Sunday, November 22, 2009

My husband was driving the car, the children in the back, I in the passenger seat. The baby was asleep in its bassinette in the back section of the station wagon, the same one my father drove when I was a child.

The baby woke up and started to cry.

‘Can we stop the car?’ I asked. It took what seemed like forever before my husband could pull over into a clearing on the side of the road. The longer it took the more hysterical the baby became. But just as we pulled over the baby settled again.

I picked it up, a strange looking baby, with the body of an older child and the face of a bat. I knew I must take responsibility for this baby, even as I needed to get to the airport to collect an old friend, from Tasmania.

At the airport I walked through a restaurant on my way to the collections area. I carried the bat baby now asleep in my arms and hoped that no one would notice it was not an ordinary baby. I feared if they caught sight if its face they might worry this baby was contagious of some exotic disease. As long as the baby slept in my arms I’d be fine.

I wandered around the terminal in search of my friend and came upon her just as she was about to hand over the sixty dollar entrance tax. We opened our purses simultaneously and I handed over forty of the sixty. She found the balance and then went to visit the toilet. She said she’d be ready in a minute.

I took the bat baby for a walk down steps and out to a green grassy oval whereupon several stall holders were selling second hand stuff, like single earrings. I worried the baby would wake. By now I knew it was a boy.

I went to find my friend who was herself by now looking after someone else’s baby. This baby was in a bassinet next door to the toilet. It was screaming. I rocked the cradle till the baby settled back to sleep.

Its mother returned. The bat baby woke up and I worried that the real mother would wonder about the strangeness of my baby.

The alarm went off.

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