She’d spent the last ten hours working, wondering how her baby was faring on without her. Now that the day had ended, she hurried to the daycare as fast as possible.
She picked up her baby and drove home. She undressed him for a bath before starting dinner, as was her habit. What she found under his clothes made her step back in horror.
Alicia was your average single mom living in New York City. Fresh out of college, she’d already found work as an assistant news editor in one of the biggest media houses in the city.
Alicia had everything she could ever want. Her apartment was warm and cozy, her career was shaping up nicely, and she had the best son in Sebastian, her eleven-month-old baby. But all this would seemingly shatter on that fateful day.
Alicia had Sebastian in her last year of college. She and the baby’s dad separated soon after, and even though the months that followed were difficult for Alicia, she did everything to raise Sebastian by herself.
Sebastian was a beautiful baby. He didn’t cry much and made little fuss whenever Alicia let other people hold him. When she found work as an assistant news editor, she knew he would be alright at a daycare.
Alicia’s first day at work had been difficult. She spent hours scouring through stories, editing, and writing where necessary.
But what made it worse was that she was away from her baby. She wished with every muscle in her body that the day would end so she could go to him. But her time at work would lead to something else.
Alicia spent the first six months of her employment in this same loop. She’d leave Sebastian at the daycare in the morning and come pick him up when the day was nearing evening.
This system worked for the most part. But as the seventh month drew by, an issue arose that threatened to add even more misery to an already miserable situation.
Alicia got a call from her manager that she’d be moving up the ranks at her workplace. She’d been working as an assistant news editor for six months now, and there was an opening for a features editor in her department.
Her boss explained the role wasn’t as daunting as it sounded and insisted Alicia would be the perfect fit for it. But there was a caveat.
Although the role was perfect for Alicia, it demanded more time than she currently spent at work. Instead of her eight hours, she would be required to spend upwards of nine hours in the office.
Additionally, the role would have Alicia moving from different parts of the city to interview people or accompanying journalists. Was she interested in the position?
Alicia sat down that night after putting Sebastian to bed. She weighed the pros and cons of the new role, seeing that although it was the right move for her career, it would mean less time with her son.
She called her boss and explained her predicament, to which he informed her she’d be getting an assistant in less than a month who’d make her work far much easier. So, what answer did she give?
Alicia accepted the role there and then, knowing it would serve her and Sebastian well in the future. She was ready for any hard times that the first month would present and couldn’t wait to take on the challenge.
As a ripple effect of spending more hours at work, Alicia switched Sebastian to a new daycare that would serve their needs. She had no idea how big a mistake she’d made.
The new daycare was unlike the last one Alicia took Sebastian to. The nannies were younger, with the number of kids higher than in the other daycare.
Thinking her son would make new friends here, Alicia cleared the bill and placed Sebastian in the care of the nannies. Unknown to her, trouble was already brewing.
Alicia picked up Sebastian in the evening. After bathing him, she prepared dinner, fed him, and they went to sleep. This routine went on for a week before trouble hit.
The evening Alicia picked Sebastian had been like the others throughout the week. She’d been at work for ten hours and was finally home with her son in her arms. But when she undressed him for his bath, she saw what the daycare had done to his body.
Alicia undressed her baby as she always did when they got home. But today, she found more than layers of clothes. One of the nannies had used a green marker pen to write across Sebastian’s stomach.
Alicia didn’t even have time to internalize what she was looking at. Fury boiled within her veins, and she reached for her phone.
“I’m out of diapers, mommy,” read the text across Sebastian’s stomach. Welling with fury, Alicia scrolled through her phonebook to the daycare, ready to give them a piece of her mind.
Why couldn’t they tell her such information while she picked up Sebastian or text it? But as she was about to press the call button, Sebastian cooed as if calling for her. Seeing him lying on the bed, she knew first what she needed to do.
Alicia picked Sebastian up to clean him. She knew some marker pens could result in rashes on sensitive skin and feared her son might be in danger. But as much as she tried, the ink wasn’t coming off.
Alicia didn’t know what to do. She called one of her friends, well-versed in cosmetics, and explained everything. Her friend’s suggestion would leave her speechless.
“Try sunscreen or coconut oil,” Alicia’s friend suggested. After a few minutes of rubbing the latter on Sebastian’s stomach, the writings finally came off.
Alicia spent the rest of the night wondering whether to call the police on the daycare. But by morning, she decided not to. Of course, she moved Sebastian back to his old daycare, where they’d power through the remainder of the month until the media house assigned Alicia her assistant.