy lettuce leaves in the fridge, and put the chicken salad on the table. There was only so much he could do one-handed.

Charlotte re-emerged, her hair wrapped in a towel, and took Ella from him. Her fresh clothes were promptly branded with curdled milk. Her resigned sigh was followed by an accepting snort, which grew into an all-out giggle. She sat at the table, laughing, and Jeremy joined her.

When their laughter stopped, they looked at each other, just breathing and smiling, enjoying the camaraderie and synchronicity that used to come so easily.

"I was thinking," Charlotte said as Jeremy dished out their impromptu dinner, "That maybe it's the six week growth spurt. Mum reckons it only lasts for a day or two."

Jeremy nodded in agreement, and ate a forkful of chicken salad. He promptly spat it out. "Urgh," he said. "It's gone off."
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chekhov's_gun

    "Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off."

    Concrit welcome :)
  • Aww..<3..I kinda liked this glimpse into their life...especially how it had a frustrated start but didn't end up getting blown out of proportion.. thanks for that happy end..:) it did put a smile on my face.
  • "Urgh," he said. "It's gone off." HA! Very nice!!
    • Heh heh, I had that idea and had to write the rest of the story around it. I hope it was interesting even as set-up :P
  • Given the topic this week I was afraid of horrible things for this family, and instead it's a very sweet story about people who are only going to be a little hungry. Nicely done.
  • *Groan* Chicken salad's gone off... that's great!

    Of course, the baby "went off" too when she upchucked on mom!
  • Fun and very real.
  • This is really tightly plotted and wonderful. :D
  • This is very sweet. Aw.
  • This is so delightfully domestic! And it works very well!
  • A tale that could only be written by a mother who has breast fed her baby(s). or the partner of said mother.
    I felt every moment of this story, so well told.

    And, welcome back.
  • What an adorable way to include the prompt! Love this story... so genuine feeling. Very believable, likeable, relatable characters.
  • I feel so for that mother. The pain of it all... :(

    It is amazing what you get used to so quickly, though. And that soothing bounce? Gah, I used to find myself doing that occasionally when i was waiting in line and bored-- and the youngest was probably 8 or 9 by then!
  • /snrk

    Nice use of the prompt, and a definite realistic look into the life of a couple with a newborn. Well done.
  • Such a realistic look at a normal couple's life and how a little understanding goes a long way to save the love between two people. I loved the little details too .... how he was careful not to drop the chicken at the beginning of the story and how the story ended with him eating a forkful of chicken. Well Done :) I loved it.
  • Well done! When I finished, I thought "Yup, the chicken salad" :-D
  • augh growth spurts! and I'm not even a mom, I've just been a baby-carer!

    this was good atmosphere. feels real.
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