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Seven Hugs

A day to rejoice. A baby is born.
Beautiful icy blue eyes, wide with innocence. Chocolate-colored hair. Soft peaches and cream complexion, skin flawless and smooth. The new life gurgles with glee, a brightly-colored toy rattle clutched in its firm grip.
The eyes follow the movements of the animal mobile hanging above with unusual perspicacity. Pretty. Two gentle hands come down, a kind face appears. The hands raise the baby up and cuddle it.
Warm. Safe. Home.
The voice coos, murmuring a word. A word. A name. The baby’s name. Happiness. The sweet smell of formula, the comforting lull of a heartbeat.
Contentment.

-OOO-

A small girl of five skips happily through her mother’s garden. Roses are her favorite- the pink ones. But she doesn’t like the thorns, they hurt! Ouch. The sky is light, bright, baby blue. The girl crouches down, small hands resting on her knees, and watches the long line of black ants march through the cracks in the sun-baked earth.
In, out. In, out.
Something catches her eye. A bright red ladybug crawls across a mint-green leaf. She counts the spots- one, two, three, four, five. Five spots! She gently cups her hands and slides the bug into them. She wrinkles her pert nose. It tickles!
Mommy, mommy!
She runs to show her mother, who is resting on the porch in a white wicker lawn chair. An affectionate smile and she is pulled into a quick hug before she’s running off again. Her father is watering the tomatoes. In a particularly jocular mood, he shoots his beloved daughter a quick grin, before pointing the spray of the hose towards her. She shrieks in delight, water drops speckling her orange sundress. She makes sure to cup her hands together, protecting the ladybug as she’s giggling off back down the red clay path.
It is a hot day, and the cool water had felt nice. She cavorts around in a circle, spinning until she got dizzy, then raises her blue eyes to the heavens. The same blue as the sky. The clouds are fluffy. They look like her mommy’s mashed potatoes. She giggles again at this thought, before looking down thoughtfully at her cupped hands. She raises her chubby arms up as high as she could, and slowly opens her hands. The ladybug crawls up, up, up to the tippy top of her pointer finger, before spreading its wings and taking flight.
Bye bye, bug! Her dimples are prominent as she smiles.

-OOO-

The first day of school. Her mother bought her a brand new pack of fat washable crayons, bright yellow pencils, a Hello Kitty sharpener, flowery folders, and it was all arranged neatly inside her little orange backpack with the yellow smiley faces. Her lunch was inside too; her mother had packed a cheese sandwich- her favorite. She sits in the back of the car, nervous and jittery with her small hands clasped tightly on her lap. Being fairly new to the whole ‘school’ thing, her mother had to assure her repeatedly. Don’t worry. Be nice. Share. You’ll make lots of new friends.
She hopes so.
Her mother opens the car door for her, tries to help her with her backpack. But no, she wants to do it herself. The ignominy of her mother doing everything for her in front of the other children would be too much to bear. They go across the parking lot; there are lots of mothers and children there. They walk to her new classroom. The walls are brightly painted, the floor tiles are white and…orange. She liked kindergarten already.
Oh! There’s a special little cubby for her backpack, with her name above it. But she wouldn’t know- she can’t read it quite yet. She hangs up her coat; her mother helps her this time. And her mother has to go. Panic clouds her eyes- don’t leave me! Seeing that she was getting distraught, her mother assures her daughter. She’s a big girl now.
Yes. She is. She sets her teeth and nods. She’s pulled into a hug, and for the first time, she’s alone.
She looks around, unsure of what to do. The tall, smiling teacher with the purple high-heels beckons her to a round rug that has different colored shapes all around it. She chooses to sit on an orange square. Soon, a girl sits beside her. She likes this other girl’s corkscrew curls and butterfly clips. The girl stares at her, she stares back. Hi.
Hi. Smiles. She was never one to be taciturn; her mother was right about making new friends. Both liked orange, cats, and candy. It was going to be fun at kindergarten, and indubitable that the two would be best friends. She grins happily, and takes her new friend’s hand. The girl squeezes back just as tightly.

-OOO-

The new baby is so annoying. At eight years old, she had expected to be her parents’ only child now and forever. The only one. Ugh, and the baby smells yucky! Well, she knew she was being unfair. The baby boy had cheeks that she loved to stroke esoterically when she thought no one was watching, and he always laughed when she made her scariest faces at him. She made sure never to evince any feelings of affection…but he got all the attention!
Her father used to do her math with her and patiently go over her spelling words with her. Now all he was doing these days was feeding the baby, and making him a baby swing for the backyard as she watched testily. And all her mother did was talk about the baby, burp him, speak tenderly to him in a way that made her heart ache with longing. Her mother used to only speak to her like that.
And now the baby had to come, and he was spoiling everything!
She scowls as she walks into the nursery; the gamboling hippos and monkeys motif on the wallpaper making her feel just sick. She glares into the crib, and her eye catches the mobile that used to belong to her. She swats the giraffe angrily, and stares at where that baby sleeps soundly, sucking his thumb.
He was so…so…her azure blue eyes softened.
Reaching down, she tucks the blue knitted blanket around him more completely, gazing at his rosy cheeks and listening to the way his exhalations are soft and even. Maybe the baby wasn’t so bad after all. She could teach him how to do things, and maybe he’d grow up to be just like her. She smiles with pride at the thought, and turns to exit the room.
Her mother had watched the entire thing, the door being open a crack. So when the girl opened the door, she was pulled into soft arms, into a loving embrace.

-OOO-

Tests. Exams. It seems as though her SATs are taking over her life.
She gives an exasperated sigh as she bends over her textbook once more, the banal dialogue and meaningless verbiage making her head pound. Her pencil snaps abruptly, for what seemed to be the fiftieth time that day. She throws it down in annoyance, and decides that she needs a break. Way gone are the days of washable crayons and those little scissors with the rounded edges.
The smell of erasers, fresh paper (college-ruled) and coffee permeate her overloaded brain. The smells that are her life, at the moment. She feels so over-caffeinated, it was not even funny. Her best friend ambles over, her corkscrew curls bounce as she speaks.
Want to go for dinner someplace, and take a break from studying?
A heartfelt yes makes its way from her throat, and she pushes back her chair. Her thoughts were barely coherent at the moment, turned to a mush from all the memorizing. They walk to the nearest restaurant, and order a couple of slices of pizza and an order of spicy fries to share. After all, they were on a tight budget. Babysitting didn’t really pull in so much cash, regrettably. They laugh as they choose a place to sit. What colleges are they planning to attend? They share dreams and career choices as they eat, relishing in each other’s company and just living in the now.
The two friends hug, and promise they will always keep in touch no matter what. The teenage girl gazes over her friend’s back, her cobalt eyes clouded with stinging tears, and lives for tomorrow.

-OOO-

Her graduation day. The gown feels swishy and silky against her skin, somewhat calming her frayed nerves. She tries to dissemble her tension, but that only made her heart pound all the more. It was the day she’d waited for. All that studying, all the stress, it had all paid off.
She smiles vaguely at her teachers, but her genuine smiles are for her mother, father, and adorable little smiling brother. His dimples were just like hers, and she could pick him out in the crowd. Her best friend sidles up next to her, and she squeezes her hand excitedly. When her name is called, she strides up to get her diploma. She recognizes her brother’s voice as he shouts her name and whistles with immediate celerity. She grins and waves at him. Her tearful mother and proud father take endless pictures.
She closes her glistening cerulean eyes, and grips the scroll, exhilarated and feeling like she could conquer nations. The ceremony is soon over, and hats are thrown up in the air, littering the floor as friends laugh and cry, embrace and shriek. She stumbles through the celebrating crowd, and searches out her family, hugging each one of them fiercely as if she’d never let them go.

-OOO-

Everything is sparkling, edged in silver and gold.
Bridesmaids in pastel colors giggle excitedly, cheeks flushed and lips shiny with gloss. Her own white dress is sequined and perfect, the long train arranged around her repeatedly as flashes of professional photos are taken. All mundane concerns were unimportant however, and trivial in the face of this special day- her day.
The entire hall is buzzing with murmurs and squeals; her best friend is by her side, curls up in an elegant updo. She walks by to the slow, sweet tune as her heart pounds and her eyes glisten with happy tears. Her mother, previously frenetic during all the preparations, hugs her tightly. Her father does the same, gazing at her face as if he could hardly believe it.
Well, neither could she. She was the daughter they’d lovingly raised; now she was a woman. And they’d have to let her go. She’s leaving them, but in a way, she really isn’t.
Her beautiful sapphire eyes, lined with makeup, are wide, scared, but exuberant. The long procession of words, and then a maelstrom of dancing, singing, and joy fills the room and soars to great heights. Her new husband smiles at her, she smiles back shyly. A new life begins.

-OOO-

She sits by the fireside with her loving husband, resting on the soft couch. The acuity of her hearing had diminished somewhat, but her indigo eyes are tired with age, but still sparkle with the same delight with life that she always possessed. Her children had come by, and they all sat around them as well, talking earnestly and laughing. Their children’s children play with blocks on the rug and giggle amongst themselves as they contentedly lick the lollipops which their grandmother had bought for them. Oh, how she loved to spoil her grandchildren. The same emotions overtake her now.
Warm. Safe.
Home.
She sighs contentedly. Her grandchild toddles over and overtly demands a story. She sits her on her lap, and begins a tale. The girl’s blue innocent eyes are wide with wonder. She can’t stop herself from giving the cute five-year-old a cuddle.
She gives the hugs now.
And they always hug her back.

-OOO-



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