"Um," I said as Heidi continued to cry, her sobs punctuated by an occasional loud sniffle, as well as the fake pounding waves, "can I…do you need some help, or something?"
She drew in a shaky breath, then looked up at me. Her eyes were rimmed with dark circles: there was a pimply red rash on her chin. "No," she said as fresh tears filled her eyes. "I'm okay. It's just…I'm fine."
This seemed highly unlikely, even to my untrained eye. Not that I had time to dispute it, as right then my dad walked in, carrying a tray of coffees and a small brown paper bag. He was in his typical outfit of rumpled khakis and an untucked button-down, his glasses sort of askew on his face. When he taught, he usually added a tie and tweedy sport jacket. His sneakers, though, were a constant, no matter what else he was wearing.
"There she is!" he said when he spotted me, then headed over to give me a hug. As he pulled me close, I looked over his shoulder at Heidi, who was biting her lip, staring out the window at the ocean. "How was the trip?"
"Good," I said slowly as he pulled back and took a coffee out of the carrier, offering it to me. I took it, then watched as he helped himself to one before sticking the last on the table in front of Heidi, who just stared at it like she didn't know what it was.
"Did you meet your sister?"
"Uh, no," I said. "Not yet."
"Oh, well!" He put down the paper bag, then reached over Heidi—who stiffened, not that he seemed to notice—taking the baby from her arms. "Here she is. This is Thisbe."
I looked down at the baby's face, which was so small and delicate it didn't even seem real. Her eyes were shut, and she had tiny, spiky eyelashes. One of her hands was sticking out of her blanket, and the fingers were so little, curled slightly around one another. "She's beautiful," I said, because that is what you say.
"Isn't she?" My dad grinned, bouncing her slightly in his arms, and her eyes slid open. She looked up at us, blinked, and then, just like her mom, suddenly began to cry. "Whoops," he said, jiggling her a bit. Thisbe cried a little louder. "Honey?" my dad said, turning back to Heidi, who was still sitting in the exact same place and position, her arms now limp at her sides. "I think she's hungry."
Heidi swallowed, then turned to him wordlessly. When my father handed Thisbe over, she swiveled back to the windows, almost robotlike as the crying grew louder, then louder still.
"Let's step outside," my dad suggested, grabbing the paper bag off the end table and gesturing for me to follow him as he walked to a pair of sliding glass doors, opening one and leading me outside to the deck. Normally, the view would have left me momentarily speechless—the house was right on the beach, a walkway leading directly to the sand—but instead I found myself looking back at Heidi, only to realize she'd disappeared, leaving her coffee untouched on the table.
"Is she all right?" I asked.
He opened the paper bag, pulling out a muffin and then offering it to me. I shook my head. "She's tired," he said, taking a bite, a few crumbs falling onto his shirt. He brushed them off with one hand, then kept eating. "The baby's up a lot at night, you know, and I'm not much help because I have this sleep condition and have to get my nine hours, or else. I keep trying to get her to get in some help, but she won't do it."