018 - headlights
The baby had been created in love. In their generation, Richard and Melanie had been an exception to the rule. So many marriages in their time had been arranged. These marriages were more byproducts than anything else, the byproducts of a political system set up to allow families to gather the most advantage for themselves. But this was not the case of Richard and Melanie.
Both orphans, they had built themselves up from nothing. Richard had found a knack for trading and selling tchotchkes at a young age, and quickly amassed a sizable fortune. He went from living on the edge of society, in the gutters and the trash heaps, to an estate that could make even the most privileged green with envy. Melanie was taken in as a servant in the house of an old woman of the philanthropist persuasion. Growing up, she received a decent private education in the household, and upon the mistress' death, was sent to college, earning a doctorate in medicine--a rarity of an accomplishment for a woman at the time, an impossibility for a poor, orphan-born woman.
It seemed like fate that the two met at the general store that day--but then again, everyone says it seemed like fate. Regardless, it was genuine love. Even though each had an endless line of suitors trailing them, they found each other, and after a whirlwind romance, found themselves married. Together and happy.
When Melanie informed Richard that she was pregnant, the news was greeted with nothing but jubilation. They prepared a room for the baby, bought little toys and little tiny shoes, and did all the requisite things for bringing a child into the world. They picked the names--Gregory, if it were to be a boy, and Angelina, if it were to be a girl. And again, it looked like everything was set for them.
And when the time finally came, everything still seemed to be perfect. The baby was delivered, Gregory, a boy, a healthy boy. Nothing seemed wrong at first in their wonderful family, but Melanie never seemed to recover from the ordeal. She seemed to be worsening, and a few days after Gregory had been born, Melanie stopped breathing. Infection, a complication from the birth. There was nothing that could have been done, the doctors said.
Here it was, six months later. Richard just stared at the baby. This was the routine, everyday. He knew that he should hold onto it, that it was the last connection he had to Melanie. Yet he hated it. It had removed her from him. Infanticide never crossed his mind, yet he could never show any love towards the child--it was always just the cause of her death. It was his duty to raise Gregory. But he would never love him.
So what could he do? He pulled out some ink and a quill, and began to doodle on the baby's face. Little Greg had no idea what his father was doing. Richard drew nothing in particular, just random strokes of the pen. He didn't really understand why. But that's all that he could bring himself to do.