"What is that thing?" Rhonda gasped.
"This?" Sid lifted up his right arm, "or this?" he lifted up his left arm.
"It's a baby. Congrats, we're parents."
"I know what a baby is!" Rhonda snapped.
"He's my nephew, Finn. And all his stuff. It's heavy as shit."
"Why do you have him with you?" Rhonda crossed her arms and cocked her hips.
"Can I at least come inside and explain?" Sid was shivering and he didn't want Finn to wake up.
"Fine," Rhonda stepped aside and let Sid in.
He dumped the diaper bag right where he stood, then put the car seat containing Finn on the floor. Sid rubbed his shoulders attempting to get feeling back in his arms. Rhonda was still glaring at him with her foot tapping.
"So, enlighten me, why do you have a baby with you? I though tonight was going to be fun, your parents are gone, mine are gone, I jacked a little wine out of the cellar, there's a fire going..." Rhonda raised her eyebrows.
"Yeah, yeah, just let me get a word in. Okay. My brother and sister-in-law are on vacation. They just went, woosh, off for the Bahamas. So we're watching Finn. My parents still jet the fuck off for their weekend like they planned, because they said, and I quote, 'We've been planning this vacation for fifteen years! Another kid ain't stoppin' me from taking it!'" Sid explained. "And I told them no, I couldn't watch Finn all by myself because what do I know? I'm a seventeen year old boy, I don't know jack squat about watchin' a baby, boy howdy! But they didn't care, so now I'm stuck watching this thing, and I didn't want to miss out on a weekend alone with you just because I had a kid saddled on me, so please, Rhonda, don't be mad, because I didn't want this thing here with me in the first place!"
"Jesus, take a breath one in a while, will you? Fine, okay, you couldn't call a sitter?" Rhonda asked.
"What part of seventeen year old boy don't you understand? Do I look like I have a babysitter's number in my phone?" Sid said.
"Well, call, uh, Sheena! She'd be good with babies," Rhonda tapped her manicured finger on her cheek.
"Look, even though I'm probably terrible at taking care of babies an' all that, if something happened, how would I explain to my parents that it was because I pawned the baby off when that's what everyone has been doing with him lately?"
"Fine, whatever," Rhonda turned on her heel and strode into the living room.
Sid sighed and looked down at his sleeping nephew. "I resent you for this, kid."
Finn didn't do anything because he was still asleep. Sid picked up the car seat and walked to the living room, sitting on the couch next to Rhonda, who had poured herself a glass of wine. Sid put his arm around her, unsure of how mad she was at him. She just sighed.
"I guess he's kind of cute," Rhonda said while she took a sip of wine.
Sid supposed that Finn was cute as far as babies go: he was fat, usually happy, and had a lot of thick, dark hair. He didn't really understand what women found so appealing about babies though, because they just sat around like fat, little blobs, getting stuffed into expensive doll clothes that they threw up all over. And then they turned into bratty kids that you had to send to school just to get a break from. What was the point of them besides propagating the species?
"And he spends most of his time sleeping," Sid said to Rhonda's neck as he put a hand on her thigh.
"Really?" Rhonda put her glass of wine on the table beside the couch.
Sid nodded, then brought his lips up to meet hers. They went down on the couch. Rhonda smelled really nice, Sid thought as he wound his hands in her hair and brought his hips to hers. Was that a class that they went to? Like when all the girls had to go to gym and watched that video about "becoming women" was there an addendum such as "How to Smell Delicious 101"? And was there some test, that to be considered a woman, they had to know how to smell good? Because Rhonda always smelled good, and it drove Sid mad. She never smelled like those body sprays that had so many fancy fruit and flower names crammed into them you didn't know how they were supposed to smell; no, she smelled like citrus with some sort of crisp floral undertone. It reminded him of clean; it reminded him of fresh fruit, and brisk, pure ocean air.
He had just slid his hands up her shirt — she wasn't wearing a bra! — when he heard a cry. Sid pursed his lips and made a face of annoyance. He looked towards the direction of Finn's car seat and saw that the baby was awake. Sid sighed and Rhonda looked annoyed. She pulled her shirt down while Sid rolled off her and trudged to the car seat.
He picked Finn up and brought him to his chest, letting the baby's little head rest on his should. "What's wrong, buddy? Are you hungry? Do you need a new diaper?" Sid braced himself and did a diaper check, thankfully, it was still dry. "So, what's wrong?"
Finn sniffled a little, but he wasn't crying. He just rested his head on Sid's shoulders and looked at his new surroundings. Rhonda got up and walked over to Sid and his nephew. She ruffled Finn's unruly hair — did Sid have hair this crazy when he was a baby? — and made faces at him.
"Oh, the little baby just wants to ruin our time together," she mocked in a baby voice.
"The lament of all parents," Sid said. "Well, he's slept through the night the whole time he's stayed with us, so maybe you could come over to my house and we could just have some fun there when he's asleep."
"I suppose we'll have to," Rhonda said dramatically, gliding back over to the table and taking up her wine glass.
"I still resent you," Sid muttered in Finn's small ear, but he got a blanket and plopped Finn down on it with some toys, which the baby promptly stuck in his mouth.
Sid and Rhonda sat on the couch together and watched the fat, little thing roll around and burble. The kid was good at entertaining himself, he was happy to play with his toys, he was happy to chew on his foot, he was happy to drool on the blanket. Rhonda kept rubbing Sid's side and nuzzling his neck, but now that Finn was awake... Sid didn't want to scar the kid.
"What if we had a baby?" Rhonda asked suddenly.
"I'd shoot myself," Sid responded.
"You can't be serious!" Rhonda punched him in the arm. "Even if it was a baby like Finn?"
"Well, you know, the whole 'teenage pregnancy' factor would dampen my enthusiasm for a baby too..."
"Let me rephrase then... what if we had a baby when we were ready?"
"Aw, gee, that's kind of hard to think about right now — ow, ow, ow! What was that for? I mean, I suppose if I had to have a baby with someone, I'd rather it be you," Sid said sheepishly, with an accompanying shit-eating grin.
Rhonda just glared at him. Sid turned back and watched Finn roll around on the floor for a few minutes. A few minutes turned into a few hours of keeping Finn occupied and happy. Sid looked at his phone and was surprised to see that it was later than he had thought, around ten at night.
"If you want to spend the night at my house, we probably should get going. The bus that goes close to my house stops service soon, in like thirty minutes," Sid said, picking up Finn and sitting him on the couch.
"All right, I suppose that's the only way we'll end up having any fun," Rhonda waved her hand.
Sid started to try and fit Finn's itty bitty shoes back on his feet, but it was difficult since Finn kept flopping over and kicking his feet. Rhonda just watched him struggle.
"You know you could help pick up," Sid told Rhonda.
"Pick up those drooly, slobbery toys? Ugh, not on your life!" Rhonda said.
"Then you put Finn in his coat and stuff, and I'll pick up the toys," Sid was feeling frustrated with Rhonda.
She didn't understand that he didn't want to be here taking care of Finn. He wasn't father material. The most experience he had taking care of another living thing constituted of a pet frog and fish. And the fish died after two days. He was pretty damn sure that babies were a lot more complicated and important than frogs. He was so nervous, he didn't want to do anything to hurt Finn because of course it wasn't his baby, it was his brothers, and he loved Finn enough to know that the kid wasn't in good hands.
"Your sister-in-law has the most atrocious taste, she lets him go out dressed in this?" Rhonda held Finn out to Sid like she expected him to recoil at the sight of a badly dressed baby.
"Uh, I guess," Sid shrugged. He though the kid looked fine.
"Tomorrow, we are going shopping and buying new clothes for him. If I have to be seen with a baby, it might as well be fashionable," Rhonda declared.
"I don't know if my brother would like that," Sid started to say as he put on his coat, but Rhonda cut him off.
"I don't care. I'm buying the little urchin new clothes."
"Whatever you say," Sid mumbled.
He went to take Finn from Rhonda, so he could put Finn in his car seat, but Rhonda insisted on doing it herself. Sid shrugged and slung the diaper bag over his shoulder. The fire was put out, the wine was hidden in Rhonda's purse, and Finn was bouncing in his car seat, excited to be going somewhere.
It was worse taking the bus with Rhonda because he felt sure that everyone thought they were teenage parents. Finn even looked like their child, with his black hair and big, brown eyes like Rhonda's. Thankfully, Finn had inherited his mother's nose and not his father's. Sid's brother had a nose just like his. So Finn didn't look like either Sid or Rhonda in that respect, but he still looked like he could be their kid.
"Oh, he is a sweetheart," a middle-aged woman said as she walked past them. She sat herself in a seat behind the trio and proceeded to strike up an unwanted conversation with them. "How old is he?"
"Ten months... I think. He's my nephew," Sid made sure to add.
"That's darling! He reminds me of my son when he was little, being such a good-natured baby," she smiled.
"His name's Finn," Rhonda said proudly.
"That's an adorable name," the woman said.
After that, the conversation fizzled out, but it was just as well, because Sid and Rhonda needed to get off the bus to transfer. Finn amused himself by chewing on his mitten and didn't mind being jostled around as they changed buses. Sid was glad that Finn was such an easy-going baby, unlike he had apparently been, according to his mother, who hadn't been letting him hear the end of it for the past few days.
After they made it to Sid's house, Rhonda flopped on the couch and declared herself exhausted from taking care of Finn. Sid decided to ignore her antics. He removed Finn from his car seat and checked the time: late enough for Finn to go to bed.
So Sid brought Finn to his brother's old room (it had been turned into an office for his mom) where Finn's playpen cum crib was. Finn was starting to look sleepy as Sid got him ready for bed. He quickly fell asleep after being put down, leading Sid to breathe a sigh of relief. One day was nearly done, he only had one and a half more to go before his parents came back and he wasn't solely responsible for Finn any longer.
When he came back downstairs, Rhonda was lying on the couch with her arm flung over her eyes. Sid sat on the arm of the couch and put his hands on Rhonda's shoulders. She didn't move, but she did sigh dramatically.
"Well, I think Finn's down for the night. Why don't you break out that bottle of wine and we can go and spend our night how we wanted to?" Sid said, rubbing her shoulders.
"Finally," Rhonda said, slowly sitting up and digging around in her purse. "This is a really good vintage."
Sid brought out two plastic tumblers, expecting Rhonda to protest that it wasn't the proper glass, but she poured out the wine without complaint.
"Your parents won't notice this is missing?"
"My mother hates dry wines... and they have plenty of other bottles like this one. I don't think so," Rhonda took a sip and sighed again.
Sid bent down and kissed her, starting to get tired of her antics and wanting to experience one of the benefits of having a girlfriend. She obliged and soon they found themselves upstairs in Sid's bedroom, doing what they had originally planned to do over the weekend.
When Sid opened his eyes the next day, he felt a distinct lack of Rhonda on the bed. He sat up and looked around. Her clothes were gone but Sid heard sounds downstairs, so he rolled out of bed and pulled on some clothes that were probably clean.
In the kitchen, Sid found Rhonda feeding Finn some breakfast. He smiled and little and watched her for a while. She had really warmed up to Finn, and that surprised him. It only reinforced his belief that women became high-pitched, baby-talking displays of maternalness around babies.
"Mmmm, is that good? Are those yummy pears? Yum yum," Rhonda said, putting another spoonful of what must have been pears in Finn's mouth. Finn grinned and gave Rhonda a view of a mouth full of mashed pears. "Mmm, eat them all up."
"Morning," Sid said.
Rhonda gave a jump but turned and smiled at Sid, "Morning."
Sid got a pot of coffee brewing then sat down at the table with Finn and Rhonda. He yawned and rubbed his eyes, wishing he had Rhonda's apparent energy, because she had already gotten dressed and done her hair and makeup. Finn was dressed too.
"How long have you been up?" Sid yawned again.
"An hour, I guess. Since nine. Finn was up when I checked on him so I figured I might as well get him ready and all that. Once you're ready, we can go shopping," Rhonda spooned some more pears into Finn's mouth.
"I'll be ready after I have a nap. I'm tired," Sid put his head on the table.
Rhonda just gave Sid a look. Who was he kidding? He couldn't get between Rhonda and her shopping. At least he had the sweet elixir of life, coffee. Sid got up and poured the coffee into a Thermos, watching Rhonda finish up feeding Finn. She washed off his face and removed his bib, then smiled and picked him up.
"Might as well be," Sid shrugged. "Let's just stop at a convenience store before we go anywhere."
They did so. Sid bought an energy drink and pack of pop tarts. Shopping with Rhonda was an all day event and Sid needed to have copious amounts of caffeine in him to match the energy and fervour with which Rhonda shopped. Thankfully, he didn't have to do this with her often, because she usually preferred the opinions of her friends to those of Sid, who usually said something along the lines of, "That makes you look hot."
"What size does he wear?" Rhonda asked Sid at the first store they stopped at.
"I dunno, look at the tag in the back of his shirt," Sid suggested, bringing out his ipod.
The store was full of tiny mannequins dressed up in child-sized cable knit sweaters, pleated skirts, and polo shirts. Everything matched. Sid looked down at Finn, who was dressed up in a red sweatshirt and little Levis. That was probably because Rhonda dressed him, Sid thought.
He shrugged and screwed up his face at the piped in kiddie music coming through the speakers. After making sure the volume on his ipod wasn't too loud, Sid put the headphones on Finn and selected a song. Rhonda had figured out Finn's size and was off buzzing around the store, slinging itty bitty chinos and sweater vests over her arm.
"This, this is Black Sabbath, Finn," Sid said. "War Pigs. Do you hear that guitar? Isn't it great?" Finn just looked at Sid with his wide baby eyes. "Ozzy may have made this in the seventies, but you know it's still true today. Let's get to some of their other stuff, you know, every one knows War Pigs and Iron Man. How about Sweet Leaf? Or Electric Funeral? It's all good. Maybe you'd like to listen to some Dio?"
"Sid, what are you doing?" Rhonda came up behind Sid.
"I'm educating him in good music," Sid said. "My brother listens to Kid Cudi and my sister-in-law listens to Lady GaGa. Where else is he going to get it?"
"Um, whatever. He's too young to appreciate music. He probably likes... y'know, Barney music."
"No, he likes it, see!" Sid gestured to Finn, who was smiling. "He likes power metal. Maybe I should show you some Manowar! Judas Priest too."
"If we have children, you are not making them listen to metal," Rhonda crossed her arms, shopping bags swinging. "We're going to educate them with Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven..."
"Led Zeppelin, Cream, Witchcraft, The Sword..."
"Why are we even arguing about this? We don't have kids yet," Rhonda shook her head. "See? Finn's affecting me already. Soon, I'll be wearing mom jeans! That would be terrible! Mom jeans!"
"I think you're overreacting, I mean, you're not even related to him," Sid said.
"You're right... I need some air. Let's go to another store," Rhonda suggested.
Sid sighed but picked up Finn's car seat and followed Rhonda outside once she had made her purchases. She seemed to know where she was going, so he only followed behind her. It was threatening to snow, and the air was chilled. Most people on the pavement had turned up their collars against the wind. Sid downed the rest of his coffee and thanked the man who discovered it, because it was the only reason he wasn't keeled over, dead asleep, right now.
"Would you still love me if I wore mom jeans?" Rhonda asked suddenly.
"Huh? What are those even?" Sid was still tired of Rhonda's pretentious antics.
"They're a terribly unfashionable jean to wear! Okay, so I don't wear denim that often, but still, you would love me if I was unfashionable, right?"
"I don't think I've said those words yet," Sid said under his breath, not expecting Rhonda to hear.
"So you don't love me," Rhonda stopped right in the middle of the pavement, eliciting a few angry mutters from people who had to go around her.
"I never said that, okay?" Sid said.
"You don't love me!"
"Rhonda! Those are some big words to say, I mean, I really like you..." Sid wasn't sure what to say to calm her down.
He was pretty sure he did love her in some way, but he couldn't bring himself to say those words yet. He really wanted to be absolutely sure before he started throwing them around. Sure, Rhonda was really great and he really liked her, but saying "I love you," was a commitment he wasn't ready for! They hadn't been dating that long.
Actually, he hadn't really expected their whole relationship to turn into anything. It started out as a hook-up on the down low, a friends with benefits sort of thing. Then Rhonda had broken up with her boyfriend, and Sid broke up with his girlfriend because Rhonda had told him that if he was single, she'd date him. So he became single. And now here it was, about ready to fall apart.
"Well, I... I love you, you stupid fucker!" Rhonda's voice rose to a level that made people stare.
"Rhonda, calm down,I never said I didn't! You're not letting me say anything," Sid shouted, matching her loudness.
"She said you had commitment issues! Goddammit, why was I so stupid?" Rhonda grabbed her hair and started pacing.
"I don't have those! Those words mean a lot and you should know I don't say them for nothing!"
"I should think words mean less than sex!" Rhonda shot back.
"We were doing that a long time before we got together!" Sid yelled. "So that doesn't even matter! You act like you never had me all figured out before we got together, but you knew what I was all about before that! You should know what to expect from me!"
"Yeah, and I would expect, if you broke up with your girlfriend of two and a half years for me, that you think I'm better for you than her! That you love me more than her!"
"That doesn't have to do anything with love! I never loved her," Sid wished she would stop shouting, but here she was, poking every sore spot he had.
"And you never loved me!" Rhonda looked the worse he had ever seen her, with her face all crumpled up like she was trying not to cry.
"You are putting words in my mouth —" Sid stopped what he was saying when he noticed crying.
Finn was crying. Sid sighed and expected that with all the shouting, he probably got worked up, so Sid picked him up only to find that his diaper had leaked everywhere. Rhonda made a face like she was disgusted, but she came over and felt Finn's forehead.
"He feels hot," she said, anger momentarily forgotten.
"Maybe we should take him home... call my mom," Sid suggested quietly.
Rhonda nodded, then snapped, "Don't think this makes me any less angry at you. I'm just concerned for Finn."
"Right... well, let's at least change him. I'll change him if you go and wash out that car seat cover," Sid said.
Rhonda seemed to weigh changing Finn versus washing out the car seat cover in her head. Sid just waited for her to respond. Finn wouldn't stop crying, even as Sid tried to soothe him.
"Okay, I'll change the shitty car seat cover," Rhonda picked up the car seat.
They headed into the nearest place with a restroom, a coffee shop. Sid hope there wasn't anyone else in there, because he felt awkward taking Finn into the restroom. He shouldn't through, Finn needed to be changed.
After several minutes, Finn was in clean clothes and a diaper. He still threatened tears and he still felt hot. Sid met Rhonda out in the main area of the shop. The car seat pad was still damp, so Sid said he'd just hold Finn as they went home.
The bus ride home was silent and smouldering. Rhonda still looked angry at Sid, but she kept throwing worried glances at Finn, who was fussy and would burst into tears at the slightest disturbance. The people on the bus were probably glad when they got off, Sid figured.
He unlocked the door to his house and went inside with Rhonda. Finn started to cry again as soon as they got in the door.
"I'll go look for a thermometer and then call my mom," Sid said, giving Finn to Rhonda.
Rhonda looked thrilled at being handed a crying baby, but Sid didn't care. He quickly left the living room and ran upstairs to his parent's bathroom, rooting around in their medicine cabinet. No thermometer. Sid made a face then checked the drawers, but still he came up empty handed. He headed over to his room and checked all places a thermometer would logically be, but he still couldn't find one.
Sid went downstairs to check the kitchen junk drawer, as a last ditch effort, but no miracle was happening today. He went into the living room where Rhonda was struggling to soothe a bawling Finn.
"I couldn't find a thermometer, I'll have to go out and buy one," Sid told her.
"Well, hurry, I'm going crazy listening to this thing scream," Rhonda muttered, bouncing Finn gently on her knee.
Sid just nodded and threw on his coat, making sure he had his wallet. He took a brisk walk to the nearest pharmacy. Once there, he bought a thermometer and Children's Tylenol, just in case Finn did have a fever and they had to bring it down. Then he hurried back home because he figured Rhonda had probably about had it with Finn.
She looked relieved when he came in the door, holding the thermometer like a torch. Sid took it out of its packaging and took a seat next to Rhonda.
"I think we have to um... take his temperature rectally," Sid said, looking over the instructions on the packaging.
"You can do that," Rhonda plopped the still crying Finn on Sid's lap.
"Well, could you at least hold him still?" Sid put Finn back on Rhonda's lap.
"Fine," Rhonda looked disgusted, but somehow, between the two of them, they managed to get Finn's temperature. He wasn't very cooperative and not very pleased at getting his temperature taken.
"A hundred and two point six," Sid read off as Rhonda tried to calm Finn down.
"God," Rhonda muttered.
Sid brought out his cellphone and dialled his mom's number. The phone rang for a long while before going to voicemail. Sid tried calling her several times, but each time it went to voicemail. His father's phone just went straight to voicemail, meaning his phone was shut off. Sid cursed like a sailor.
"Neither of my parents will pick up. I'll try calling my sister in law."
But neither his brother or sister in law would pick up their phones. Rhonda said that even if she called her parents, they wouldn't pick up either, because of the time difference, and that they were probably asleep right now. Sid sighed and left a voice message on his brother's phone saying that Finn was sick with a fever and diarrhoea.
"Well, let's give him some Tylenol and see if that brings it down, but if it doesn't, maybe we should take him to the emergency room," Sid said, running a hand through his hair.
"Great, what a weekend this is," Rhonda was looking frazzled, something strange for her, since she was usually impeccably put together.
"Yeah, absolute blast," Sid brought out the Tylenol and poured out the right dosage for Finn. It was a battle to get him to take it, but eventually, they got him to swallow most of the medicine. Now they were sitting around, waiting for it to take effect.
Finn had exhausted himself crying, but he was still cranky and listless. After an hour, they took his temperature again and found that it was still the same as it was before. Sid shared a look with Rhonda and they wondered what to do. Should they try to break the fever themselves or take him to the emergency room? They had been trying to give him fluids, since he had diarrhoea as well, but he refused to drink or eat.
"Maybe we should wait until later tonight, and if he's not better, we'll take him to the ER," Sid said, looking at Finn, who was lying in Rhonda's arms and dozing fitfully.
"Your brother should pay you," Rhonda shook her head.
"Yeah, or at least stop calling me dick-face," Sid took Finn from Rhonda and went upstairs to put him to bed.
When he came back downstairs, Rhonda was putting on her coat. Sid's heart sank. He didn't want her to leave. Even if she wasn't much help with Finn, Sid didn't feel like he could take care of a sick baby alone.
"Where are you going?" Sid asked her.
"Home," she answered, wrapping a scarf around her neck.
"Because I'm still mad at you," she pulled on some gloves.
"Look, you know I'm terrible with words, but just listen to me. We're still teenagers, what's so important about love that it has to happen this very moment? You're the only girl I want to fuck, or kiss, or hold or buy flowers. You're the only girl I can see myself with next week, next month, next year, in five years, even. Isn't that good enough? Why do you want me to say, "I love you," so soon? Shouldn't it happen because I honestly, truly mean it, not because it's just something you want to hear? It's not going to mean much if I don't know absolutely that what I say is true." Sid said. Rhonda just stared at him, so Sid kept talking. "And shouldn't my actions say more than my words? You completely blew my reaction out of the water, all I said was that I hadn't told you I loved you yet. Yet. I gave up Shannon for you, shouldn't that show you that I want you? I've gone to
Goddamn fashion shows for you and let you dress me up like some sort of Ken doll. I've been your date to silly parties and even let you give me that ridiculous makeover. If that doesn't show you that I really care about you and want you happy, then I don't know what."
"Sid, I," Rhonda started.
"You a lot of things. If you're not going to let me do things on my own time, then I think we should just be done."
"Okay, fine, I overreacted. I'm sorry. You know you're the only guy who could make me apologize for being myself," Rhonda crossed her arms.
"That's a good thing, right?" Sid laughed a little, feeling slightly relieved that their fight was starting to get resolved.
"I don't know," Rhonda started to take off her coat, but Sid didn't want to wait that long.
He took her in his arms and kissed her passionately. Maybe he did or didn't love her, but at least he knew that right now, she was the only one for him. She was the only one that made him feel like he could climb a mountain, run a marathon, and swim across the English Channel. She was the only one that made him feel like he could be with her and only her and be happy.
They only broke apart when they heard a cry coming from upstairs.
"Damn kid, always ruining things for us," Rhonda smirked a little.
"Yeah, I'll go check on him," Sid said.
Finn was still a sick baby. Sid took his temperature again (it was still the same) and changed him. Finn refused his bottle again, so Sid dressed him in a dirty onesie that he figured no one would care if it got ruined. Rhonda looked up when Sid came downstairs. Sid gave her a plain look.
"I think we should take him to the ER, he won't drink and he keeps getting sick, so he's got to be really dehydrated," Sid explained, going to grab his coat.
Rhonda sighed but put on her coat and gloves and scarf all over again. She held Finn at arm's length while Sid got his coat and gloves on. They got Finn in his car seat and threw a blanket over it so he'd stay warm, then they were off to catch a bus to the hospital.
It wasn't very crowded, but Sid had a hard time explaining to the triage nurse what was going on.
"He's got a fever of like, a hundred and two that won't go down even with Tylenol, and he keeps throwing up and having diarrhoea, and he won't drink or eat anything," Sid said while Rhonda gently bounced Finn, who was crying again.
"Are you the parents?" the nurse asked.
"No, he's my nephew, my family's watching him, but my parents are out for the weekend, and I mean, he was fine yesterday, this just came on all of the sudden and I don't have his insurance card or anything, because of course my brother didn't think that anything would happen while they were away. I've been trying to reach him but he won't answer his phone, I could get the insurance information if he would just pick up his phone."
"Just calm down sir, we'll see your nephew and you keep trying to reach your brother or parents. Fill this out while you wait," the nurse handed him a pen with a tacky fake flower taped to it and a clipboard full of papers.
Sid sighed and went to sit down on one of the chairs scattered around the ER. He filled out the forms on the clipboard the best he could while trying to reach his brother or sister in law. They had to wait a while, watching people tearfully nursing legs or arms and one man with a bloody towel wrapped around his hand go first. But finally, Finn's name was called.
Sid and Rhonda got up and were led to a room where a nurse looked over Finn, taking his temperature and blood pressure and other standard things. She got an overview of his symptoms from Sid, which she wrote down on her clipboard before assuring them that the doctor would see them soon. Sid continued to attempt to soothe Finn who was fussy and sick and generally unhappy.
After about fifteen minutes, an elderly man stopped by.
"Is this Finn?" he asked, approaching the bed that Finn was sitting on and looking at the child. "I'm Dr Ryans."
"Yeah, that's him," Sid answered.
Rhonda just watched them, her eyes exhausted.
"So, he has a fever, vomiting and diarrhoea?" the doctor peered into Finn's ears, eyes, nose, and throat.
"Yeah, he seemed all right this morning, but maybe about one, we noticed he was running a fever. We gave him Tylenol about... four but it hasn't helped his fever any," Sid rattled off for the doctor. "He won't eat or drink anything."
"How many times has he been sick?" Dr Ryans asked.
"I dunno, too many times to count. We've had to change him a lot too," Sid sighed. This was too much for him to handle. All he wanted was a nice weekend with his girlfriend, and now here he was, with a sick baby.
"He's definitely dehydrated. We'll get him some fluids and do some other test to rule out anything serious. It probably is just a virus, but with young children, we don't like to take chances."
Sid nodded. About five minutes after the doctor left, Sid's phone rang. Caller ID showed it was his brother. Sid picked up right away.
"What's so important?" he asked, sounding irritated.
"Your kid's sick," Sid said.
"Oh, Jesus, what's wrong?" Suddenly he didn't sound so irritated any more.
"He's running a fever, barfing, shitting. I've got my girlfriend with me and she's not happy about it, but we took him to the ER because his fever wasn't going down even with Tylenol. They're going to do some tests or something to make sure it's not serious."
His brother let out a big sigh; Sid imagined him running a hand through his hair. "Mom and Dad will be home tomorrow, so... you haven't gotten a hold of them?"
"No, they wouldn't pick up and haven't called me back, who knows what they're doing."
"Well, Lina and I will be home Wednesday... thanks for taking the squirt to the hospital," his brother said.
"Yeah, wouldn't want anything to be wrong with him and I didn't do anything about it," Sid shrugged.
Sid talked with his brother a little while longer, getting some necessary information before hanging up. His brother parted with a word of thanks for Sid. Sid looked back at Rhonda, who was absent-mindedly rubbing Finn's back, not even really trying to calm him down, because there was no calming him down.
A nurse came by with a cup that held some rehydration fluid. She explained that they would see if he was willing to drink it, and if he wasn't, they would probably have to administer them via IV. Sid really hoped that Finn would drink, because he didn't want to see his little nephew all poked up with an IV.
Finn, however refused the cup, even after prodding from multiple nurses, Sid, Rhonda, and even the janitor who was claimed to be a genius with kids. Nothing they could do would make him drink. Sid thought of the saying, "You could lead a horse to water..."
Finally, the nurses gave up and prepared an IV. Finn did not like that at all, so they gave him a mild sedative to calm him down. That greatly speeded up the process, and soon an IV was restoring precious fluids to poor Finn. Afterwards they did several tests on him and ruled out anything serious. It was probably just the flu. They gave Sid instructions like keep giving him Tylenol to help bring down his fever if needed, and make sure he gets plenty of rest and fluids.
They left the ER late at night, and had to mostly walk back to Sid's house, because the bus line that stopped a few blocks from his house had stopped running. Finn was still feeling the effects of the sedative so he was fairly calm coming back home. He went right to sleep once the put him down.
Sid flopped back on to the couch and closed his eyes. He was exhausted. Rhoda sat down heavily next to him and laid her head on his shoulder. She let out a sigh. Sid wrapped his arm around her and pulled her closer, enjoying the feeling of her next to him.
"This is exhausting," she said softly.
"I have a greater respect for my brother now," Sid laughed ruefully. "At least my parents will be home tomorrow. Will you stay here tonight with me?" His voice sounded almost pleading.
Rhonda nodded slowly, her faded eyeliner rimmed eyes shut. Sid kissed the top of her head and enjoyed the quiet moment they had after the tumult of the day and yesterday.
It didn't last long though. They tag-teamed the night, tending to Finn. One attempted to catch a few moments of precious sleep while the other saw what Finn needed, be it a diaper change or clothing change or giving him a bottle full of Pedialyte.
The next morning, Finn was still running a fever, but it was lower than what it had been yesterday. He wasn't as fussy either, but he still was not a happy baby. Rhonda nearly cried with relief when his parent's Cutlass pulled in the driveway. His father took one look at them both with their unkempt appearance and tired eyes and sighed.
While they were unloading the trunk, Sid explained to them how Finn had gotten sick and that they had taken him to the ER and stayed up all night with him. His father's expression turned from one of disappointment to of perhaps pride. While his mother took care of Finn, Sid and Rhonda sat down at the kitchen table and had a cup of coffee.
"Well, I was a bit worried, leaving you here to watch Finn, but now I know that I can trust you, Sid. You did a good job," his father said.
"Thanks," Sid was more just glad that he had a cup of coffee in front of him.
"And I know that I won't have to worry about you getting your girlfriend pregnant," his father said, right before taking a sip of coffee.
"I'm getting on birth control to-fucking-day," Rhonda said under her breath, so only Sid could hear.
"Good," Sid returned, under his breath as well.
After they had finished their coffee, Sid and Rhonda stepped outside the house, so they could say goodbye in private. A goodbye that entailed a lot of kissing. Once the broke apart, Sid kissed Rhonda's forehead.
"I don't know how to thank you for staying with me this weekend. I don't know how I could have done it alone," Sid said.
"You're going shopping with me after school all this week and I get to take you to get your hair cut. It's getting so long, you look like a woman, Sid," Rhonda rolled her eyes.
"Gee, thanks," Sid laughed a short laugh.
"Just let me say goodbye to Finn before he goes home," Rhonda said.
"I thought you didn't like the little urchin," Sid teased.
"Well, he's grown on me, so shut up," Rhonda said defensively.
"Whatever you say," Sid kissed her again for goodbye.
"Why does my son suddenly have a brand new wardrobe?"
"My girlfriend got to him," Sid answered his brother.
"I see she got to you too," his brother ruffled Sid's hair, "you look like a man again."
"Jesus, get off, Jeffrey!" Sid swatted his brother's hand away.
"Whatever, thanks for taking care of him, you fucker," Jeffrey lightly punched Sid's arm. "And thank you for keeping this loser in line," he said to Rhonda, who was holding Finn and making baby talk.
"It's not an easy job," Rhonda smirked. "I think the baby's better than him."
"Everybody hates me!" Sid said dramatically.
Afterwards, there were several long goodbyes until Jeffrey, his wife, and Finn finally were able to get out of the driveway. Sid had his arm around Rhonda and once his parents had gone back inside, she said something that surprised him.
"I think we could do having kids."
"Maybe, but not for a long while."
Silly little thing to occupy my time. If you come across a section with lots of mistakes, I was really hungover.
Anyways, hope it wasn't too long or boring. Hope the details weren't too off either, I'm not a kids person myself. I enjoy them when I get to see them in hour increments while the parents are still there and you only see the cute, adorable half and not the screaming meltdown half.
Toodles guys, I'm going to a hookah bar tonight!