Flash Fiction: for writers, readers, editors, publishers, & fans


Flash Craft: Lessons from CL Bledsoe’s “The Baby”

First, read CL Bledsoe's "The Baby" which originally appeared in elimae and appears below with the permission of the author.


The Baby
CL Bledsoe

We killed the baby with our teeth. We killed it with questions about God. We killed the baby and sold its unused diapers to transients. We killed the baby so we could sleep. The baby wasn't ours. We killed someone else's baby. The baby's real parents paid us to kill it. The baby wasn't real. We were real, though. We had a cashier's check to prove it. We kept it in her purse until we could make it to the bank. We buried the baby under our porch. We planted bushes around our porch. The bushes died. We killed the bushes by not fertilizing them properly. Babies don't make good fertilizer. This was our lesson. This was what we learned.


Talk about the astonishment of first lines. Talk about what Jen Pieroni calls the "smart surprise." The baby killed with teeth, questions about God, for its unused diapers—and then for sleep. That "truth" though gets immediately denied: "The baby wasn't ours." And now the repetition of the real: real parents, unreal baby, the reality of the "we," that rarely seen POV, first person plural. From the kill to the real to that cashier's check, buried in the purse, the baby under the porch, the porch surrounded by bushes, the bushes dead, murdered, improperly fed with dead babies.


I'm tempted to delete this reading of "The Baby." It isn't real. That's my lesson, what I learned. It doesn't need me. It's a wondrous thing all by itself.


For further reading, check out FlashFiction.Net's suggested readings of flash fiction and prose poetry collections, anthologies, and craft books, by clicking here.

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