“Baby in a Box”–flash fiction, Difficult People

Baby in a Box

 

 

          In some hot house corner of her imagination, in dreams, in reality, weren’t imagined scenes possible memories from another life?

          She shivered. This was something horrid, impossibly possible, the time she had a baby and put It in a box. A yellow brown cardboard box. And the baby, a girl, sweet pea cute, Gerber ad kid with dimpled charm, she closed the top and taped it shut gently; she didn’t look down to see the eyelids, two halves of equal width; sad ending, It slept in a textbook box she found in the bookstore dumpster behind the high school.

          Her parents had looked at the baby and said, we’re too old, we don’t want to raise another child. Sorry, but no, the strain will kill us.

          But I can pretend she’s my younger sister or brother.

          But her mother said, no. Taking on that baby would make her seem weird, an older woman who didn’t know when to quit making babies. There’s a time for everything, her mother said, you’ll have to raise It yourself…or let It go.

          But how? And why?

          There didn’t seem to be a boyfriend, a father stepping forward.

          Then she remembered the little casket at that funeral for their neighbor woman’s baby; her mother had taken her to the church service but not to the burying. Maybe they cremated the dead baby, and its box might be filled with gray powder and there was no memory now of a little daughter or son or sister or brother.

          Finally, she went to get the baby in a box from the abandoned gas station. The baby was fine. No one who waited at the bus stop had noticed a baby in a box. It smiled, It wasn’t hurt, and It shined from the box like a light of pleasure. It cooed. It was a good baby in a box and It was very clean, with bright brown eyes, very clear and thoughtful.

          Most unusual maturity, she realized, and studied the baby lying in its comfortable bed in the box. She was glad now she would never forget her baby’s eyes. Never never…

 

 

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