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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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