Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ben's Baby

You’re a struggling musician who is playing small clubs on a summer tour across the country and who generally sleeps in your van. But one night, in a small town in (fill in the blank), a concertgoer offers to let you sleep on his/her couch. You take the offer, but by morning you regret it. Write a story that explains what happens.
Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.
Ben's Baby
I met her at my show. Brown hair, ivory skin, and deep, red lips upturned into a friendly smile. She was a wisp of a thing, but with a big, bubbly personality to make up for it. That's why it was so easy for her to persuade me to stay the night—on her couch—instead of in my freezing van.
Her house was cozy and inviting, the image of southern comfort. Sliding me a cup of tea, she took a seat across from me.
“Are you comfortable, Ben?”
My words slurred in response and her smile got bigger. She seemed to sashay to my side, growing more graceful the more incoherent I became. With a jolt, I realized she was tying my hands behind my back.
“What...why are...you?” My words died off in a garble.
Her expression changed; her lips down turned and her eyes wild.
“We've missed you, Ben.”
I stared at her in confusion.
“You said you'd come back.” Her next words came out in an explosion of rage, making me cringe in my chair. “But you left us to die, Ben! You left your baby to die!”
“Baby.” The word came out sounding broken, like a child learning the word for the first time.
“Yes, Ben, your baby. You threw just him away like trash.”
Then, with sudden jerky movements, she stomped out of the room, leaving my mind reeling.
When she returned, she was cradling a swaddled infant close to her.
“See, Ben?”
Her voice was soft, as she held the baby out.
“Isn't he beautiful?”
A gasping noise was wrenched from my lips as I looked at the baby. He was a pale white color, with a waxy sheen on his newborn face. He lay in the blankets, stiff and still. Too still.
She pursed her lips in an over exaggerated pout.
“What, Ben, don't like the sight of your own son?”
But it was the opposite. I couldn't tear my eyes away, silently willing the child to move, breathe, cry—anything.
“That's not my child,” I said, desperation seeping into my voice. “And my name is not Ben!”
She stepped away from me, dropping the baby with a thud. She didn't even register that she dropped him, simply stared at me with wide, child-like eyes.
It was the knock on the door that snapped her out of it. She seemed to transform, turning back into the bubbly girl I met earlier.
“Howdy, Sheriff Dawes,” she said, practically cooing at the man.
“Evening, Madison. The neighbors heard yelling. I had to make sure you didn't have another poor sap in here.”
She didn't get a chance to respond. He strode into the room and untied me, his eyes never leaving Madison.
“You've got to stop doing this! I can't keep covering for you.”
Her lips tilted into a triumphant smile at his words.
“Of course I can, Ben. How else would I get you here to see your son?”
It wasn't until I passed him on my way out the door that I saw his name tag fashioned on his shirt.
Sheriff Ben Dawes.


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