At first sight I thought it was some sort of exceptional moth. I had never seen anything like it. My husband’s best guess was an obscenely large bat. Neither had the ring of truth. I re-heated last night’s supper while we failed at calming each other down. It was all I could think to do. Perched on top of the microwave with its ovular, platinum eyes fixed open, the creature never once moved. I wanted to stop and inspect the down on its marbled wings. The texture of its skin reminded me of a mushroom’s gills. All we could do was chew and stare. Brian asked me sheepishly if we should keep it.
I suggested we call it Baby, short for Babylon. The weight of undying mystery seemed to suit it just fine. All day Baby sat perfectly motionless on our microwave. It became clear Baby needed to soak up a little radiation to survive.
Baby never appeared to actually move so much as generate itself closer and closer. But only if we were looking elsewhere; we rarely were. But Baby was real, and beautiful, and breathed as if its lungs were a circlet of slow-turning blades.
The whirring noise of Baby’s breathing lulled us to sleep. Eventually one of us heard the change in frequency and woke the other. We scampered down the hallway, following the babel. And then we stopped, and we just looked at our Baby, attached always to a window wide wings spread taught, slightly vibrating and loud. Baby was very, very loud.
A small sample of what came through: myself, I believe, as a cackling child, “puella puella puella”, a woman trying to find the perfect key to weep in, a children’s story about a big green lion, one entirely sibilant chorus, an infant crying while a French man spoke in an explanatory tone “le bébé divinité”…
Baby lived up to its name, became precious to us in no time, but we knew better than to share the inconceivable. Since Baby’s arrival, we saw no real reason to leave the house with the exception of the unavoidable trip to market, guaranteed to be stocked with small talk.
We dodged questions flawlessly that might turn around and face us. We performed our politenesses and we tuned in to the chitchat that tapped us on the shoulder, then we went home to Baby. We were anxious and excited, feeling like new recruits in our own home.
Eventually, the music came. It seemed as if Baby had no preference, transitions had no discernible pattern. Schubert was followed by cocktail hour jazz. Whatever the case, we listened and heard like never before. There was no speaker to distort and no mouth to swallow the sound. It was completely pristine. It was as if Baby’s very pores were singing directly into us.
Brian and I had a different reaction to what found its way out of our Baby. The same sound could take him to the ramshackle front porch of his absent father’s farm, while I quietly wept in my fourth grade class after my mother’s first attempt to overrule her body. I sent it away, the knowledge, growing palpable, that Baby was, or could be, merely some sort of conduit. We sheltered with our life the notion that Baby brought a certain trail of wisdom, glittering, and elusive, and valuable because of its defiance of form.
Each night with Baby passed just as the one before like a Halloween-inspired paper-doll chain. The more Baby wailed, the less strange it felt to watch. What held us to Baby was what came through, where it could take us.
In hindsight, it seemed as if all of it had nothing truly to do with us, but at the time it all felt so painfully important: a mule braying in a tunnel for a full three minutes, the tail end of a speech about something called ‘Acorn Theory’.
I looked at Brian one afternoon and hesitated to seek a mirror for myself. His hair hung limp over his eyes, the high notes of his fragrance loitered, his fingernails went above and beyond. Our bodies were boiling over; we were letting ourselves go.
But Baby required absolutely nothing. Keeping Baby secret, interpreting the nocturnal emissions, all of it was intoxicating. And how Baby crawled in, like an old religion, without the promise of sobriety that inevitably follows those kinds of drugs. We have never encountered anything like Baby and I do not believe we ever will. I have forgotten so much now. That will never matter. Baby cast a design over the rest of our days with every night it sang and spoke and prayed to us.
These three months have flown by. Baby comes up between pillows, when we inch closer, sore to the bone, to our newly unbroken sleep. And sometimes again at breakfast, but never during supper. Brian remembers that night like a victim: simultaneously too vividly and not at all. Baby was crying. He woke up. His movement woke me. The house was dark. The light switch was hopeless. Time was stolen from every appliance. I remember all of that. I remember just as well the next morning, and all we had left. An open window. A breeze. Silence.
nyoka eden is a writer and intuitive consultant. Her writing has been featured in Arcturus, Maudlin House, APARTMENT Poetry, and Witch Craft Magazine, among others. More information can be found on her website nyoka.cargo.site and on Instagram @nyoka.eden.