Nature vs. Nurture
He’s everywhere nowadays. They warned me about this. ‘They’ being the other mothers with children in the building we call home. One day, he’s a bump on a log. The next, he’s crawling and climbing on anything he can find.
He plays on the bed while I change for my shift that starts in an hour. I remain torn between the career that’s defined my life for ten years and the son who stole my heart twelve months ago. The other moms say I should quit; that I need to find a more ‘reasonable’ job. I can’t bring myself to do it though. This job was made for me. It gave me a family I never had. I can’t just leave it; not even for him.
I pull the armor over my head. It finally feels like it used to before he was born. It’s snug but comfortable. When I finish, I judge myself in the mirror. I look good. I finally feel like myself again. Maybe I can do both. Maybe ‘they’ are wrong.
Silence fills the room. I turn and find him eyeing me from the bed. His arms reach out to me and I can’t help but go to him. He touches the armor, running his tiny hands up and down the material that keeps me alive eight hours a day.
He is still petting my armor like a pup when the knock comes at the door. It can only be one of two people. I poke him in the belly and he giggles uncontrollably as I pull myself from the bed. I open the door to Myra, my irreplaceable neighbor who watches him while I’m gone.
“You’re going to be late,” she says. I roll my eyes but hug her all the same.
“Joe’s picking me up. He’s the one who’s late,” I say. Myra walks over and scoops him up off the bed. He smiles wide and my heart pulls at me to stay. Myra looks over and shakes her head.
“Stop it. I don’t care what those other ladies say. You and I both know how much you love this job. It doesn’t mean you love him any less.”
Another knock at the door keeps me from dwelling on the subject any longer. It’s Joe.
“Sorry I’m late,” he says. I hear Myra grunt in the background and I shrug my shoulders.
“I need your help with the rest,” I say, gesturing at my armor. He follows me through the bathroom and into the closet. I open the safe and pull the door wide open. We both stare for a moment. Joe always says I have the best gun cache in the entire city and I never say otherwise. He’s right. We load up, packing away weapons in every place we can. We’re on patrol tonight. There’s a good chance we’ll need them.
“You ready?” Joe asks.
I nod and he leaves the way we came. He’ll be out of the apartment before I make my way out. Joe knows I don’t like him to see us like this. I pick up my helmet and walk back through the bathroom. I glance in the mirror one last time and know I’m doing the right thing. He needs me. But so does my city.
Myra has him on the floor in her lap. She nods toward the door and I see Joe outside waiting on me to make my escape. I point down and he moves away. Turning back to Myra, I sneak up behind him as he tugs on her necklace. I’m hyper aware of the weapons surrounding my entire body as I kneel down and kiss the top of his tiny, soft head. He throws it back and smiles at me, reaching up his arms to grab my nose. Tears brim the rims of my eyes as they do almost every night. On cue, Myra pulls him back to her and I disappear out the door as they fall from my eyes.
the summer series is on at yeah write
Just an FYI, my brain was fried and I asked some friends for a prompt. They simultaneously sent me a picture of (1) a bad-ass gun-toting crazy-armor wearing heroine and (2) a naked baby.
I couldn’t let them down….