I’m always scribbling in notebooks. I have stacks by now: multi-coloured and full of crazy words. The other week, I started reading through them, searching for a half-finished tale about a witch-finder and a midwife.
I couldn’t find that particular story, but I did manage to discover other story snippets. Here’s one you might enjoy.
Once upon a time, Berta found a baby on the subway: a baby boy, only a few months old, with brown eyes and curly black hair.
Berta, who had been reviewing her diary on her phone while swaying gently to the train’s rhythm, at first didn’t notice the infant. Becoming aware of eyes fixed on her, she looked up.
“Where did you come from?” she breathed.
The child was perfect, but oh so tiny: no larger than a tea cup. He’d been placed in a car seat and covered neatly with a woollen blanket, embroidered with blue flowers. That’s how Berta knew he was a boy.
She and the baby were the only ones in the carriage. (It was still very early, so most people were still asleep.)
A baby shouldn’t be alone, Berta thought. Glancing down at her phone, she tried to put the child from her mind. Perhaps if she ignored it, it might go away.
The baby sneezed.
A baby sneezing is the most amazing thing. Unlike adults, a baby sneezes with its whole body: feet twitch, legs bend, tiny hands clench into fists. And Berta smiled, because the kid was so cute.
The tiny-but-perfect baby smiled back.
And Berta, who had never wanted children, who had never felt the slightest urge to even spend time with kids? She fell in love.
Berta left the train with the baby.
The car seat was no larger than a shoe box, and the child fitted inside it perfectly. It felt was like something from a fairytale; like a dream. Not at all like something you’d find on the subway.
Berta was on a career fast-track. She loved her job in commercial law; she loved her independence. She had no wish for a child. Anyway, there was the small matter of that ovarian cyst. But yet, most nights she dreamed of carrying a child and in the morning her arms felt heavy with its absence.
Three stops to go.
The platforms were nearly empty, with only the odd passerby outlined against the yellow-tiled walls. She glanced again at the tiny, perfect infant. He was dressed in a hand-knitted white matinee jacket, embroidered with small blue ribbons. Someone loves this child.
Bending she whispered into the baby’s ear: “Who are you? Where do you come from?”
The baby stirred, as though it understood the question, and Berta heard quite clearly – all her life, she believed this – a voice. It said: Take him. He is yours.
Swoosh! The train doors slid open.
And Berta, in a moment of craziness, or indecision or just mad, pure love, lifted the child’s car seat by its handle, the baby still inside, and stepped from the train onto the empty platform where the CCTV camera was turned away.
Heading for the stairs, she whispered, “What should I do with you?”
The baby opened sleepy dark eyes. “Take me home,” he said, so clearly that Berta nearly dropped the seat, baby and all.
When Berta arrived at the office, her assistant, Stefan, stared at the infant. “What?” he asked slowly, “is that?”
“A baby. I found him on the subway.”
“A baby? On the subway? And you just took him?”
“I know,” said Berta wearily, “I’m crazy.”
The child opened dark eyes and smiled at her, and she knew that if she had to do it all again: choose a child and steal him, car seat and all – she would.
“What’s his name?”
“Name?” Berta blinked. “Um …” In the car seat, the child stirred. “Daumen. Yes. His name is Daumen.”
“Thumb?” said Stefan. “What kind of a name is that?”