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Bought with a kiss.

There's a hotel in Russia that has Day of the Week rugs in the elevator. This is for jet lagged foreigners. I assume. I don't exactly know as the furthest I've been is west to California and south to the Bahamas. But that was only for the day when we visited the orphans.

Some are small of body and have bright smiles for visiting Americans. Some are small of heart and have no smiles at all. The caregivers smile less than the caretaker. Hopelessness looms. My arms hold a tiny baby whose name now escapes me. His grin is the only one I can remember. I am scared when he grimaces at his luke warm bath but that was his lot so we pull ourselves up by the bootstraps then sigh relief when it is over. I am rewarded for my courage as his face lights up again inside the thin, dry towel. He was even given clean socks there in the beautiful Bahamas and I delight at his warm toes this day. He watches my face as I fuss with his undershirt. Out of practice.

Would you like to feed him now? Yes, I would.

The bottle feeding was awkward, too. Cooing is our thing and only then do I feel dread over returning him to his crib. I love a baby, it's true, but this one has round, black eyes and there are many beds among his. At the very last minute, I lay him gently in the bed. It is labled with a name tag. His name starts with a J. He doesn't fuss or carry on as my own babies would, protesting. He is solemn for a moment until I explain my joy at having met him. As if on cue, his grin does it's best work yet and the pleasure is all mine. But his eyes won't leave mine and I am forced to look away first. Everyone else has congregated in the other room with funny toddlers and bashful school girls. My ride is leaving.

It's chatty on the way back to our boat. We discuss books and music and charity work. Safely delivered and drowsy from the sunshine, a nap is in order. We all take the stairs.


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