Halloween is just around the corner. Here’s a story I wrote years ago after reading an e-mail message someone forwarded me about a serial killer who lured women out of their houses at night with a recording of a crying baby. My story was published in the spring of 2009 in Emerging Voices, a literary journal produced by Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff.
A SERIAL MIRACLE
I woke with a start when I heard the baby cry. I’d been dozing in an arm chair in the living room. I jumped to my feet and stopped short. That wasn’t David. He died a few days earlier. I was the one to find his cold, limp body. Now, I heard a crying baby.
It was late on Halloween. Because I didn’t feel like distributing goodies this year, I hadn’t turned on the front porch light. The baby’s cries came from just outside the front door. My husband Mark was working late. As the cries persisted, I wished he were here.
Was I going crazy? Some women in my situation suffered from delusions that their babies were still alive. The best thing to do was go to bed. I could take a couple of sleeping pills. As I walked into the bedroom, the cries grew fainter. I hurried back into the living room, and the cries became louder. There had to be a baby out there.
Before I could take another step, I remembered something I heard on the ten o’clock news. A serial killer lured women out of their homes with a recording of a baby crying. This didn’t sound like a tape. It was real. I decided to take a chance.
I switched on the porch light and flung open the door. A crying bundle lay a few inches from the open doorway. A cold gust of wind hit me in the face.
“Oh you poor thing. You must be nearly frozen.” I carried the bundle inside and closed the door. The crying stopped.
The infant was wrapped in a thin white blanket. I saw a bald head and blue eyes. How small the baby was. It couldn’t have been more than a few days old. David was three months old when he died. It was a miracle.
I carried the baby into David’s old room and turned on the light. Everything was the same as it was before David’s death. The crib stood against one wall with a changing table next to it. The rocking chair sat by the window. As I laid the infant on the table, I saw a note attached to the blanket. As I unpinned it, the baby whimpered. I carried the infant to the rocker.
“Are you hungry, sweetheart? I’ll get you changed and fed in a minute. I just need to see what this note says.”
Tears filled my eyes, as I read the handwritten message. “Dear Mr. and Mrs. Olson, You don’t know me, but I read about the death of your baby boy in the obituaries. I just had this baby a few days ago, but I’m only sixteen years old, and I can’t take care of her. I think you guys could probably give her a better home so I’m giving her to you. I named her Elizabeth, but you can call her what you want. I hope you like girls. Sincerely, a caring teen mother”
“Honey, I’m home,” called Mark.
“I’m in David’s room.” I rose to my feet, cradling the baby.
Mark appeared in the doorway and gaped in astonishment. “What’s this?”
“Oh Mark, the most wonderful thing has happened. Come and meet our daughter Elizabeth.”