Baby’s First Christmas

Title: Baby’s First Christmas
Rating: PG13
Summary: An infant name Pebbles takes in the sights and sounds of her first Christmas.
Notes: The first version of this story was written sometime in 1998 and revised in 2006.
Warning(s): This story contains child neglect and abuse.
Disclaimer:  This is a work of fiction. Not intended to represent any real persons, places, events, or things. This story is copyright Dawn Kelley and all rights to these characters belong to me.

It was December twenty-fifth nineteen hundred and seventy-five. On the second floor of a house that had been split into an upstairs and downstairs apartment, seven and a half months old, Pebbles awoke to her first Christmas morning.

The reflection of colored lights beamed through her window, making her smile. She did not know why they were there, but she enjoyed looking at them. Red, green, yellow and blue covered each other in a beautiful collage on the opposite wall. She reached for them and watched the colors reflect on her hand. Then she sat up on her mother’s lumpy bed and crawled toward the window. She loved the colorful lights that shined from every house. Seeing them made her feel like warm milk was trickling through her system.

Pebbles cherished the scene outside her window. She wondered what all this white stuff outside could be, where it all came from. For a few moments she watched it hit the window and dissolve into water. Then her eyes wandered back to the white blanket that covered, in her eyes, the world. It was a perfect white sheet again. The footprints of the previous day had been eliminated by the fresh snow of the night before.

A sudden burst of noise made her head jerk away from the window. A Christmas song came from the apartment below her. The laughter of elated children followed. She carefully slid to the end of the bed, gripping it with her small fist as she made her way to the floor. The smell of baking below attracted her to the door. She crawled to the door and sat down. The sweet smell made her feel like she was numbing a piece of fresh bread. Again she heard the gay laughter of children and she wondered what made them laugh so. She took a whiff of the air in her apartment, but all she could smell was her own urine.

Then the door opened. She quickly scampered away from it as her mother came in. Pebbles lifted her hands up toward her mother, hoping to be picked up, but her mom just held her nose and said “Uh, you stink.” Then she grabbed a beer, half tossed the baby on her bed and changed her. After the changing, her mother left the room. Pebbles knew something was wrong. She curled up in a ball and went back to sleep. Her heart was in her throat, she just knew she was missing something.

Mid-day she awoke to the sound of young voices. She crawled to the window. Outside was a winter wonderland. Sometime during her nap the sidewalk had been shoveled and a pair of boys raced shinny new remote control cars. Two young girls showed off their new dolls. A teenage couple exchanged gifts and kisses. And bunches of children threw snowballs, made snow angels, or were engaged in some other type of winter activity. But this outside world didn’t make her feel warm anymore, it made her cold. Why wasn’t she one of them?

Her eyes fell on a couple standing outside. They were coddling an infant dressed in adorable red and white bunting. He was chewing on a brand new teething ring. Her stomach flipped. She looked down at her dirty yellow undershirt. It had probably been white at some point, but now it smelled like urine, alcohol, and smoke, a constant in her environment. The other baby’s clothes were probably like warm blankets surrounding one on a cold night. She wished she were like that other baby being held affectionately by its parents.

Her mother’s snore behind her caused her to jump. She moved closer to the window trying to escape her mother’s smoke filled scent. This time she noticed a little boy out of the corner of her eye. He was beating on a drum. That looked fun. Slowly sliding off the bed, she crawled into the kitchen and rolled a plastic tub out of the corner. Then she beat on it as the boy had done with the drum. For a long time, this is how she amused herself. And she continued to wonder what was so special about this day.

At dinnertime, Pinky, her mother’s ‘friend’, came over. For a moment when he came in the smell of a juicy ham, sweet potatoes, peas, and other foods from the apartment below teased her senses. The wind caused by the closing door quickly eliminated the smell. Pinky asked her mother if she had been fed. Her mother shrugged. He gave Pebbles a bottle, which she sucked at hungrily. This was the first meal she’d had all day. The milk was tart and hardly fresh and the smells of the downstairs apartment were more satisfying to taste, but the milk filled her stomach.

Pinky smiled at her and spoke baby talk. She stared blankly at him studying his yellow teeth. She shrieked a little at his alcoholic breath, but she was use to it so it did not effect her much. He gave her the first and only gift she got that day, a frog. It was a squeak toy probably meant for a dog, but it amused Pebbles for quite awhile. In that time her mother and Pinky disappeared into the bedroom leaving her alone. Pebbles didn’t notice, because she was so engrossed in the toy. She bit into the rubber squeak toy only to discover she didn’t like its rubbery taste. And though she rather enjoyed the smell of new rubber, making it squeak was the fun part.

By sunset, Pebbles gave up on the arrival of that special something that seemed to make everyone else’s day sweet. It didn’t seem like she was going to find out what had happened today. With nothing else to do, she curled up in the soft folds of one of her mother’s sweaters.

Pebbles again thought of the baby in red and white as she drifted toward sleep. Did he know what today was all about? All the laughter she had heard, the wonderful smells, and the lights she had seen still teased her mind. The collage of light appeared again on the wall. She smiled, remembering the warm feeling they had given her that morning. And she took these colors with her into her dreams?

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