Baby Baby: Eight Micros
Kathy Fish

Everyone’s in a hurry.
Especially the men, who run for the trains and sacrifice their briefcases to
the doors to keep them from closing. Men in the seats, reading their
newspapers or their paperbacks. Ling is weary of these men. She wants to
stick her pregnant belly into their noses. She looks at herself in the
window. She’s wearing a herringbone maternity suit with a large red bow at
her neck. She looks angry and fat, but festive.

(78 words)

* * *

Six weeks after giving birth, Ling goes back to work downtown. She pumps her
breasts in the ladies room, sitting on the toilet. Co-workers come in
to pee or brush their teeth and the pump squeaks and from the stall, Ling
says sorry … I’m sorry.

(45 words)

* * *

Before dawn, she buckles the baby into the Escort and sticks a bottle in its
mouth. She leaves the car seat at the babysitter’s for her husband, who
collects the baby when he gets off work and drives the baby home in his
Toyota. The baby listens to Bruce Springsteen in the Toyota and Moonlight
Sonata in the Escort.

(59 words)

* * *

Ling hands the babysitter a half cup of frozen blue milk in a baggy. The
babysitter shrugs. “I’ll mix it with her formula,” she says. “You have a
run in your stocking.”

(32 words)

* * *

Ling never sleeps and becomes ineffectual in her job. She’d quit, but they are
sort of broke. Suddenly, she doesn’t know what any of it means. What does
it mean? She asks her co-workers. What are the codes? What are the
procedures? She types a row of question marks, eats prodigiously from a bag
on her desk. Sometimes she closes her eyes and dreams that the baby has
been put back into her stomach. Only now, the baby is a monkey.

(81 words)

* * *

On weekends, she takes the baby for long strolls. Once they’d gone as far as
three miles and the baby got hungry and Ling had forgotten to pack a
bottle. She ran all the way back, bumping over cracks in the sidewalk while
the baby screamed.

(46 words)

* * *

The husband arranges for a babysitter so they can go to a Christmas party. The
party is a Vegas night and they gamble at tables and make small talk with
the husband’s co-workers and their spouses. At the craps table, Ling says
to the older woman next to her, I have a three-month-old. I can’t
believe I’m even here
and the woman offers her a sip of her screwdriver.

(71 words)

* * *

Each working day at dusk, Ling runs into the house and kicks off her sneakers.
She reaches up into her skirt and rolls down the band of her
panty hose and takes the baby from her husband’s lap. She lies on her back,
holding the baby overhead and flies the baby back and forth in her
upstretched arms. She sings:

baby baby
flying all over the world
looking for toys and candy

and the baby smiles and the husband laughs. And the baby’s cheeks droop like
water balloons. And the baby drops drool on Ling’s forehead.

(96 words)

“Baby, Baby” was written as a series of linked micros, with a mosaic structure. It’s one of my favorite ways to tell a story, in short, quick bursts of imagery and episode. The micros could be arranged any way at all and I did shift them around some until it told the story I wanted it to. I think simply rearranging these micros would leave the reader with a different feeling. Originally, the last segment was Ling in the bathroom stall and the last words of the story were “sorry … I’m sorry” and that, I think, creates a much sadder arc. I like the freedom of telling a story in a non-traditional way. And this type of writing is as true to how my mind actually works as anything.

Return to Archive