Baby in the Bathtub
There is a baby drowning in my bathtub, but that is about all I know about that. I don't know the baby's name, or to whom the baby belongs, or any of that. I'm not even certain if the baby is actually drowning or simply trying to get my attention. If it is trying to get my attention, well, I'd like to tell it good luck -- I'm not budging, not from this chair or this newspaper -- but that would mean giving it my attention, which I will not do. Let it splash and scream. I have a strong reading focus.
I'm sorry if it seems to you that I am a callous man, and perhaps I am, but I simply refuse to be manipulated anymore by some teething thing that keeps slipping in and out of the house from god knows where. I have shut and sealed every window and door. I have nailed the attic door closed and there are twenty-three rat traps at the basement entrance. Still, somehow, this baby manages to get inside my home and now it's drowning in the bathtub. So what am I supposed to do? Drop what I'm doing anytime the baby submerges itself in the bath, or chews hungrily on the lamp's electrical cord with its soft little gums? Once, I found this mysterious baby dangling precariously from the chandelier. My heart raced at this sight, and, this was early on, so I grabbed a step ladder and pulled it down before its stubby fingers gave out, but I could not understand how it had gotten itself up there. And who do you think filled the bath with water in the first place? This baby is resourceful. I am certain it will pull itself out of the tub after it gets bored. Or perhaps it will drown. I don't know.
I asked my sister a few days ago if she had ever had similar problems with babies in the house. "I've never had that happen," she said, folding her husband's laundry. When pressed for a solution, she suggested that maybe the baby was trying to tell me something, perhaps something about repressed guilt or my lost childhood. "You know," she said, "you always were wound up." So, the next day, after finding the baby excitedly waving a large chef's knife on my kitchen counter, I regulated my breathing and tried reasoning with it, to get it to make its message clear, if it had one. "What do you want?" I asked, closing in on the baby, my arms outstretched before me to catch the blade before it could do damage to either of us, but the baby wouldn't respond. "Is there something you'd like to say? Put down the knife and we'll talk." And then it began to bawl, right there on the counter beside the burners and pans. (It does not like to be ignored, nor does it like to be reasoned with. Both will cause it to cry.) Although this did afford me the opportunity to quickly grab the knife away, its cries were very loud and obnoxious, and the little thing escaped out of the room on hands and knees to wherever it goes, leaving me a nervous wreck -- I saw it round a corner, but then it was gone -- and I did not have the chance to question it further.
The baby first made its presence in the bathtub known shortly after I'd arrived home from work earlier this evening. I found it staring, cooing, up at me from beneath a still sheet of water, its refracted image disturbed only by the occasional air bubble passing from between its tiny blue lips. The image would waver and then return, the baby's eyes always locked with mine. My first reaction was to grab it, to pull it to safety before it would begin inhaling water. But I stopped, took a deep breath. That would be playing its game. Instead, I stepped backwards to the wall, felt for the door, and lead myself out into the hall that way. It was shortly after that that it started to scream.
I have concluded that the baby has no message, but only seeks to torment me, to ruin my emotional state, so, for that reason, I will allow it to have its fun in the bathtub until it is bored and decides to scurry off and leave me in peace. I will sit here and read. Although, I do not like the idea of a dead baby in the bathtub. That would somewhat spoil that room, don't you think? And those shrieks are quite annoying. They cut right down along my spine. It certainly would be hard to explain away if the neighbors heard. A bit more trouble than I'd probably want. Perhaps I will go and save that baby just this one last time. But this is the end.
About the author:
Dennis DiClaudio is an editor for Ducky Magazine.