Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Chapter 2.3: The Nanny's Lullaby
Monday morning arrives, and Faye eagerly packs up her belongings and heads to her new residence, the home of Dr. Ryan Romulus and his daughter Audrey. Dr. Romulus greets her at the door with his usual frown, and after a brief tour of the house he shows her to her room.
"I imagine you find your accommodations satisfactory, Ms. McKinley?" Ryan asks stiffly.
"It's very, um... pink," Faye replies.
"My wife re-decorated some of the bedrooms before we moved in," he explains irritably. "Pink was her favorite color."
"She had good tastes," Faye responds. "I love pink."
Ryan stares at her with cold, hard eyes. "Before you begin unpacking, we need to review the house rules." Faye nods, so he continues. "No guests. No parties. No loud music. I expect dinner when I get home and a clean, tidy house to come home to. I want the baby asleep by 7 o'clock, and I will not tolerate any crying or fussing from her. My laundry needs to be washed, ironed, and starched once a week, and my bed should be made every morning before noon. If the plumbing breaks, fix it immediately. I cannot stand a cluttered, messy, or loud house, Ms. McKinley, and I trust that you will keep the place in tip-top shape."
Faye nods again and tries not to roll her eyes. His list of demands seems unreasonable at best; at worst, they seem impossible.
Nevertheless, Faye is determined to make this work. She does not want to move back in with her mother and father, and she loathes the idea of getting a "real" job. Still, she hopes she can keep her brooding boss happy.
After their conversation, Dr. Romulus leaves for work, and Faye decides to get acquainted with her new charge. She's never in her life held a baby before, but as Audrey rests her sleepy little head against Faye's shoulder, Faye can't help but smile. Perhaps being a nanny won't be so terrible after all, she thinks.
The next morning, Faye wakes up early and cooks a batch of waffles for breakfast, hoping to impress Dr. Romulus and win some early favor.
"They're burnt," Ryan observes as he sits down at the table.
"Yep," Faye answers cheerfully, forcing herself to smile . "Enjoy!"
Dr. Romulus hesitates, not quite sure how to respond, but after a second he picks up his fork and slowly begins to choke down the charred dough.
Five painfully long, awkward minutes later, Faye decides to break the silence.
"Audrey made the cutest little noise yesterday," Faye gushes.
Ryan ignores her so Faye tries again. "I swear she's gotten bigger since I got here! She felt heavier this morning than she did last night."
"Okay. Fine," she says at last, sounding exasperated. "If you don't want to talk about your daughter then what shall we discuss? The weather?!"
Ryan sets his fork down and calmly turns to Faye. "Ms. McKinley," he begins in a tone of forced patience. "This is not social hour at the zoo. This is my home, and you are my employee, and as such I expect you to behave accordingly. If you cannot follow my rules and respect my boundaries, then I shall be forced to dismiss you and find someone who can."
Then he gets up and pushes his chair in, his fancy leather shoes clicking neatly on the polished wood floors as he walks away.
Over the next few days, Faye struggles to adjust to the demands of her new job. She's never had to cook or clean before, and she's definitely never had to unclog a toilet or fix a leaky sink.
Worst of all are the dirty diapers and 3:00 a.m. feedings. Faye never realized how exhausting it was to care for an infant. Sometimes, when Audrey won't stop screaming and the house is a mess and she is tired and lonely and homesick, Faye just wants to give up and quit and go home.
But then Audrey will lay her tiny head against Faye's chest and close her innocent little eyes, falling asleep to the sound of Faye's lullabies. It's at moments like this when Faye wonders how she's ever going to say goodbye to this sweet, helpless baby.
After his stern lecture that first morning, Faye tries her best to minimize contact with Dr. Romulus and eat her meals alone. Whenever they do sit down together, she purposely avoids conversation. After spending her days alone with a fussy baby, these silent nights feel excruciatingly unbearable.
One afternoon while Faye is busy doing her chores, she notices a framed photograph sitting on the dresser in Ryan's bedroom. Although she's seen it several times before, today something about the picture catches her eye. As she moves closer, she realizes that the woman has the same bright purple eyes as Audrey does.
"What are you doing?"
Faye jumps backward, startled by Ryan's presence. "Dr. R-Romulus," she stutters, her heart racing. "I d-didn't see y-you there."
"What are you doing?" he repeats, his voice sharp.
"I- I saw the picture, and I... Is that your wife?" she blurts out at last.
"Get out," he murmurs so softly Faye has trouble hearing him.
When she doesn't move, he steps closer. "I SAID GET OUT!" he yells again.
Frightened, Faye runs out of the room and into her bedroom, slamming the door closed behind her. After a minute, she hears his car pull out of the driveway, and she knows he's gone. She quickly finishes up her day's chores and puts the baby to sleep, spending the rest of the night hiding out in her bedroom. Finally, at about 1 o'clock in the morning, she hears his car in the driveway again.
She doesn't know why, but she suddenly feels the need to speak with him, to give him a piece of her mind. She sneaks out of her bedroom and quietly tiptoes into the living room, preparing herself for a fight. However, as she approaches him, something stops her dead in her tracks. Ryan stands alone in the corner of the dimly lit room, his body crumpled up like an old paper airplane. She hears his heart wrenching sobs and sees his tear-stained face, and instead of anger Faye feels overcome by sympathy for the grieving father.
And so she silently slips away, leaving Ryan alone with his pain.
The next morning Faye wakes up with a new resolve. Dr. Romulus has never taken much of an interest in his daughter, and Faye wants to change that. It's the only way he's ever going to heal, she muses. If he can learn to open up to Audrey, then perhaps he can learn to open up to the rest of the world. To me, she thinks before quickly silencing that thought.
"Dr. Romulus," she begins hesitantly.
He doesn't look up from his book. "Yes, Ms. McKinley?"
"I want to apologize. For yesterday. I shouldn't have been so nosy."
He remains quiet, but Faye can tell that his eyes have stopped moving along with the text.
"I would like to extend an invitation," she continues. "For you to join Audrey and me when she blows out her candles. Her birthday is tomorrow, as I'm sure you are aware, and I know Audrey would love to have you there. We both would."
Ryan clears his throat. "I'm afraid I have back-to-back surgeries scheduled," he tells her.
She nods, trying to stifle the painful disappointment.
Ryan glances up from his book and frowns. "I will see what I can do, Ms. McKinley," he says at last. "I will try."
The day of Audrey's birthday comes and goes, and Ryan never makes it home from the hospital. With no time left to wait, Faye forces a smile and brings Audrey to her cake.
And with only her nanny to cheer her on, Audrey becomes a toddler.
After Melissa's comment on my last last chapter, I am now perpetually hearing Ryan speak with a British accent. Lol, I don't know if you all got that vibe or not, but in my head he talks like Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Not that y'all have to imagine him that way, but in my mind it's stuck now. But, like all the characters in my legacy (so far), he's actually supposed to speak plain old American English. Oh, well. =)