Dick got a text at one in the morning on June 17th from Dan that announced that birth of his and Jana’s newborn baby girl. Dan’s text said that her name was Marigold Esther Thompson and that she weighed eight pounds and ten ounces. It was accompanied by a photo that was truly startling in a semi-conscious state. He sent a follow-up text to say that baby and mother were doing well. Dick sent a congratulations text in return, complete with firework emojis, and went back to sleep.
Seven hours later, he was awoken yet again by his phone, though this time it was ringing. He picked it up begrudgingly.
“Hello?” He answered.
“What are you doing?” Miles asked on the other end.
“What do you mean what am I doing?” Dick returned. “I’m talking to you, dipshit.”
Dick wasn’t much of a morning person.
“No, I mean are you ready?” Miles asked. Dick frowned into his pillow.
“Am I ready for what?” He returned. Miles sighed long-sufferingly into the phone. Dick heard him talk to someone else in the background.
“I told Oscar you wouldn’t be ready,” Miles said, speaking into the phone now. “We’re going to see Dan and Jana in the hospital so we can meet the baby. I sent you, like, twenty texts about it this morning, but you didn’t answer. I just assumed you were too lazy.”
“I was asleep,” Dick retorted. “Because it’s eight o’clock in the morning. It’s a fucking Saturday too.”
“Yeah, well, time waits for no baby,” Miles snorted. Dick very seriously considered hanging up on him or, alternatively, chucking his phone out of his bedroom window so that he would never have to speak to Miles on the phone again. He didn’t for two reasons: phones were expensive and it wouldn’t stop Miles. He would just start showing up unannounced at Dick’s apartment and Dick didn’t want that.
“But seriously, we have to meet their baby this morning because David and Melly are already there and we’ll look bad if we don’t,” Miles explained. “I don’t really care about this, but apparently it’s a thing and Iggy is already on her way so that Melly doesn’t chastise her.”
Dick groaned into his pillow.
“Fine,” he conceded. “I’m up.”
He sat upright and swung his legs over the edge of his bed.
“Good,” Miles replied. “Because we’ve been standing outside your apartment for twenty minutes.”
Dick rolled his eyes and really did hang up this time. He got dressed, brushed his teeth, and then grabbed an apple from his kitchen counter before stepping out into the hallway where Miles and Oscar were waiting together. Oscar was slouched against the wall, looking both bored and annoyed.
“Why didn’t you just wait inside?” Dick asked, rolling his eyes.
“Because Miles was afraid his innocence would be blighted by the miscreants that occupy your apartment,” Oscar answered dryly. Miles glared at him.
“That is not why,” he protested indignantly, but his ears were turning red so Dick saw through his lie.
“That’s exactly why,” Oscar retorted to Miles before turning to Dick. “But actually, we saw some dude leave your apartment as we got here and he was missing a lot of teeth and also had a face tattoo. I am not good in a fight.”
“Not everyone with a face tattoo wants to fight you,” Dick said, but he was secretly a little worried and more than a little alarmed.
The three of them went to the grocery superstore in Dick’s neighbourhood to pick up a gift for Dan, Jana, and little baby Marigold Esther. They got her some bunny-printed onesies in varying shades of pink, bibs that declared her “Mommy’s Best Eater”, two board books on puppies, and a stuffed sloth. Miles had tried to persuade them to get the stuffed bunny instead, because it matched their theme apparently, but Oscar had his heart set on the sloth and there was no deterring him. Miles turned to Dick for support, the reluctant tie-breaker.
“We don’t have a theme,” Dick told Miles, who shook the onesies in Dick’s face as if it was obvious. Dick took the sloth from Oscar’s hands and read the tag attached. “Its name is Bob, though. This is Bob the sloth.”
Then he took the bunny from Miles’ hands and checked the tag on it as well.
“This one is Amelia,” Dick announced. “It’s stupid.”
Dick shoved the bunny back on the shelf and passed the sloth over to Oscar, who held up his hands, and the sloth, in victory. Miles grumbled about it the entire way through the checkout line and on the subway to the hospital as Dick wrapped the present haphazardly, pulling off the price tags and sticking them on Oscar’s forehead. There were a surprising number of people on the subway for so early on a Saturday morning so they had to stand and Dick was finding it quite challenging to wrap a present one-handed. The card was even more of a challenge to write.
When they arrived at the hospital, they went straight to the maternity ward with their gift, the smell of disinfectant burning their nostrils. Iggy, Priscilla, and Melly were outside the room when they got to Dan and Jana’s, looking rather shell-shocked. Dick chalked this up to the fact that childbirth was pretty much one of the most startling and simultaneously impressive and horrifying things that ever happened.
“You guys can go in,” Melly told them, not looking nearly as stunned as Iggy and Priscilla, but still a little glassy-eyed. “David’s just getting coffee for us from the cafeteria. Jana’s mom is in there, but it’s alright.”
Dick wasn’t looking forward to being in the room with Jana’s mother. She was a close-talker.
“Okay,” Miles replied, frowning slightly in Iggy’s direction, but she didn’t respond. He led the way into the room, Oscar and Dick following behind him. The lights were low and Jana was sitting up in bed in a hospital gown. She looked great for a woman who had just given birth. Her mother was standing beside her, fixing her hair, and Dan was waiting excitedly by the door. Baby Marigold was a bundle in Jana’s arms.
“Thanks so much for coming, guys!” Dan greeted them, wrapping them each up into a tight hug. Dick handed over the gift, which Dan brought to Jana so that she could see as he unwrapped it.
“Oh, thank you so much,” Jana said softly, smiling at them all. She ran a hand over Bob the stuffed sloth. “This is the cutest. We’ve gotten so many teddy bears and bunnies, but we don’t have a sloth yet.”
She and Dan laughed softly and Oscar threw Miles a triumphant look, which Miles pointedly ignored.
“Come and meet her,” Dan ordered gently, waving them closer to the bed. The three of them shuffled closer and looked down at Marigold for the first time in person. Miles literally gasped. Dick choked on his own spit. He glanced briefly at Oscar, whose eyes were now twice the size they had been before.
“Oh my,” Dick ended up saying weakly. Dan turned to him, eyes bright with welling tears, and clapped him firmly on the shoulder.
“I know,” he said, sentiment and solidarity overwhelming. “Doesn’t she just take your breath away?”
Dick, Oscar, and Miles all nodded dumbly.
“Do you want to hold her?” Jana asked. Dick had never held a baby in his life. It seemed like a terrible time to start. Everything about Marigold was breakable. Her whole body was a soft spot. She didn’t even have fully-formed kneecaps yet.
“Uh, sure,” Oscar stepped up for the team. His older sister had children. He’d presumably spent a lot of time holding babies. He bent down to scoop up Marigold from Jana’s lap and then Miles and Dick gathered around him to look at her for a bit. She was fast asleep, snoring softly. Miles took a couple photos with his phone, which pleased Dan and Jana immensely. Then Oscar handed her back to Jana.
“We’ll give you guys some time,” he said. “I’m sure there are other people who want to see you.”
Dan hugged them each one more time and then they left the hospital room, ending up just outside with Priscilla, Iggy, Melly, and David, likely looking just as stunned as Iggy and Priscilla had been when they’d first arrived. There was a long silence between the seven of them.
“Well,” Oscar said after a moment, breaking the tension. “She is…nearly indescribable.”
Dick expected Melly or David to take offense, to be the voice of maturity amongst them all. They, after all, already had a daughter of their own and one imminently on the way. Shockingly, however, it was Melly who spoke up next.
“She is, without question, the weirdest-looking baby I have ever seen,” she informed the others. Dick was immensely relieved.
“Does she have back hair?” Iggy asked.
“She barely looks like either of them,” Priscilla added.
“Why would they have named her Marigold Esther?” Dick chimed in. “I mean, maybe they came up with it before she was born, but don’t you think you would change your mind once you saw her for the first time? They haven’t given her a fighting chance here. She can’t even go by her middle name. Esther?”
“It’s Jana’s mother’s middle name,” Melly explained.
“But–” Dick began to protest. Melly held up a hand to stop him.
“I know,” she said somberly. “She looks like a craisin.”
It was the funniest thing Melly had undoubtedly ever said and he couldn’t even enjoy it because he was still so startled.