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Short Story

BABY BOY BLUE

angry babyWhoa, was that a ride! There I was one day, minding my own and floating around as usual in my liquid world when all of a sudden I’m being squeezed by mighty spasms. As if that weren’t bad enough, all of a sudden my water drains away through this small hole that appeared out of nowhere and I’m being forced down towards it. There was a dim light beyond the hole and muffled sounds too. It was the first use of my eyes for anything other than rubbing or poking and I don’t mind admitting I was very frightened. Being pushed steadily downward head first, I quickly realized my head was too big to get through that little hole. My fright turned to near-panic when my lungs started burning for, absolutely aching for… what? I had no idea.

I felt this must be death, a new concept for me and something I didn’t want to embrace just yet. Then I noticed the small hole growing, dilating and I figured what the heck, I’d best get busy and go with the program, so I squirmed and pushed and strove mightily for that light on the other side of the hole. I reasoned that death might still await me out there but at least I won’t go down without a fight. It was very rough going and extremely taxing. There were moments when I admit I contemplated surrendering to the futility and giving up my life but those thoughts merely showed me how very much I wanted to live and jolted me into burst after burst of strength and energy I didn’t know I had. I became a baby possessed, writhing and pushing and striving for that light, determined not to expire in the constricted tunnel my hospitable world had become.

Out I came with a splash of blood and whatever water remained from my world. My senses were immediately assaulted with blinding lights and loud noises. The sounds were strident and terrifying, completely different from the muted whispers that entered my world. Gone was the rhythmic beat that so comforted me. A pair of giant hairy hands then grabbed me, turned me upside down and slapped my bottom. A huge finger was inserted into my mouth and before I knew it I was gulping great lungfuls of… what?... nothingness, as far as I could tell, but I greedily sucked in my fill of it again and again, expelling it with shrieks of blind terror. My eyes were fairly useless then except to register the blinding light and murky giant silhouettes all around me.

And that’s not all. Before I could get my bearings those huge hands snipped off my umbilical cord! Did these cruel giants mean to starve me? Who were these beings? What were those unintelligible sounds they were making? Had I spent nearly all my life’s energy trying to save myself only to be delivered into the hands of monsters who would carve me up? I was then placed on top of one of these hairy giants, one who was lying down. This creature held me close to its bosom and to my shock I heard the rythmic beating of my world through the creature’s flesh! I’d recognize that sound anywhere. Was my world inside this hairy giant? Was she one of these creatures that had slapped and slashed me? As revolting a thought as that was, logic dictated that this was the truth, that I actually had come from within this giant creature. Such was my physical exhaustion and the traumatic assault on my sense of self and all my senses that I passed out.

I awoke in a giant space, myself lying on a soft surface enclosed with bars. Some sort of garment was wrapped around my midsection. Nearby were many other such small enclosures containing beings like myself, all of us wailing and complaining of having been cruelly ripped from our worlds. When I calmed down I was able to compare notes with the others and found that their experiences were identical to my own. We could barely move in this new world, as if leaden weights were holding us down. Whereas before in our liquid worlds we could float around effortlessly this way and that, use our hands freely and feel pretty much weightless, this new place found us nearly helpless and unable to rise or control our limbs.

While it was of some comfort to know and communicate with other kindred beings sharing a common experience, the ominous presence of the big hairys loomed over us, none of us having any frame of reference to explain their existence or their seemingly omnipotent power over us. We were all seriously disoriented from our ordeal and struggling to make sense out this dire turn of events. Every so often more giant hairy creatures peered down at us through a window making grotesque faces. Were they taunting us? Other giant hairys in white clothing attended to us all, sometimes bringing us to our host creatures for feeding and other times changing our diapers, as I later learned to call them. As a matter of fact the first use of my nose was detecting a dirty diaper, a big disappointment to say the least. Such unpleasantries were unnecessary when I had my umbilical cord intact.

The feeding was quite pleasant, though, suckling at my host creature’s breast and hearing once again the life beat that had been the soundtrack to my world always. I wondered if I would be put back through that hole into where I belonged or was this place of big spaces my new home. My host, or “mother,” was very tender with me and I figured it was she who was chosen to attend to my needs in this new world. After a day or two I got used to her, and also her mate, my “father.” There was also another big creature in my new group of servants, not nearly as big as my parents but still incredibly huge by my reckoning, who I believe is my “Sister,” whatever that might be. She was not nearly as gentle with my person as my two main servants and also seemed quite stupid. I’d have admonished her for her clumsiness but to my dismay the big hairys didn’t know how to speak, only make those gutteral noises I had heard upon first being squeezed from my world. All they kept saying to me those first few days was “bil-lee, bil-lee, bil-lee!” What did that mean? Did they have no other vocabulary? It was very creepy.

On my third day out of my world I started to mistrust my servants’ benevolent intentions when they brought me back to the creature with the giant hairy hands and he sliced off a small piece of my toy between my legs! Was I to be subject to this barbarity, having pieces of me chopped off until I was whittled down to a little piece of bleeding, wailing flesh? Oh cruel fate, thought I, but before I could consult with my fellow babies on this matter I was taken away from the place of world separation and cruel umbilical and penis choppers. That was some small measure of relief. Now I could concentrate on teaching my servants to speak and to serve me properly. I also planned to demand an explanation for the wanton knife wielding done to the two most sensitive parts of my body. That stuff really smarts, let me tell you.

I was brought to another place of big spaces, my parents’ and sister’s home, where I was given a hideously decorated space of my own and then dressed in ridiculous wrappings, or clothes. Outside my world I had incredible trouble learning to use my hands, thus preventing me from shredding my entire wardrobe. I was also always wrapped in a diaper, preventing me from playing with my little toy. In my world I had no such impediments. I strove mightily to try to get my limbs to cooperate, if for no other reason than to sharply smack my giant sister on her freckled snout when she handled me so roughly and endlessly repeated her mindless “bil-lee” litany.

Every so often I was hauled back to the place of world separation and giant hairy hands and was terrified that another piece of me would be hacked off but the sadists there were content to only stab me with needles and stick fingers and implements in my mouth and my bottom. This mild form of torture seemed to satify all concerned, except of course me, but none of them were able to understand my explicit commands to cease and desist. All the giant hairys resisted my attempts to teach them to speak. Instead they seemed bent on teaching me their cacophonous¬†language, little more than gibberish and a language I refused to learn. They’re all quite dim so I resolved to be patient with them if they were ever to learn proper speech.

My servants are properly quite proud to be selected to serve me and are constantly showing me off to other giant hairys and often temporarily blinding me by pointing little boxes at me that emit a powerful flash of light. Often I am taken around in a small wheeled cart outside my home to what I first thought of as the place of unlimited space, a seemingly endless space full of different buildings and flowers and grass and trees and canopied by a pretty blue cover with a blazing yellow sphere lighting it up. I have to admit that this new world is not without its rewards and I now felt I had been separated from my world for a reason that would soon make itself apparent.

Straight lines, angles and hard surfaces, for example, were new to my experience and gave my mind endless fodder for fresh contemplation, really opening up the floodgates of intellectual stimulation. I further had to admit that the big spaces and the endless space now surrounding me were providing my brain with untold new stimuli, spurring my already active mind to even greater exercises of my intellect. Along with these brain-busting activities, however, came myriad challenges I needed to overcome, mostly of the coordination and communication variety.

My former world within my host mother had been at the same time the only place and every place to me. My every need was fulfilled automatically without conscious thought and I was free to think. Not so out here, another pressing reason to teach my dimwitted servants to speak. Oh, they come when I call them alright, whether for hunger or sanitary reasons, but sometimes they just won’t let me be. When there’s a lot of them around they pass me around like a ball and interrupt my thoughts constantly, making foolish faces at me and spouting nonsense, as if I would deign to repeat their gutteral grunts. Please. In my world I had contemplated infinity and solved incredibly complex mathematical equations and physics problems. My mind was free. In this world the only ones I can really talk to are other babies, and those too infrequent encounters are almosty always interrupted by the big hairys with their blinding light boxes and maddening propensity to bounce us all around.

One afternoon we were visiting other big hairies and were sitting comfortably on a blanket under the blue canopy and yellow fire ball. I was discussing the nature of existence and reality with two other babies, really sharing important intellectual information. It was quite stimulating and just as we were approaching an understanding of the greater universe surrounding our world, my sister thought it would be adorable if she sprayed us all with her water gun, prompting our respective host mothers to scoop us up and take us home, thus robbing the three of us of a greater insight into nature. We were all outraged of course, and vowed to redouble our efforts to teach these creatures how to speak so they would never again interrupt discussions of which they could have no possible understanding.

The days turned to weeks and then months and I gradually grew accustomed to the world of big spaces, endless blue canopy and giant hairys. I found out that the giant hairys were not the only odd creatures in the greater world. There were also small winged things that flew through the air, tiny crawly things that dug in the dirt, and cats and dogs. There was a cat around but he kept to himself, apparently uninterested in me or my servants. A creature that really intrigued me though was a small orange shiny thing swimming around in a small bowl of water, a goldfish as I came to know later. The presence of that small thing so content in his watery little world made me homesick but at the same time filled with pity for him when his turn came to be pulled from his liquid world into the hands of the giant hairys, another fish out of water. I wished him luck.

My servants kept a dog around, but he was not allowed near me much, which is a shame because he was the only one around there who could understand me. In what little contact I had with him he told me to forget trying to teach the big hairys to speak, he’d been at it for years and they still didn’t get it. He’d given up trying and was content to learn a few words of their ugly language so they’d have at least some small modicum of communication.

This was disconcerting news indeed. Even more worrisome was his assertion that I would one day metamorphosize into a big hairy myself! My mind reeled at that repugnant thought and I dismissed it immediately, attributing it to the dog’s jealousy over having been supplanted as the main concern of the big hairy servants. While dogs are intelligent creatures, far smarter than the big hairys, their intellectual capacity pales in comparison to mine and my fellow babies. How dare he insult me so!

But the more I thought about his bold assertion, the more weight I had to give his argument. I was certainly a lot larger than I had been the day I left my liquid world. I had already come to the conclusion that I had grown too large to ever return there, no matter how I longed for it. As a matter of fact, I quite easily calculated that at the incredible rate I was growing that I’d dwarf the size of even the big hairys in not too much time at all, perhaps several years at the most. I’d be huge, collossal even. My host mother could never feed a being that size, not even with the jars of tasteless swill she had taken to feeding me to supplement her own milk. Tasteless or not, I ate everything she put into me. I was just so hungry all the time! I knew enough about nature to know that my body had very pressing needs and I had no choice but to obey them. Would this prodigious growth rate continue indefinitely? This place of big spaces would not hold me if that was the case. I wished mightily at that point to discuss this dilemma with other babies but as usual could not get the big hairys to understand my need to be taken to my peers immediately. Damn their stupidity!

Perhaps I’d have to take a cue from the dog and learn some of their language. I’d already figured out that their name for me was bil-lee, or bil-lee-boy, another thing I’d have to correct when they learned to understand me, along with their choice of baby clothes and my living space decor. Why me?, I silently seethed while pondering this new conundrum. I didn’t have enough information to assess whether or not this growth would slow down, stop or continue indefinitely until I reached the blue canopy and that blazing yellow fireball up there. I needed some first rate minds around me to help me figure this one out but there were no babies around just then and I had no way of knowing when I’d see any of my colleagues again.

Perhaps I should concentrate on using my legs as well as my arms so I could go to them myself instead of being carried or wheeled everywhere. The idea of traveling around by myself whenever I wished without having the meddlesome big hairys around was exhilirating. The reality of trying to stand on my own punctured that particular balloon. My body, so graceful and fluid in my liquid world, was now a cumbersome, unwieldy mass of swiftly growing flesh. I noticed that all the big hairys could walk so I figured if those morons could do it then I could too. But I also noted that they don’t grow, giving one a distinct advantage when managing one’s motor skills. I wished nature would pick a size for my body and be done with it so I could learn just how much of me there was to balance and propel through this non-liquid world.

I resolved to stop whining about these limitations and start doing something about them. Every day I practiced standing in my crib. I tried to control my hands and send them somewhere else but in into my mouth, grabbing and holding things and then tossing them around, that sort of thing. These rudimentary attempts at self-propulsion and hand-eye coordination thrilled the big hairys no end, a pretty embarrasing reaction in my opinion. Heck, I knew how stumbling and uncoordinated I was, how could they seem so pleased? I soon found out just how easily impressed they were when I started repeating often-heard words from their gutteral language. You’d think I’d just solved the entire array of quantum physics equations in record time the way they carried on.

And so it goes. I say mama and dada and baba and sissy and they go haywire. Never do they reciprocate and attempt to learn proper speech, even though I repeat the proper words for mama and dada and baba and sissy very patiently to them, over and over again. I could see by then that I’m probably going to have to learn their entire language to properly explain things to them. It won’t be easy, I saw that too. Their speech requires all sorts of unnatral sounds, difficult for a sophisticated tongue such as mine to master. I could also see by watching them speak that obviously they don’t even make themselves clear to one another at times and they’re speaking the same language! My task promised to be a daunting one.

Finally one day I was brought into the company of six other babies I know and we discussed this whole growth issue and our possible metamorphosis into giant hairys. I led off with the assertion that we could not possibly become as they are, what with all that hair and those unsightly teeth in their mouths. Plus the fact that their proportions were completely different than our own, their limbs comically elongated, their heads so small in relation to the rest of them, their obvious lack of intelligence, etc., etc. All present enthusiastically agreed with me, except for Theodore, uncharacteristically silent and umcommunicative.

This was decidedly odd. Theodore had in previous discussions been a brilliant leader and an innovative mind, eager to share ideas and theories and willing to teach as well as learn from others. In short, an inspiration to the rest of us. After a short burst of avid conversation, his absence from the discussion became a distraction, until gradually we all fell silent and looked to him, waiting for an explanation for his odd behavior and detachment.

Theodore regarded us all quietly, looking from one to the next. Without a word, he removed his hat and revealed a nearly full head of hair. We all gasped. Then he opened his mouth and showed us the beginnings of teeth, lots of them! Then, still without saying a word, he rose and walked over to his mother. We all noticed immediately that his proportions were becoming distinctly elongated and that his head was not nearly as large in relation to the rest of his body as it used to be. He climbed onto his mother’s lap and stared back at us, his big sad eyes resigned to his fate. We were stunned. The dog was right. We would all become giant hairys. Our growth rate would slow and we’d become their size. We’d never teach them to speak or attend to our needs satisfactorily.

Once again Theodore had taught us something important, although his face showed it to be a hollow triumph and reality dictated it would be our last lesson from his brilliant mind. We all looked back at him, stunned at the monumental implications of this hard, hard lesson. Then we all stared one to the other, all of us suddenly as speechless as Theodore, each of us profoundly ruminating on our own individual experiences with the body changes that were all too apparent in each of us. There was extra hair here, a budding tooth there and an elongated frame or two among us. We had been deluding ourselves as to our true natures and railing against the inevitable. The hurt and shock of this realization completely halted our previously spirited discussion and as one we burst into tears of futile rage.

Our mothers, surprised at the sudden squalling erupting from the cheerful chatter, collected us all and tried to soothe us with their chirpy, sugary tones, but we weren’t have any of that nonsense that day. With bemused looks at one another over what could have caused six babies to spontaneously burst into tears, they took us our separate ways to our respective homes. I was not my cheerful self the next few days, prompting my mother to bring me to the doctor, a word I learned describing the man with the giant hairy hands, sharp needles and probing implements. He found nothing wrong with me, just as I tried to tell my mother but she of course didn’t comprehend. What was ailing me a doctor can’t fix. He cannot, after all, probe into my heart and my mind, where that fateful day’s wounds were so deeply inflicted.

It took me several days to get over the shock and the ensuing depression of hard truth. I reasoned my way out of it. My mind is still keen and active and I tried without success to formulate ways out of my dilemma, but a first-rate mind must in the final analysis accept truth, painful or otherwise, or relinquish its claim to being first-rate. My mind saw clearly what Theodore and the dog knew to be factual, and I had to accept it. To comfort my wounded ego, I recalled my first great shock, being violently rent from my liquid world into the greater one which now surrounds me and will for as long as I live. I didn’t surrender then, but instead strove with all my might to face what was on the other side of that little hole, come what may. I won’t surrender now either. If a big hairy I must be, then let me be the best big hairy I can possibly become. I’ve since redoubled my efforts to walk and use my hands better, and to learn the language of the big hairys.

Maybe they’re not as dumb as I thought they were. Or at least some of them. Since that day I’ve been more carefully observing them, looking for signs of intelligence. Sadly, my sister is still as dumb as a fencepost and clumsy as can be, but Mom and Dad seem to have some wits about them. They’re learning to pay closer attention when I seek to learn new words and don’t speak to me in that dopey sing song cadence as much as they used to. I believe it’s finally dawning on them that I have a good brain. At least I like to think so, but I’m wary of deluding myself as to the true nature of things like I had earlier.

So, I suppose I’m more open to learning the wisdom (such as it is) of the big hairys. They seem to have the greater world figured out okay, explaining to me that the blue canopy is the sky and the yellow ball that lights it is up is the sun and the white ball that changes shape and shines at night is the moon. The place of big spaces where we live is our house, the big spaces being called rooms. They’re still ridiculously easy to please, judging by their ecstatic reaction when I pronounce those simple words, even though they sound a bit different from their own pronunciation with my more refined baby accent.

I’ve totally given up the ghost of teaching them proper speech, but I figure we’ll be communicating well enough once I master their language. Hopefully it will contain more nuance and complexity than the simple sentences they speak to me. I figure they think I’m as stupid as Sister, a notion I can’t wait to dispel. I look forward to stimulating discussions on theoretical mathematics, the nature of the physical universe and the ramifications of exploring inner space far beneath the molecular level, like those my fellow babies and I enjoy. I’d like to impress Mom and Dad with something more complex than standing up briefly on rickety legs before plopping back down on my butt.

The hand-eye and walking thing are tougher than I thought, and though I’m making progress on both fronts, it’s a slow process, and a humbling one as well. I can see now that I’m going to be dependent on Mom and Dad and even, heaven help me, dumb old big Sister for a long while yet. I’ve seen a bit of the greater world around us and realize I’m as yet ill-equipped to get around in it by myself. Even big Sister, as huge as she is, still depends on Mom and Dad to a great degree. Hopefully my progress won’t be as slow as hers, but perhaps it may be. That just might be the nature of big hairys. There’s nothing to be gained by fooling myself anymore. Whatever the program is, and it’s still not all that clear to me yet, I guess I’ll just have to go with it and see where it leads. Wish me luck.

Copyright 2007 R.R. Crespo

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