Tucked in the buggy, the baby finds his thumb and after a few minutes, his eyes close and his fist hangs in the air, as if he’s hitching a ride. A weak sun pierces the clouds then vanishes. The sea is slate-grey and flat but at the shoreline the waves churn offering percussion to the seagulls that squawk and wheel overhead. I walk along the path and my stomach hangs like a shopping bag, disfigured. With each step the stitches pull. Finding a bench, I catch my breath and the baby stirs. I grip the handlebar and jiggle the buggy’s frame, but he’s awake and already screaming. I count the waves as they turn and when I look back, his face is red and mottled like a skinned rabbit and his eyes bulge. I crawl to my feet and start walking again.
A blue-rinse pensioner watches me through the café window. She smiles and acknowledges me as a new mother. Turning the buggy around, I drift away. By the kiosk, the children’s windmills spin. I remember the ones I stuck into sandcastles when my Dad was the best builder on the beach. The plastic heads hum as they twirl, reminding me of being zipped into my sleeping bag and Dad’s bristly goodnight kisses. I hand over the coins and choose a yellow windmill with black stripes. The baby watches as the blades turn, flapping his arms while his ‘o’ shaped lips blow bubbles.
‘Like the windmill, do you? Nicholas.’
This is my first attempt at writing about postnatal depression. What do you think?