The doorbell rang and Alexander Hamilton let out a long, drawn-out grumble at the interruption from his law studies. He got up from his desk and answered the front door of his shabby townhouse in a rather rundown part of New York City.
At once, a young woman shoved a baby at him. “She’s your problem now.”
“What?” Hamilton stared at the baby in his arms, barely able to see her in the flickering light of a dirty lightbulb. “Maria, I don’t understand.”
“Of course you don’t.” Maria shook her head. “That would be how this mess happened.” She glanced back as tires squealed in the distance. “She’s your problem now. My lawyer will send you the paperwork. Goodbye, Alex.”
“Maria—” Hamilton managed to grab her arm with one hand and keep hold of the baby with the other. “I can’t take care of an infant.” He almost had to shout to be heard over the sirens screaming down the street. “I’m in law school.”
“Should have thought of that before, shouldn’t you?” Maria freed her arm from his grip. “Goodbye, Alex.”
This time, Hamilton didn’t attempt to stop her, distracted by the whimper of the baby in his arms. A wisp of red hair caught the porch light and confirmed she was his. When he looked up, Maria was gone but two stumbling drunks turned onto the street and Hamilton wasn’t about to linger outside. He carried the baby into the one-bedroom townhouse. Books and papers covered the counters and his desk. It was almost finals and he had two more years of law school. He had worked so hard to get his life on track and give himself a future. How was he supposed to do that now?
The baby’s whimper turned to a brief wail and Hamilton bounced her gently. He carried her across the small room to the kitchen and checked the fridge for milk. A case of beer, a half-empty bottle of orange juice, leftover pizza, a collection of condiment, and some moldy cheese reminded him that he could barely take care of himself. When he closed the fridge, a stack of empty, greasy pizza boxes piled on top tumbled to the floor. The noise startled the baby and she cried, her little round cheeks turning as red as her hair.
“Hush, bud.” Hamilton held her against his chest and patted her back. “You’re my daughter and I don’t even know your name.” Or the fact that she had even existed prior to five minutes ago. Tears burned in his eyes at his failures, at his failed future. “What am I supposed to do?”
The baby continued to cry and Hamilton knew he couldn’t stand there and bawl, too.
“Diapers and formula, right?” he asked his screaming daughter whose howls matched the constant sirens of the rough neighborhood. “I can do that.”
His eyes roved over the cluttered house, at the life he wanted, at the future he’d fought for. “We can do this.”