“Can’t you shut that little brat up?”
Saturday night, one of the few nights that Sara didn’t have to work, and she was fussing with that God damn crack baby. As far as Chris was concerned, the extra money didn’t make up for the creepy feeling he got every time the baby cried. It was always crying, not with a healthy, lusty cry, but with a mewling, whiney one, like a cat. The damn thing wouldn’t let you hold it; whenever you picked it up, it became squirmy and anxious, like it couldn’t wait to be left alone. Not that Chris had any great desire to hold babies; they were a pain in the ass, always making noise, never giving anyone a moment’s peace. Chris couldn’t understand why Sara put up with it. She never had time for him any more. When they had first met Chris had found her exciting, always smiling and laughing, a real freak in bed. In the months since that baby arrived, she’d started to look old, was always tired, never wanted to have sex. Chris was close to walking out for a pack of cigarettes one night and not coming back. He was tired of Sara’s brat daughter too; ever since that cat had come into the house she was impossible to deal with. So what if he had kicked the damn thing across the room? He hated that cat; the stupid thing was always under foot, sneaking around. Cats were untrustworthy.
Sara walked wearily in from the kitchen. Just once, she thought, I’d like a quiet evening on my night off. Things hadn’t gotten any better with Chris. He still wasn’t helping around the apartment or with the bills; he always had something negative to say about the kids. She had to get back on the day shift. Reggie was too much to handle, and ever since they got that cat, Lizzie was oblivious to anyone else. She carried it everywhere, fussed over it, calling it her baby. The cat put up with it. Sara could tell the animal had a natural dislike for Chris. It seemed to go out of its way to antagonize him.
“You know the baby gets fussy when he’s hungry. I wish you’d be more patient with him.”
Sara didn’t bother to hide the annoyance in her voice.
Chris was on edge. A deal he had orchestrated had fallen through, and the representatives of the other party were unhappy. The last thing he needed was shit from Sara.
“Yea, well, I’m hungry too, when do I get to eat?”
“It’ll be a while. You look like hell; did you get into another fight at the bar again?”
“Watch your tone,” Chris snarled as he raised his arm. Just then the cat jumped off the bookshelf, using Chris’s shoulder to break its fall.
“I’m throwing that God damn cat over the ledge!”
He turned to look for it, and saw Lizzie scoop the cat protectively into her arms.
“You will not”! She yelled definitely, “You leave my Baby alone!”
Chris moved towards the child, who stood her ground. Sara rushed to restrain him.
"Come into the kitchen and I’ll fix you something to eat. Just leave her alone.”
Lizzie stood staring at Chris, the disgust growing in her eyes.
“I hate you; I wish you’d go away from here.”
Her tone was low and even.
Chris made another attempt to get to her but Sara rushed in between them.
“Lizzie, go to your room, NOW!”
Lizzie hugged the cat closer and walked silently to her bedroom. She could hear arguing in the kitchen, and flinched when she heard the sounds of slapping and crying start. She hated Chris for hurting her mom; she hated her mom for letting it happen. Lizzie sat in the middle of her bed, rocking the cat back and forth, singing softy. “Rock a bye baby, on the tree top.” Her singing couldn’t muffle out the fight in the other room.