While in the South Island, the dad I au-pair for judged it logical to bring his five children under the age of ten to his great-aunt's house.
We entered the house, the four-year-old in tears, the two-year-old screaming, the three-month-old shrieking. The house rambled geriatrics. Great Aunt Maude's immaculate white carpet, walls covered in yesteryear, and ancient baby grand piano paralleled the White House, if the White House housed chronologically advanced elders of a youth-challenged sort. The place echoed silence.
The last time a litter of five offspring spurted through the house, gas cost twenty cents a gallon, Cinderella opened in theaters, and CBS began broadcasting in color.
Great Aunt Maude chronicled her WWII nurse experience, fortified by vein-snaked finger-points to framed black-and-white photos on the wall.
Concurrently, the two-year-old physically assaulted the baby grand piano. Great Aunt Maude verbally persevered through the erupting sounds of ivory keys being finger-raped. Her hearing aids weren't functioning properly.
The four, six, and nine-year-olds concentrated charmingly on her stories. They had been told that, pending good behavior, they wouldn't be left on the side of the road for the homeless man to adopt as money-makers.
As Great Aunt Maude divulged to the adults that a surprising number of the army nurses were dirty whores, the two-year-old elevated piano sheet music books and bombed them onto the floor. When I shuffled through the floral upholstered chairs to retrieve the rogue hellion, my nostrils ignited with a stench resembling hair burning in raw sewage.
I retrieved the fossilized deranged sheet music books from the ground and turned to look at the mom. Our eyes clamped. She pointed at her baby's ass and mouthed changing pad, car to me. Her eyes breathed run.
I rotated back to see the hellion launch a white ceramic picture frame off the top of the piano. I recovered the photo of Great Aunt Maude clasping a certificate in her nurse's uniform, corralled the other seventeen photographs of Great Aunt Maude's life in my arms, and showered them into a corner of the room. I left the two-year-old seated at the piano wailing like a branded calf. I sprinted to the car, the heinous smell still raiding my nose. I had forgotten the keys. I flung myself back up the house steps, in the door, into the sitting room, into the mom's purse, and back outside, down the steps, and to the car. I seized the mat and surged up to the house.
The mom sat, clenching her baby in his armpits at arm's length. Liquid yellow excreta oozed through his onesie in the diaper's outline. I hurled the shit blanket on the floor and she pitched the baby on his back onto the material. She expertly shredded back the onesie at the crotch and detached the front of the diaper. Fluid sunflower-yellow shit cascaded from his submerged diaper onto his legs and shrouded the changing pad in lemon-colored film. Fecal matter slipped towards the pear carpet.
Great Aunt Maude postured in her chair, observing. The mom abundantly apologized. The three older children and dad sat, shrouded in silence. The two-year-old exclaimed from the piano bench, "Ooooh. He did big poos!"