Falling for my Neighbor

By: Lila Younger

I open the front door, but instead of another new neighbor, it’s Sarah from yesterday. She’s a plain Jane, but nice enough. I get the feeling that she’s a gossipy type, because in less than half an hour, she’d filled me in on the dirt from everyone on the street. She had brought over a tin of chocolate chip cookies, and I’m ashamed to say that we ate all of it for breakfast this morning. Or at least, I did. Jamie crumbled her cookie up and threw it all over the floor. I also ate pizza for dinner the last few nights in a row, but that’s because I can’t be bothered to unpack the dishes quite yet.

“Macon, have I got a nice surprise for you,” Sarah says, her voice almost overly sweet.

“What is it?”

“I found you a babysitter!”

“That’s fantastic,” I say. “I appreciate that. Has she ever worked with babies though?”

And it really is. Finding a babysitter is on the top of my list of things I have to do. Jamie is particular about her routines, and she’s been crabby the last few days with the move, and she’s easily upset when I’m out of her sight. Her old babysitter was a wonderful old grandmother who’d taken care of her ten grandkids before Jamie, and never minded if my hours managing a hotel ran late or if I had to take an occasional night shift.

“Quite a few,” Sarah says, clapping her hands together. “I’ve known Vanessa since she was little, and she’s very, very responsible. She even babysat my own kids. There’s nobody else I’d trust.”

Vanessa. Vanessa, Vanessa, Vanessa. Why did that name sound so familiar? Sarah answered my question.

“She took tennis lessons from you, do you remember? Although I guess you had so many students they must have all run together.”

I have a vague recollection of large glasses and knobby knees, but that’s about it. She was a quiet one, I remembered that, although she did open up to me after a couple months. Terrible tennis player, but that didn’t stop her from trying her best. I respected that.

“I remember,” I tell her. “Thanks for finding her for me.”

“No problem,” Sarah replies, and gives me Vanessa’s phone number. I put it into my phone right away.

“Thanks,” I say again, when it looks like she wants to hang around. I have a million things to get to, and I don’t want to invite her in. I’m not sure what we would have to talk about anyways.

She looks disappointed, but finally turns around and walks back down my drive. I close the door behind me and immediately send Vanessa a text. Luckily, she responds.

Sure, I can come right now for an interview, she writes to me. I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.

Once that’s taken care of, I head back upstairs, because I can hear Jamie starting to stir. She’s not a big crier, at least, not when she first wakes up. Sometimes she doesn’t even make a sound, playing with her little stuffed sheep that she has in the crib with her.

I walk into Jamie’s room. It’s painted a soft yellow, a bright happy color to match her normally sunny disposition. She climbs to her feet when she sees me, raising her arms so I’d pick her up.

My daughter is the spitting image of me, with light sandy hair and green eyes, and I’m thankful, in more ways than one. Jamie’s mother and I met at a club one night for my buddy’s bachelor party. She was beautiful, sexy, and played hard to get. The man in me wanted her, and when she finally said yes after a few weeks, my male ego roared.

Because it was completely on the spur of the moment, I hadn’t brought a condom along, and Jamie’s mother supplied one. I didn’t think anything of it, but a month later, she tells me she’s pregnant.

I knew what I had to do, so I stepped up and did it. I went with her to every appointment, read all the baby books, scraped up the money for the crib and rocking chair and everything else that comes with a baby.

And then when she said she wanted to get married, I said yes to that too.

My baby daughter, Jamie Sasha Daniels was born at three a.m. in the morning, and the second she was placed in my arms, I made a vow to her that I would be the best father on earth.

But parenting is hard as fuck, let me tell you. It’s not hard in the way it is for a final exam, or running a marathon, or trying to learn a new language. But it was draining. The constant alertness for her crying, her screaming when she’s hungry and wanted her bottle. The constant sleep deprivation, rocking her for hours in the middle of the night, only to have her wake up again in just a few hours. The constant worry about doing the right fucking thing so I don’t irreparably damage her.

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