Other Babies

Meredith Alling



Some babies drink soda the second they are born. They glug it down. The sugar courses through their body you can see the brown humming through their spiderweb skin. It shoots straight up to the brain, the hub. It clocks in at five past and gets to work. So that’s certain babies. Other babies determine the cheese level of their surroundings within seconds of inhalation. Then their fingers form into little paws and they claw, claw at the air. This goes on and on to the point of burnout. Then some kind pillowy nurse brings a cheese cube and pops it into their mouth just to balance things out. Other babies are vibrating piglets. They have fleshy hooves. They have regular faces. It’ll be a tough life for that baby, so decisions must be made. Go pig? Some babies go pig. Other babies don’t. Other babies suck the life force from any adult human that looks into their clean glass baby eyes. The adult humans are powerless. They melt, get like a candle, dripping and lopsided. Their mouths stretch out against their bodies like wax. A lip starting at the shoulder and ending near the thigh. They try to lift an everyday object — a pencil. They can’t. Their fingers are useless. They look at the baby and something strong happens inside of them. Other babies have the ability to chew gum. They find a way to move it around in their soft pink mouths. Gum on gum. Any baby who can chew gum is known in their circle as a riot. Other babies do not care to move. They lie like rocks from the moment of the birth. They lie like bricks. They stare up at the clouds and watch them slip across the sky. The clouds move like liquid, like milk. Other babies have four television screens positioned around their heads for total saturation. The outside world ceases to exist. These babies make friends with the pink cat. They think of stumps as seats. They aren’t curious about anything. They don’t ask any questions at all. Other babies are leaf dwellers. They prefer the dirt and they cocoon themselves in leaves. They bite a breathing hole through their leaf wrap. The darkness is welcome; no eye holes. Their bodies turn cold and tight, and then they bloom. Other babies hang on the rear windshield wipers until a member of a driving family says, “There’s a baby back there, on the wipers.” They pull over and pry the baby’s fingers from the wipers; a surprisingly tight grip. Then they brush the flies and the grime from its body and decide to love it. Other babies can smell when meat is perfectly cooked. They let out a violent bark, like a seizure-sensing dog sensing a seizure. Ready the fork and the spoon. These babies end up kitchen companions, propped on the counter, maybe strapped to a cupboard with a bungee cord. Other babies look groovy in tiny jean jackets and tiny leather jackets and tiny leather pants. They wear groovy little sunglasses with an elastic strap. The plastic smashes their eyelashes. Their onesies are decorated with bones. Other babies pinch themselves and cause injury. Puffy arms and legs covered in sharp red pops. This condition is handled with heavy sedatives that cause a baby’s eyes to roll back in their head and their mouth to go slack and they can’t listen or learn or even eat, but they also can’t pinch. Other babies are stubborn jackasses. They cross their arms and roll out their bottom lips and just refuse. Other babies carry small baskets everywhere. They come out of it with a basket on their arm. Then it’s time to fill up the basket. Gauze or whatever at the hospital, then moving forward anything else that is around. Packs of Chiclets, earrings, coins, diaper cream, eggs, crackers, tape. They carry the basket around and people peek inside the basket and say, “Oh what have you got there?” And the baby holds it up all proud. Other babies prefer cows over any other animal. They admire their tall bodies and large heads. They admire their twitching legs and the flies gathered around their eyes. They want to hug a cow’s neck, pull the loose skin, have the cow not react. Or have the cow lick their chins very hard. Other babies read at a high level right away. They hold a newspaper out in front of them and shake it to flatten the pages. They lick their thumb and turn to World News. They get a serious look on their bald faces. They look out the window and think something then turn back to the text. Other babies do not make it very long as babies. It would have been better if they were born a bit older. They can’t be handled. They make someone scream and want to crash the truck. Sometimes they are poisoned. Sometimes people have to live with having poisoned a baby. Other babies are very alive. They are in every room and every muscle and every eyeball. They are loud rushing blood. They are the arm or the leg of someone and that person can never shake that arm or leg, they just stare at it, wonder if it is really a part of them, or if it’s not a part of them. They can’t figure it out. Is that baby me? Am I that baby? It’s all very confusing. They really want to grab and find out. They try to hold their own hand, their own leg. They feel their skin on their skin and they cry.


Meredith Alling is a writer living in Los Angeles. Her website is meredithalling.com and she is on Twitter @meremyth