She stood there motionless staring into nothingness. She had been standing like that for a while now. The light from the window slowly filtered through and fell on her hair. That was the only source of light in the room. She didn't blink, she didn't move, she didn't talk.
"Welcome back to Tit-for-tat", said a voice shreaking out of the television screen from the adjacent room. Ricardo was watching some meaningless television. He did that to take his mind off things. He was in line to be sent off from work and he didn't like that feeling. He had been working in that company ever since he quit high school. He got married to Milana during that summer. She was pregnant at that time. It was a marriage that happened out of the blue, they didn't plan for it. He was wild, she was beautiful. He got drunk and she got pregnant. Ricardo got kicked out of his house when he told his parents about Milana. They didn't want to support a son who quit high school and his pregnant girlfriend. His parents were very orthodox. They had a good reputation in the neighbourhood.
The baby was crying. The shrill noise shook Ricardo out of the couch. He threw the ciggie down on the floor and got up cursing the baby. "A man can't watch some TV peacefully in this house", he barked while he took a big swig from the beer can he clutched in his hands. The baby was crying in the room next to the TV room. The noise from the TV was louder than the baby. He stormed into the room and lifted the baby from the cradle. "Shut up, you little piece of Shit. Shut up!", he screamed at the baby. "Why the hell do you cry all the time? And your mommy that witch never bothers about you". Milana had stopped talking to Ricardo. It had been 5 months since she uttered a single word to him. She never left the house. She was silent. Her world had crashed. She didn't want to exist... In that house... With that mad man.
"I'm pregnant", said Milana in a soft tone. "What?", Ricardo was shocked to hear those words. "But,how? I mean, I did use it!", he swallowed his words. He didn't know how to react. "I don't know, Ricardo. Maybe it had a hole or something. How am I supposed to know? And moreover condoms are not 100% safe all the time",clutching Ricardo's hands and shivering while she said those words. He was breathing hard. He was still in high school and he didn't know what else to do. He had to do something. He took a few deep breaths and got up and hugged Milana. "Don't worry baby, I shall work something out". He had no clue about what he could do.
"I think I should quit high school, then maybe I could check with Jack at the store to see if I could work there or something", Ricardo told her while repeating those words again louder in his mind, so as to reassure himself. She stood there next to him. Looking into those eyes that seemed like it had gotten pale. Lifeless. Afraid.
He carried the baby in his arms and walked around the house to find something for the little one to eat. He opened the fridge and saw an old packet of milk, lying cold. He brought the packet to his nose to check if it had gotten spoilt. He didn't really care much. He poured the stale milk onto a bottle and shoved it to the baby's mouth. "Eat this. Maybe that would shut you up for a while".
This happened everyday when he was at home. He had to babysit while Milana chose to stay locked up in her room. He wondered if she took care of the baby when he was not around. He knew certainly that she wouldn't bother whether the baby cried or not. That arrogant witch, he thought to himself. The phone rang then and he placed the baby on the couch and went to answer the phone. It was Jack from the store. There was some emergency and he wanted Ricardo to come to the store immediately. Something to leave this mad house, Ricardo thought as he stormed out of the house.
The baby began to cry again. This time with a lot more pain. He had thrown the bottle down and the bottle lay there with it's lid open and sour milk dripping from the opening. Milana had heard the door shut and snapped out of her trance like state. She slowly closed the blinds on her window blocking the little light that was seeping in. She took a deep breath and began to move. Slowly.
She lifted the baby into her arms and held her closely. She looked deep into the baby's eyes. Tears were rolling down her cheeks. She gently placed her fingers on the little one's face and wiped her tears. She kissed her soft on her forehead and whispered, "Don't worry my little angel. It's all going to be fine. Mommy's here now".