Chapter 5 - Ups and Downs

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Carolyn pried her eyes open and attempted to sit up, only to discover than her muscles were nowhere near up to the task. She blinked several times while looking around the room. Everything seemed much brighter than it had prior to her nap, and her hips felt as if they had been locked in a vice grip for the duration.

"How long was I out?" she asked.

"About an hour," her father said. He held Faith on his shoulder, gently messaging her back in little circles. "How are you feeling honey?"

"It's so hot in here." The moisture dotting her face and neck seemed to confirm this, while her hair hung about her head in damp clumps. "Has he called yet?"

"Not since the last time. I tried his cell a couple of times but no one answered."

"What kind of meeting lasts through the night? You think this is something serious?"

"I'm not sure." Charles checked the digital thermostat on the wall. It read "65."

"I love him Daddy, I really do. He's the most wonderful man I've ever met; kind, considerate, funny, attentive. And I know he's gonna make an excellent father. I just ..."

"What is it?"

She paused to gather her strength.

"It's just that when I envisioned this moment, I kinda had a different picture in my head, you know? I mean, maybe it's corny, but memories mean something to me, and I think I'm just starting to realize that we're not that family. Sure, we'll probably have all the things that other families have, but it won't be the same. I'll always have to explain some absence from some family picture, or some holiday gathering he gets called away from. I guess, I just want all of him. Does that make any sense?"

Charles began gently bouncing the baby. "You want to know what I think?"

"Sure."

"I think that there are a million ways to earn a living in this world, but there are very few noble professions; jobs that require people of integrity and courage; jobs where you're seldom asked to go above and beyond, because the people who work them are the type that already do that. Not many people get a chance to know people like that. You married one, and he's going to help raise your children. If the price is a few non-traditional memories, I'd say you're still coming out ahead. Wouldn't you?"

Carolyn smiled. "I love you Daddy."

"I love you too, Caribou!"

"I don't feel so hot."

"You just had a baby sweetie, you need to rest."

"I'm trying. I can't seem to get comfortable."

Carolyn leaned over and grabbed the Styrofoam cup resting next to her only to discover it was empty. She held it up. "Would you mind, Daddy?" she moaned

Charles laid the baby in the portable crib stationed at the foot of the bed and grabbed her cup. He entered the bathroom and began filing it. "You know," he said, "when you were first born, it took me hours to muster up the courage to hold you." He smiled to himself. "Your mother kept insisting, but I was afraid I was gonna-"

A loud crash emerged from the room followed by the sound of random objects bouncing and rolling on the ground. Faith instantly began wailing.

"Carolyn?"

Charles dropped the cup and bolted back into the room, stumbling as he rounded the corner. He sprang back to his feet and discovered Carolyn lying motionless beside the bed. He came to her and knelt down grabbing her hand. Her skin was so hot it startled him. She seemed to be mumbling something.

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