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Short Story

A Cold Baby (short story)

I open my eyes, forgetful, nothing, spinning my drives, trying to boot up. What is the what is the what is the what is the. My mind functions perfectly, I know everything, just, I haven`t remembered it all yet. It`s there somewhere. And its flooding in, and here I am, becoming me. Yes, yes, yes. I was asleep; that is where I was, and here I am now, here again. Awoken. Alive. Again. A lovely phenomena. I wonder what it will be like to not wake up again? If it will feel any different.

Ahhh, it feels good to stretch my brain, to become myself. I gaze around my room, staring at nothing particular, I just don`t particularly feel like shutting my eyes or staring at nothing; else I have to think of something, and at this particular moment of my consciousness that just doesn`t feel necessary.

Now, why am I up again? Is there a reason? What woke me up? There’s no alarm, but I have a sense of urgency. Do I work today? Could I go back to sleep? I don’t know, but I’m uncurious right now, time is slow and I’m sure whatever in the what it is that I’m going to do for this particular burst of consciousness can wait these few sparse minutes that contains an infinite of blissful moments while I rediscover after the death of sleep the solemn pleasure of being a human being.

I feel myself remembering my past lives. Not in some pseudo-religious way, it’s still too early for that, but rather, my atoms and cells recall to my mind their endless lives as a part of the universe. I was a tree, and I will be a star; right now I am a human being and all the parts of my body are singing praises for they, unlike a tree or a star, it is they that get the privilege of being a part of me at the right now, at the this moment. Here. Cus, well, while a tree might rise to the height of a cloud and gaze solemnly at generations of life built in its shadow, or a star might live for a billion passion filled years, it is only the human, only the human in all the universe, perhaps, who gets this privilege of consciousness. To actually have that gift of not just being an actor in the universe but a spectator also; the only spectator; the spectator who has the inexplicable privilege of seeing the perfection that prevails everywhere.

Ahh, the quite musings of my fresh mind make me smile uncontrollably for a lifetime or a minute. I forget. I, for a moment or a lifetime, feel at peace. Is this death? Is this life? Is this the idea of infinite or nirvana? Perhaps, I will just slip into one infitismile moment and that will be it. Never age, never die, just exist forever right here and right now in this isolated lonely morning. This single second.

The fuck. The fuck. I am standing. I was lying, but I am standing, and I did not tell me body to stand but I am standing and why what the fuck how how. Ok. Cool. Shit. My body is telling my brain. Just chill and let what the fuck just happened register. Why am I standing? Ok. It was because I felt something move on my head, and then the something walked over my face, and the something, some great dark mother fucking thing eclipsed my eye. My home body reacted, thank you very much body: shaking convulsing wrenching, and here I am standing. OK. That’s logical. I guess. But what the fuck was on my head. And more important. Or at least more critical in my deconstruction of events, where is the dark creature now.

I am on guard. The animal in me pushes my brain down and all I do is hunt. Where. Where. Fucker. Where are you. You can’t hide. Where. Where. THERE. I see you. I corner you. Cock sucker you are mine. I will tear you apart. I am big, you are small, and you have bothered a colossus you stupid stupid stupid

But now that I have caught my prey, I wrench the controls away from the animal within me. The danger is passed, and I need to be in control. I always need to be in control. It was a mistake to give up control for that last moment. I was weak. I am always weak. But that doesn’t mean I will always be weak.

I see my darkness. A spider crawling with ponderous slowness across my bare cement floor. I watch him. For the moment, with danger at a safe distance, I am enthralled. Another living beast. You, yes you the spider, you have motives don’t you. But lo, he is horrible, a nightmare beast. Big and bulbous, with that fur that doesn’t belong to the realm of nature but rather to most surreal fantasy. The fucker had been on my head. The fucker had been on my head. The fucker had been on my head. The fucker had been on my head oh god oh god the fucker had been on my head. I feel the primal me attempt to wrench control, to deal with this situation in the right here and the right now and I feel close to letting him but NO I will not be defined by the actions of an animal and NO  I will not give up control of this situation. BACK DOWN SELF. Now. Now. Good. This is me again. Ok. Ok. I want the spider out of here. Now. Where is a cup and a paper towel; loathsome as the beast might be, I don’t want to kill it. I feel that if some great force like me goes around annihilating smaller forces solely because it has the capability then why should whatever god it is we eventually discover not deal with vermin such as myself in the exact same manner. A meaningless gesture on my part, but still a gesture, and it is not the impact of the gesture on the world whose impact I worry about but rather the impact on my personal perception of my own soul.

Bam. The spider is dead. The animal inside me leaves as suddenly as it came and I am left with my desolation. Had the spider ran towards me all of a sudden? I don’t know. But poor pitiful creature. My sincerest apologies are moot, death has caught you, but I still offer them to the universe as condolence. I have affected the pattern of the universe. I have made a change to the organic structure of life. Me. Any causality resulting from this is the fault of me. I add this though to the mountain weighing down the back of my soul, and regard the situation that I have wrought.

Like after bad sex, after the passion is ended, there is this hollowness of the aftermath. Every necessary motion a reminder of the vileness of the deed. I grab a dust pan and sweep. Sorry little fellow. Did you have children? Did you have a wife? Do spiders have wives? I attempt to feel nothing but pure sympathy for the spider, but, underneath my façade in a manner that even my most external emotions recognize my conscious is brimming with rage. Yes, I acted wrong. But the mother fucker was on me. He walked over my eye. He destroyed my nirvana. The world for me is darker for both the entrance and the exit if this little giant monster.

I have to go to work. Oh yeah, that’s it, that’s why I’m up. I’m pretty sure. Or at least I’m pretty sure I said I’d go. I guess I’m obliged. I don’t believe any force in the universe that says it’s going to do something should back down from its requirements. I have said I would do, therefore, I should go. If I am to be a force of entropy, then I shouldn’t say I would do something. Unless that is a part of my entropy. But at the moment, I don’t want to decide whether I am, or am not, a force of chaos, and  therefore or however or maybe or perhaps, I should do those things I said. Even though I don’t have to. Besides, why not. Why not accelerate my engines to full speed and see where my conscious mind takes me unconsciously.

With the grace of unwasted motion I glide to the washroom. I stare myself in the mirror, realizing I’m naked. This makes getting into the shower a bit easier. Perfect. Does this even out my experience with the spider? No. But it is the first step in making amends, paltry though it is. It will be many moments before I am at peace again.

Well, anywise, I shower and brush my teeth and say my prayers and think about many things which for me are very interesting, but I have forgotten them, or at least forgotten to remember them. Life is not so terrible, I did have the pleasure of their thought running through my mind, but I do apologize for not sharing them with you, though truthfully I don’t care that much. However, I do feel that it is necessary for you to know that now, I am standing just inside the door of my apartment (yes I live in an apartment) and have just finished putting on my shoes. I am ready to go outside, to go to work, to be alive; to go about that activity of squandering my infinite with the drudgery of waiting for death to take me away again or again or again. I am smiling, I think.

Now, I could be recounting all of this to you for just the sheer pleasure of communicating what it is to be alive as a me. Perhaps I will do this for you one of these days. But my god, that process is slow or endless and by the time I fully explain to you life as it is for my living we’ll have both realized that we never really lived a life: myself, because I spent consciousness trying to pin down with accurateness the atomic workings of a single moment; and yourself because you fell through the hole of my mind and I greedily will not let you out. You are mine. And why would you want to quit something you have started?

Another digression. Apologies. I was thinking this conscious recollection could go somewhere specific, but, instead  it will go here. I’m not going to tell you the pleasure of my ride on the bus, or the casual interactions I undergo in my environment with its various interesting object and denizens. Rather, I want to tell you about this new door, not my front door (that was further up that page and now we’re down here), that I find myself in front of. A door that I don’t know if it is real or fake, if it is dream or consciousness, if I have walked through the door a thousand times or if it is just my fear of walking through the door which makes its other side seem so familiar. What I do know, or what I claim to know right now but please don’t hold me to that, is that here, in front of me is the door. And I have just knocked.

If you’re curious why I am here, at this door, it is because of my work. And I do have the time while I wait for the door to be answered to explain to you what my job is, but really, even if you do care, I don’t care to explain it. Not, because of laziness but because it is my life and I would rather think about the freedom of clouds or the specific blue of the ocean then to recount my job. I like my job. It gives me a reason to not stop existing. But what it is is simply a job, and really, it is like any job. The door hasn’t opened yet, but that thought is finished. Is it so wrong? Are you curious? The person who would describe to you what their job is, is not who I am, and if that is what you want I would not just ask but implore you to look elsewhere in your reading. You can stay here, I love our communication. But if I am having pleasure and you are displeased them I am greedy, I am robbing you, and while I love you and what you have given me I ask that you leave. Even if you leave me alone. Loneliness is a fear for me, but it is a horror that I can accept.

The door opens and a young Chinese woman opens the door. Without thinking I give her the pleasantries of my work, go through the motions with my body while my mind curiously runs its tentacles over the ladies body and possessions. Ahh the color pink is everywhere, it hurts my vision but I hear that woman and men see colours differently, so perhaps it is beautiful inside her eyes. Oh, there are pictures of a tiniest baby, yet no pictures of an older child. Could it be she has a baby? I accept and absorb everything, my consciousness reveling in the novelty of the surroundings, and I am content that for the moment my moments are full.

But, wait, what was that? My autopilot of conversation is operating smoothly, and I can tell I am talking with her both professionally and with friendliness, but there is something strange in her responses. I don’t understand why, but the penetrating eye every person has in the center of their mind for me suddenly turns to the woman like a spot light. What’s going on? There is a causal alarm going off somewhere, I can’t tell if it is in the house or in my mind. If there is a fire or if my sixth or seventh sense is telling me to be on guard. But my silent confusion is ended, the lady tells me she has something that has finished in the oven she has to deal with. While usually with people in my sort of work this is a less then subtle excuse to get rid of me, this woman, with whatever strangeness it is she possesses right now, it seems more like an invitation. A welcome excuse to bring me into her home, deeper into her life, if only for right now. If only for the fantasy that perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. Something. Neither of us knows quite yet.

She is talking to me, but I haven’t really been listening. I now turn my attention to whatever it is she feels is necessary for my knowledge. Ahh. She is a mother, I was right. Ahhh, she is a new immigrant. I guess her language is very foreign, now that I listen to it, I just hadn’t noticed. Ahhh, her husband hasn’t emigrated yet but soon soon soon. And then she, her darling husband, and their beautiful son, they can be all be together. Life, for this strange little woman, will be complete again; it will be as in her dreams.

I think that’s what she’s saying to me but it’s hard to be sure. And besides, just because she’s saying it  doesn’t mean it has any truth or resonance to it. What I do know is she is lonely. Impossibly lonely. Perhaps I constructed unconsciously the story of her husband being away. Perhaps there is no husband. Perhaps I’m just unthinkingly formalizing the painting which my perceptions have painted, but have interpreted to strokes wrong. What is important is that I am aware or the colors. And this woman is lonely; looking at me with eyes too big for her head, expectantly quivering while I speak, then torrenting out words, mostly nonsensical when I stop speaking: the dam of her mind has been breached and out flows all that emotion which had been blocked. I wonder idly, perchance arrogantly, when the last time a person had knocked on this lady’s door.

Blah blah blah blah blah. I feel moderate guilt, this is not the way I promised to perform my job. But I killed that spider this morning, and perhaps if I give a little goodness to this fragile little flower the universe will find some form of equilibrium in how it deals with me. I dunno. I’m bantering though, and I feel good because I’m pretty sure I’m making this little lady feel pretty good. I’m patting myself on the back.

But she freezes for a minute. Stares at me with a mixture of confusion and anger. Why? What had I said? I had asked her where her son was, since the house was so quiet. She is under control again now. But the façade has crumbled. I saw the devil in her soul, and even if this woman herself doesn’t know it, her body knows the malevolence that percolates it’s fiber. And for a minute, this beast revealed itself to me.

The woman is under control. She goes back to bantering. Her son is a wee bit sick with fever and napping. She is a good mother, so at the first sign of any sort of sickness she took him to the doctor, and the local doctor has told her that her baby has a bit of a fever, nothing serious, just to give him some mild off the shelf medicine and to keep him from getting too hot. She is bursting with pride when she tells me that with hard work she has performed the doctor’s orders perfectly. I am feeling strange though. I don’t know why, but I have stopped patting myself on my back. The light is still joyous, the scene still jolly but something in this woman is a vacuum for sucking up my pleasure and I want to get away from her. Fuck whatever it is that has twisted her soul into that devil below the surface. It is my business, as another human being, to care. To give her my empathy and my support. But I am weak. I am weak and I want away from this tattered little beast. From whatever it is that I’m sure I will discover if I stay much longer.

However, horribly, I find myself walking with the woman through her house. Her endless nonsensical sentences have not stopped, but now, they seem to have accelerated. I know her life story. Word for word. Worse yet, I can recount it. She is burning what she says into me. And she is accelerating  Her momentum is pushing me and my levianthic self is being pushed off of my calculated route. Stop! Woman. Free me! But. It is too late. For what, I don’t know; though my body is free this lady has dug her claws into my spirit and it would be murder or suicide to extract myself now.

We are walking, not quicker in speed but quicker and quicker and quicker in mental momentum. I find myself talking freely with her. Telling her my waking dreams, about how my job is and why I do it, about my artistic ambitions and my fear that I am too weak to meet them. Her hand out of nowhere is in my hand I have no idea how it got there. If it was always there. If I took hers, or she took mine, or if just in passing they met sporadically and perfectly. Here they are.

And again, for the third time in this recollection or reconstruction or fabrication or reverie or what have you, I have come to a door. Now, the momentum of my mind, which had been asymptotically accelerating comes to a seismic halt. The supernova is over and what is left is blackness and bleakness and I have not the ambition or capability to walk through the door. To see what it is that this bizarre little woman has brought to show me. I don’t know. I am finished. I am spent. But! That dyadic relationship between the momentum of my mind and the momentum of my body for the first time in the story but the legion time in my life separate, and I continue stumbling forward, trapping my mind as an imprisoned traveller.

My physical momentum causes me to walk through the door with the little lady without missing a step. I remark on how strange it is that I’m here. A piece of me wonders if perhaps I should sleep with the woman, lonely as she is. Another part of me reviles at the notion. But the majority of me is centered on the crib in the center of the room. Not touching any wall, strangely in the dead center; almost a shrine; maybe, indeed it is a shrine. In the perfect middle of the crib is a baby, perfect looking, of no more than a very short life. A new creature. His features fill my vision and I notice that even as young as he is, even with those misshapen features of childhood, he looks like his mother, and for the first time I realize that his mother is beautiful. Impossibly so. And she is standing next to me. Making quiet cooing noises and telling me with compassion to not wake her little god.

I don’t want to acknowledge the death of the little creature in front of me, and for the moment, or for at least this sentence, I will avoid it. I would perhaps tell you my own love of children, my own dream to one day have some of the little guys myself. But my god. My god. This poor woman. This poor woman. This benevolent murderer. I know the words patricide and matricide and fratricide, but what do you call it when you kill your own son? What do you call killing when it’s not murder? An accident? True, accidents may happen, but if the causality is death the word seems too weak.

The crib is in the center of the room. The baby is in the center of the crib. The baby is lying on sack, after sack, after sack of ice. He is using a bag of ice as a pillow. He has a thin bag of ice as a blanket. He is dead. Frozen. Blue. Perhaps this way for weeks. Oh, the poor mother. Oh, the hope that there is no father to have to suffer such desolation. Oh, a dead cub of humanity, the worst sin. Why couldn’t I have protected it. Oh, my mind is spinning, repulsing and crying. I weep, and I weep and I weep. Oh this poor woman. And, this woman. This woman right now is still whispering to me to be quiet. That her baby is sleeping. That he has a fever and needs sleep and to not be warm. And he isn’t warm, she has been a good mother and made sure, just as the doctor ordered, that he doesn’t become warm. Therefore, what he has need of is sleep. And I must let the little baby get some sleep. The little precious baby.

I slowly twist my brain and my head toward the woman, my brain a blank canvas not knowing how to paint this scene. I stare at the woman. Could she not know? How could she not know. But our eyes meet. For an instance, but in that instance we recognize. I fall inside her and am her and touch the inside of her brain and see that she is empty. She is sleeping. She too is dead. Or if not dead hanging from a rope, waiting for the emptiness to find her. But! That is but a part of her. Some other part has grabbed the wheel. Is driving with fury and absurdity; has built a fortress of irrationality that everything is ok, everything is perfect, and this crazed demon met my eye, and wanted confirmation and acknowledgement that indeed the world was correct. That she was a foreigner in a new country, a country where a person is to trust the authorities. She has done as those authorities had instructed her. Therefore, by the logic of the land she now called home she had performed the proper actions; even if things seemed foreign and strange, perhaps uncomfortable, everything was foreign and strange for her in this new country. Ahh! The poor little creature.

I collect myself. I know my actions, but I don’t analyze them. The animal that killed the spider fills me again, works to protect me, to save me from harm. It is telling the little woman, perhaps even jollily, how precious the little baby is. How he looks very strong, and if he looks so strong at so young he will grow up to be a very strong man. A great man. Yes, he is beautiful. Yes, that is the perfect name for him. Oh inside I revile the universe; this is not the reality that the sunny day promised. But either was the spider. Oh little woman, can’t you be free? Can’t you be happy.

Back on the street, here I am, but how? It is over. I feel my mind drifting away from the last scene. Reconstructing it into a paradigm that my memory can accept as the true series of events which just passed. Perhaps I overreacted. Perhaps I saw the baby quiver just a little bit. Of course the baby was alive and sleeping, just as the mother said. I have an imaginative mind and I subconsciously thought the worst just to give my mind some dark entertainment for the day; just to construct a flight of fancy for the sake of curiosity: for the what ifs. I can feel myself accepting this. At least accepting the possibility, and this is good.

I am back home now. Gazing idly at a wall content. Not really thinking about anything important, or at least nothing that would be classified by others as important though I am finding tremendous pleasure in my idle thoughts. Here I am on a white horse, king of somethingorother, somebody to look up to, somebody to dream to be and here I am dreaming it. The woman is out of my head. Forgotten with so many other random entropotic forces that hammer at the walls of my sanity. Those forces who I have to decide whether I am for or against. Again, today, you are my enemy, and my walls have held. If only barely. I am still myself. I will still go to work at a job which is meaningless, even on time because I said I would. I still live in a world which makes sense. I am still one of the denizens of normalcy, still a progenitor in a justified belief in the logical.

A spider, again, comes out of nowhere. With thought, I repulse my animalistic nature, and step on the spider. He is dead instantly. Guilt hits me again, yes, but it is less than before. More manageable. Why take the chance that maybe this spider will walk over my sleeping eyes also. Why take unnecessary risks in a world that wants to be chaotic. I go outside and rub my feet on the soft grass of a neighbor’s lawn. I think superficially that the night is a lovely temperature, that it is the perfect sort of weather for a walk with a friend; I think in tertiary way that it was right for me to kill both spiders, but the second was more correct because I felt less guilt for it: that is how the equation works; I think subliminally, in those voids of my soul whose existence I acknowledge but whose location I’ve never been able to map out, of the lady. The mother of the baby. Of the look, just as she was shutting the door on me and had already said goodbye. The look that perhaps was her letting her guard down for a minute, the look of acknowledgement mind body and soul of the sin that she has committed. The self knowledge of her dissonance. And the refusal to deal with it at the moment. To put it off for a little while longer, just a little. Perhaps the baby had been frozen there for years. Perhaps the world was more crazy then I cared to acknowledge. Perhaps this entire gift of consciousness that earlier this morning I has so reveled in is no gift at all, but the greatest curse bestowed on any character in the universe. The ability to see beauty does in no way negate the virulent despair of interacting with what we used to call the devil. Perhaps the devil is the norm, entropy is the norm, chaos is the norm: these are the true laws of the physical world, and us bastions of rationality, us believers in a world that makes sense, we are the irrational.

Perhaps.

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