A couple of weeks ago, the homework for my writing class was to take a headline from a tabloid and use it as a jumping off point for a more serious short story or poem. I was uninspired by the headlines in my grocery star tabloids ("Brad Gives Angie Ultimatum!" "Jennifer Lopez Fights Eating Disorder!" "Larry King Marries Again!") and decided to go to that old standby - the now sadly defunct Weekly World News. I stole a legendary headline from them. The monologue that follows is all my own.
"Bat Boy Found in West Virginia Cave!" by Bill Creighton, Weekly World News, June 23, 1992
I blame the doctor.
I wanted a baby so badly. The other doctors I'd seen wouldn't help me, so I sought this one out. The office was in a bad part of town and it was dark and smelled a bit funny but he didn't ask me many questions. He said he would help me get pregnant.
And he did. I don't know what the shots were for or what was in the medicine he gave me to drink but I didn't care. I would soon have my baby.
It wasn't a difficult pregnancy. I didn't get too sick. The last few months were hard when I had trouble sleeping but that was it, really. It would have been more fun if there had been someone – anyone - in my life to share in my excitement, throw me a baby shower or help me set up the nursery. But I didn't mind so much. Soon I would have a baby to love. I wouldn't need anyone else.
He was born right on his due date and, from the first, I could tell something was wrong. The first time I held him in my arms I felt not love but revulsion. This was not the child I was meant to have. He was not my baby.
In those first few months he cried a lot. I made sure that he was fed and his diapers were dry but for the most part, I left him in his crib. He was safe there and I did not have to look at him.
As he got older, I continued to cringe at his touch. When he tried to crawl in my lap, I would push him away. When he cried, I left him to it. No one could say that I did not take good care of him. He had food and clothes, I even bought him books and toys. But nothing could make me love him.
I don't feel too guilty about that because it soon became clear that he was a bad kid. The first time he got into trouble in school, I went in to meet with the his teacher. After that, I didn't bother answering her notes or phone calls. If he couldn't get along with the other kids there was really nothing I could do.
The first time he ran away, I called around to the neighbours. The second time, I left the door unlocked so he could come in when he decided to come home. The third time, I locked it.
The first time he was arrested, I went down to the police station right away. The second time, I let him spend the night in jail. The third time – I decided he was the state's problem not mine.
A short time after that, he stole a car from the school parking lot. I haven't heard from him since. This morning I got a call. He was found hiding in a cave in West Virginia. They want me to come to him. But what would be the point?
That child, that particular child, was a mistake. He should never have been born.
I am sad, though. I do feel a loss – not for that child but for the baby I might have had. The mother I might have been.
Maybe I should try again.
This time, I'll go to a different doctor.