Excerpt: 'Along for the Ride'

"Is Heidi coming down?" I asked, sliding his burger onto a plate. "Not sure," he replied, helping himself to an onion ring. Mouth full, he added, "The baby's having a hard night. She probably wants to get her to sleep first." I glanced up the stairs, wondering if it was possible that Thisbe was still crying, as I'd been gone at least an hour. "Maybe I'll, um, just ask her if she wants me to bring it up to her."

"Sure, great," he said, pulling out a chair and sitting down. I stood there for a second, watching as he ate another ring, tugging a nearby newspaper over with his free hand. I'd wanted to have dinner with my dad, sure, but I felt kind of bad about it happening this way.

Thisbe was still crying: I could hear her as soon as I got to the top of the stairs, Heidi's dinner on a plate in one hand. When I got to the pink room, the door was ajar, and inside I could see her sitting in a rocking chair, her eyes closed, moving back and forth, back and forth. I was understandably hesitant to bother her, but she must have smelled the food, because a beat later, she opened her eyes. "I thought you might be hungry," I called out. "Do you—should I bring this to you?"

She blinked at me, then looked down at Thisbe, who was still howling. "You can just put it down," she said, nodding at a nearby white bureau. "I'll get to it in a second."

I walked over, moving aside a stuffed giraffe and a book called Your Baby: The Basics, which was opened to a page with the heading "Fussiness: What Causes It, and What You Can Do." Either she hadn't had time to read it, or that book didn't know jack, I thought as I slid the plate over.

"Thanks," Heidi said. She was still rocking, the motion almost hypnotic, although clearly not to Thisbe, who continued to cry at full volume. "I just…I don't know what I'm doing wrong. She's fed, she's changed, I'm holding her, and it's like…she hates me, or something."

"She's probably just colicky," I said.

"But what does that mean, exactly?" She swallowed, hard, then looked back down at her daughter's face. "It just doesn't make sense, and I'm doing all I can…." She trailed off, her voice getting tight, and I thought of my dad downstairs, eating his onion rings and reading the paper. Why wasn't he up here? I didn't know jack about babies either. Just as I thought this, though, Heidi looked up at me again. "Oh, God, Auden, I'm so sorry." She shook her head. "I'm sure this is the last thing you want to hear about. You're young, you should be out having fun!" She sniffled, reaching up to rub her eyes with one hand. "You know, there's a place called the Tip, just down the road from here. All the girls at my shop hang out there at night. You should go check it out. It has to be better than this, right?"

Agreed, I thought, but it seemed rude to actually say that. "Maybe I will," I said.

She nodded, like we'd made a deal, then looked back at Thisbe. "Thanks for the food," she said. "I really…I appreciate it."

"No problem," I told her. But she was still looking at the baby, her face weary, so I took this as a dismissal and left, shutting the door behind me. Downstairs, my dad was finishing his dinner, perusing the sports section. When I slid into a chair opposite him, he looked up at me and smiled. "So how's she doing? Baby asleep?"

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