The first time we tried to rid ourselves of Baby, we threw him in the river. Surely, we thought, a six month old infant, a boy who knows nothing of us, nothing of his own name, will not be able to find his way home. The river was wide, and we knew Baby would drown. But we were not guilty. No. We felt nothing but relief at being finally, inextricably rid of Baby. Now our lives could return to the way they had been, before the onset of Baby. Now our lives could move on.
So you can imagine our surprise, our shock, our sheer disbelief and disappointment when, instinctively checking up on Baby before going for bed, we saw him, safe and happy and cuddling with his teddy bear in his crib.
The next night, we decided to take Baby further out, to the desert that edges against the far corners of our town. We drove Baby in our SUV into the desert, far outside our town. We left Baby on a sand dune, staring silently up at us. We knew the moment Baby said his first word, it was over, we were his. We could not let that happen. Baby would not fool us. We were wise on Baby.
We looked at Baby through our rear-view mirror as we drove away. Baby seemed happy where he was, playing with the rattle we had pityingly left him, staring up at the midnight sky full of stars. We almost envied him.
When we returned home, though, and checked in on Baby, he was right there in his room, sleeping silently, clutching his teddy bear, his knuckles beautiful and pink.
The next night was Friday, and we stayed home to watch a movie, putting Baby to bed early.
The next night, we brought Baby to Mount Taurus, the great mountain in the center of the forest. “Aren’t you excited, Baby?” we said. “A trip!” Baby just looked out the window. He knew what was coming. We left the SUV at the foot of the mountain and began to climb. The climb was long, and Baby was slow, but dedicated. He refused our help.
When we reached the top of the mountain, the view was magnificent. Embarrassed as I am to admit it, I had never climbed Mount Taurus before. The view was wonderful. The view was heartbreaking. It broke my heart.
On our drive back to the town, I looked to you. “Do you think Baby will come back this time?” I asked. You just nodded, keeping your eyes on the dirt, pockmarked road. Then you said, “But maybe not.”
But when we checked in on Baby, when we arrived home in the still-dark hours of the early morning, he was sleeping silently, his left-hand clutching a desiccated rattle.
The next night, we drove Baby to the swamp. The drive took most of the night, and when we arrived, the sun was already beginning to rise. “Goodbye, Baby,” we said, leaving him on a marshy atoll. The swamp was large, and we knew Baby would never find his way home. Still, though, when we arrived home as evening was coming along, we weren’t all that surprised to see Baby, already asleep in his crib, clutching a gator-skin purse.
This is the point where we had the talk.
It was in the living room. You and I really had it out. Baby slept through the whole thing.
“Baby was your idea,” you said.
“If you hadn’t wanted Baby in the first place, none of this would even be a problem,” you said.
“This is all your fault,” you said.
I had to admit you were probably right.
Meanwhile, Baby slept through the whole thing.