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Please

“Listen! Can you hear that?”
The man awoke with a slight start and glanced at the clock on the side table. “It’s 2:17, Laurie.”
“Shhh! Listen! Can’t you hear it?”
“Hear what?”
“It…it sounds like someone crying.” His wife was sitting upright in the bed, her head tilted towards the open window where the spring breeze teased the heavy velvet curtains. “Can’t you hear it?” she said again.
He propped himself up on one elbow, listening. “It’s probably from a long ways off. The wind’s carrying it.”
“No,” she said firmly. “Listen. It sounds like it’s just outside, or down the street, even. I wonder what’s wrong.”
He groped for his glasses on the side table. “I’m gonna get something to eat downstairs.”
“Shhh! Stop making so much noise! Oh, listen! I know what it is now…it sounds like a baby.”
“A baby? For God’s sake, Laurie…why don’t you just say it’s a ghost, even?”
She grabbed the sleeve of his t-shirt. “Can’t you hear it? I wonder what’s wrong with it.”
“I hear it, I hear it. Probably some brat screaming from a nightmare or something. You want anything from the kitchen?”
“I wonder why its parents aren’t taking care of it.”
“They’re probably trying to sleep, like me.”
“I wonder,” she said softly. “I wonder if it even has any parents. It’s crying so…strangely. It sounds more sad than upset. Like it’s pleading…or something…”
“Pleading? For what?”
She was silent for a long time, listening. Then, very quietly, “Zack?”
“What?”
“Do you remember when you and I agreed never to have kids? Do you remember?”
“Why?”
“I was just wondering…that’s all.”
“Yeah, I remember.”
“We agreed that we would never cross each other’s side of the bed, unless one of us was…protected. Do you remember that?”
“Yes, Laurie.”
She turned and pulled off the glasses he had clumsily positioned on his forehead. “I want you to come over to my side, now. Please, Zack.”
He stared at her. “Laurie, I think you should just go back to sleep now.”
“I can’t—not with that poor little thing crying out there. Please—just for a little while.”
“I’ll go get a condom, then.”
“No, Zack—I don’t want one. I just want you. Please.”
He closed his eyes, listening to the sound as it wailed and changed pitch on the wind. He faced her again. “I don’t think I understand.” He turned his body on the bed, edging away from her. “I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t want to hurt us. Honestly, Laurie—you hear some kid howling out there and you want to throw away everything we’ve worked for.”
“I don’t care about all that anymore.” She threw back the covers and he saw a flash of water on her cheek. “I’m tired of all the lies, the pills, the arguments…I’m sick of being this sterilized little…doll…for you to play with. You don’t want all of me. You never wanted all of me.”
“Laurie, I only wanted to protect you.”
“From what? My own body? Are you so afraid of what I’m supposed to do—bear your children?”
She grasped his hand and pulled, and he rolled on top of her. The tiny digital clock on the side table blinked 2:30, then 3:30, then 4:30.
They lay in bed together, watching the sun appear in a thin red line outside the window.
“I don’t hear it any more,” he said.
“No,” she said. “We stopped it, thank God.”
“It was a real baby, then—not a ghost.”
“Yes, it was a real baby. A baby crying to be born. We stopped it, Zack.”
“Yeah,” he said softly. “We stopped it.”



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