The Man Who Dropped a Baby

Marream Krollos


A man dropped a baby. The man dropped a very small baby in a small town somewhere a long time ago in England or Ireland or Iceland, maybe. It was some green, wet island with many cascading hills. 


He had dreams afterwards of beautiful smiling baby heads all swirling in a formation. Baby heads with black hair and brown hair and blonde hair and red hair. He thought maybe it was the baby trying to tell him that he was all right in heaven. He didn't often think about what the baby would have become. Is it better to be a man who has dropped a boy baby, and not a girl baby? He would often stare at a fire for hours until he couldn't help but sleep. He hated it when he fell asleep despite himself in his chair while staring at the fire. He would sometimes walk to the cliff and stare at the green and blue water. He still looked forward to that. He would try to make himself sad still by thinking about the baby. He would think this blue could have been the shade of the baby's eyes, or was it a brown-eyed baby? Then he would think about how all these shades of green must be like the baby was somehow—and he would imagine lovely green-skinned babies. 


The mother must have suffered. She had carried the child inside her for months and her body must not have even yet healed when he dropped it. She must not have been able to stand her husband since he must have eventually made a comment about accidents and needing to move on, as men eventually do. 


The father must have suffered. He must not have a baby now, or a wife. 


That day the man was delivering the family a package from the quiet little store he ran in the quiet little village. He knew that the mother had very recently had a baby. It was important to him to be kind to others because he was alone most of the time, and so didn't want to be alone and disliked. It was important to him to be considered kind and be liked. He walked in on the happy occasion with a mother, a father, uncles, aunts, and grandparents. They thanked him and asked him to sit. He remembers sitting on the brown sofa turned gray from wear, by the windowsill with chipped paint on the window with the dirty lace curtains. He remembers the intricate white lace and how it had become a tattered gray in places. He excused it reminding himself that they hadn't had the time to tidy up because of having carried the baby, and now having to carry the baby all the time. He made it a point not to keep anything in his home that could collect dirt. Nothing that couldn't be wiped clean or swept off. He was handed a drink, a cup of tea or coffee or some other warm drink. The house was noisier than he was used to, or comfortable with homes being. His eyes fluttered from the fire to the people together to their distinct faces to their moving mouths and to the baby to the fire. He stood up to go when suddenly he realized he had been handed the baby. He must have taken it gently. He maybe had been rocking it. Then there is silence. And the baby is on the ground. Everybody is staring. All the aunts shriek, and all the uncles moan. The father's face reminds him of their furniture as he moves towards the baby whose eyes were either closed or open. He begins to feel the thud of fists on his chest and arms pushing him out the door. He had to go get a doctor. He walks quickly away to go get a doctor. The mother is whimpering in a corner and the father is walking out the door with the baby. He walks back to his house and waits for them to take him away. But nobody has come for him yet, days later. 


This man, the one who dropped the baby, he could have otherwise been considered quite strapping. He is a healthy, strong, tall man with a broad face and a deep voice. A love interest in a film, were he in another time and place. 


He is now making himself recall lifting the baby up and seeing its small face. He thought he would try to make the baby laugh. He must have wanted to be liked by the baby. He misses conversations. He used to have conversations with people before he dropped somebody's baby. If only he had been born somewhere else. He might have his own children now, and would not have dropped somebody else's baby. He has wondered whether or not he should tell the mother about his dreams of the baby's floating heads. Tell her that the baby is telling them he is happy. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph maybe somebody must have been repeating that day in a squeal. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. He wants to say it all the time now to himself whenever anything happens. He forgets to close the door, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. He leaves something on the stove for too long, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. He thinks about how a scream was like a request that day, or requests came in all sorts of screams. Maybe it was an epiphany, screaming is really just another way to want something. Of course, he wishes he had died instead of dropping a baby. But what does that do, wishing, or dying? You wake up and do things and sleep enough again and again enough times, both will just happen to you. 


His life wasn't very much different now than it was days ago. Obviously people don't like him anymore. But he did all the same things. Luckily he didn't have a wife or children to be bothered by what he had done. He still went in to the store. It's quiet now he thought. But when somebody did come in he handed packages with his fingers locked around them until he felt their grasp was secure. He ate at night and drank water in the mornings. What had really changed? He would miss some of the small, empty conversations. He must not have been holding the baby carefully enough, but that is not what he remembers. 


He remembers now how they handed him the baby and he was rocking it, and somebody must have hit his elbows in that busy, dirty house. What could have happened? What went wrong? Why did the baby fall out of his arms? How does everybody else keep from dropping very small babies? Did it want to die? Was the baby like him? He was a boy child with parents and aunts and uncles and grandparents who was going to grow and grow only to eat at night and drink in the mornings, every day. Cut his toenails. And pluck out hairs. Slide a sharp blade down the skin of his neck again and again. Be disappointed with the smell of his own breath. Wash his own sweat. The baby knew he was going to live if he didn't fall, and that not for very much longer would he be carried, and swaddled. He was once a baby too, after all, and now—look at him now. It would have been a tragedy also someday before if somebody had dropped him once upon a time.