• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 12
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She weighed the baby, as she did every morning, at 7am.
    Last night she had woken sweating, scrambled out of bed and went to the cot, put her hand under the baby’s nose, then brought it to bed with her, even though she knew she wasn’t supposed to do that. She drifted back to sleep, with her arm flung out, hand on the little chest, feeling its squirrel heart insist on itself.
    Her husband, before she’d asked him to leave, had set up cameras in the baby’s room, and in the whole house, to help her anxiety. But she’d moved its cot to her bedroom anyway. And now that didn’t feel close enough.
    She checked the weighing scales. The baby was the perfect weight: 14lbs.
    The baby was weighed every morning, to ensure that everything was as it was supposed to be. This morning the baby was scowling, as usual. It had brown tufty hair that formed little sideburns by each ear, and dark blue-black furious eyes, like Abraham Lincoln. The only time the baby didn’t scowl was when it was in the blue weighing harness, swinging away, stretching its plump little legs out, reaching with its fingers for the window, at the peak of its parabola, as if expecting each time, it would grow wings and zoom off, out over the hills.
    She picked it up, kissed the top bit in its skull that hadn’t hardened. The baby squirmed and cried, but she held it tighter, squeezed, said shush, and its little muscles went floppy.
    It didn’t want to feed, but she turned its cheek to her nipple, and eventually it took. Mothers online swore by formula, but she wanted to be natural. Proper. They spent the day together – every day together – she kept it strapped to her chest in a sling like a broken arm. It mostly slept, but every now and then it would wake up, and shoot her a presidential look of disapproval.



Before bed, she kissed it one hundred times on its head. For once, she slept peacefully, her arm flung out again to know it was breathing. She slept so well, was so sure of the baby’s safety, everything was perfect.
    And so when in the morning she woke to find the baby, gone, it wasn’t only grief and fear that seized her, but also self-hatred – that she’d allowed herself to get complacent, to relax for one second.
    She turned the house upside down, screaming. Her husband arrived, with the police. She told them what happened: a thief in the night, who wanted her perfect baby.
    But the camera footage showed something different. Impossible. They watched it together, the policemen sipping coffees. A little white blob, crawling before it was supposed to be crawling, sliding off the edge of the bed, making its way out into the hallway, through the cat-flap, and across the garden, to the gate that was always left open, and out onto the rolling green hills.