This is a Love Note.

Playground

A crying baby helps her uncle attract the attention of a cute hipster during a visit to their neighborhood playground.

Tropes – Strangers to Lovers, Meet Cute

“What kind of irresponsible person would leave their baby alone with me? My sister, that’s who.”

 

He’s cradling the baby in his arms, swinging her side to side. Trying to look less like a baby snatcher and more like an upright citizen who pays his taxes and definitely isn’t a registered sex offender. Which he isn’t but you wouldn’t know it by the suspicious looks the overprotective playground moms were giving him.

 

“Uncle Roger! Uncle Roger! Look, it’s a ladybug!” Ava ran up to him with her hands cupped, her pink tutu fluttering in the wind. The tutu didn’t match her blue Frozen-themed sweater or her bright yellow galoshes. Her mom let her pick her outfit today and that’s what she went with.

 

Ava slowly opened her hands. A bright red ladybug with black spots was sitting in the palm of her left hand. 

 

“That’s nice, kid. Be careful, don’t crush her.”

 

Ava recapped her hands and pulled away like he tried to steal her Precious. “I won’t! She’s my friend.” She looked around the bench, over and under, “Where’s Mommy?”

 

He rearranged the baby in his lap. She was getting fussy. “She went to the bathroom. She’ll be back soon.”

 

“Hey Ava!,” yelled a boy hanging upside down from the monkey bars, “Wanna play tag!?”

 

“Yes!”

 

The boy jumped from the bars and ran off. Ava chased after him, still cupping her hands.

 

“Hey! Careful!” He tried but she was already long gone. 

 

Oh well, new problem: Baby Claire was not a happy camper. As soon as her older sister disappeared, she started bawling her eyes out. 

 

He stood up and started bouncing Claire around. With his sister nowhere in sight, he tried pointing out colorful things, giving her snacks, her bottle, her binky. No dice.

 

Just when he was about to turn and run in the direction of the restrooms, a petite woman appeared. Her dove grey eyes peered up at him behind huge, blue, horn-rimmed glasses. She gave him a sympathetic smile and held out her hands, “Need a little help?”

 

He could barely hear her over the wailing. He moved Claire to his other side and took in the stranger at his side. She was small but clearly in her 20s. She was wearing a green knit beanie over long, wavy black hair, in a long sleeve mustard yellow shirt and dirty denim overalls. She looked like a hipster kindergarten art teacher. 

 

“You good with babies?,” he asked, eying her classic black VANS.

 

“My sister’s got 6.” She wiggled her fingers and focused her attention on the baby. 

 

He handed Claire over. What’s the worst that could happen? If she pulled a runner, he’s sure he could outpace her.

 

The Petite Hipster held Claire against her left shoulder, patted her little back, and muttered, “It’s okay, honey. You’re fine.”

 

Claire let out a tiny chirpy burp and settled down. The miracle worker rocked the baby and rubbed her back some more. Claire fell into a daze, staring up at the lady’s glasses in wonder. 

 

“Oh my God, that was amazing!” 

 

She blushed, “Just practice. You’ll get there.”

 

“What the hell is going on here?” His sister was standing 6 feet away, Starbucks cup in hand. She raised a brow at the mystery woman holding her 3-month-old, “Who are you?”

 

Claire reached for her mother. Hipster Lady moved to hand her over to his sister. “Hi, sorry. Your husband was having a little trouble settling her down. I just wanted to help out.”

 

His sister recoiled, baby in hand. So did he. They shared a disgusted look before his sister said, “Ew no. He’s my brother. This is not an incest baby.”

 

“Yeah, I’m just the clueless uncle. Uncle Roger,” he said, holding out his hand, “Thanks for saving me, Miss…?”

 

“Lily,” she smiled as she shook his hand, “and you’re welcome. I was worried one of the moms was going to call the police if the baby kept crying.”

 

He didn’t let go of her hand and she didn’t pull away. His sister watched the exchange while sipping her iced latte.

 

“Are you here with your own niece or nephew?”

 

“No. I was babysitting but his mom came to pick him up before I approached you.”

 

Roger nodded towards his sister, “Now that she’s back, can I buy you a coffee, or tea, as thanks for saving my life?”

 

Lily blushed, pulling her hand away to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear. “Sure, I know a great little cafe 2 blocks away that’s locally owned.”

 

“Lead the way,” he said and left his smirking sister behind without so much as a See Ya Later, Alligator.

 

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