I bounced Helen on my lap, clean from her bath and looking très chic in nothing but her Disney print, super leak-lock triple elastic fit diapers. Daddy’s princess. Six months old and already ruling the roost. I lifted her to cuddle and kiss but reflexively stopped in mid motion.
My baby’s smile had vanished. Her face turned red, eyes narrowing as a crease wrinkled her forehead. She kicked once. Then, with a low rumble, the diaper inflated like a hot air balloon.
I held her out at arms length, my nose curdling in fear. “Oh… no… you didn’t.”
Spinning her about, I grasped the firm-fit waistband with the tips of trembling fingers. I inched it away from her skin, needing but not wanting to see the damage.
A puff of dried powder escaped, fleeing from the noxious emanation that followed. I cringed and peeked inside. Apart from a foul aroma, the derriere was pretty, pink, and clean.
“Calm before the storm?”
I turned her back toward me and she reached to pull my lip.
“Um, got something brewing in there?”
Helen laughed, but it was mocking, jeering ... the sound of an evil destiny unfolding in a nightmare.
Her face began to redden, bulbous cheeks like apples ripening before me.
An eruption seemed imminent.
My gaze darted about the room. “Look!” I pointed to the floor. “There’s Bunny Floppy Ears!” I stood and stepped toward the toy animal, hoping to interrupt her growing concentration.
Her leg kicked.
“No, no! Take the bunny!” I shoved the stuffed animal into flailing arms. Her eyes rounded and she twisted her fingers into long warn ears. “That’s a good girl!”
My heart pounded as adrenalin flowed through my system. In the presence of mortal danger we fight or flee. Well, I’d fought and won. The corners of my mouth lifted as cooling sweat peppered my brow. “Don’t mess with Daddy. I got it all over you, little girl.”
But I knew Bunny Floppy Ears would only be a five minute diversion. I needed more time. “How ‘bout a bottle? Want something to drink?”
I carried her into the kitchen and sat her on the counter. Along the splashboard, the formation of empty baby food jars taunted. The prior night’s dinner: strained ham, pureed beets, and oatmeal. The morning’s breakfast: Vienna sausage, liquefied spinach … and prunes; the six ounce mega-serving.
My knees went weak as I contemplated the impact such ingredients would have on a clean, powdered diaper once Vesuvius decided to blow. I couldn’t allow that to happen … at least not yet.
I filled a Playtex bottle with apple juice and held it to her lips.
She pushed away, dropping the rabbit and beginning to cry. Her body squirmed.
“No, no!” I lifted her once again and tossed her playfully. “Hang with me, baby!” I placed my hand over the still pure swaddle and squeezed. “We don’t want any action down there. Look at Daddy! Look at Daddy!”
I stumbled with her from the kitchen and rushed to the nursery. Frantic, I twisted the handle on the baby swing. “You like to swing, don’t you? Swing?”
She only scowled and kicked, little tears streaking crimson cheeks. Her expression was fixed. Her intensity resolute.
I gasped and laid her on the carpet. Desperate, I tickled her feet.
No response … her bowels rumbled.
I leaned over her and blew onto her belly, making certain my mustache brushed against delicate skin.
She wrapped little fingers in my hair and pulled.
“Hey!” I stared down at my angel, now clenched and unwavering, dogged and single-minded.
Nothing I could do. I was trapped.
I leaned against the wall, head in my hands and waited for my inevitable destiny.
Mount St. Helen was ready with her vile magma.
Then, a jangling in the living room, the crackle of weather-stripping, the creak of hinges.
I sat up, listening.
Grasping Helen, I stood and sprinted through the door. “And here’s the airplane flying all the way to airport Mommy!” I forced a grin and landed the grunting baby into the landing strip of extended arms.
I kissed my bride. “Everything went great.” I grabbed my keys. “Forgot I needed to get something at the hardware store.” I glanced at my daughter as she began to bear down. “Be back in a few minutes.” I closed the door behind me and hurried to the car.
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