Cradles the Brain: A Book of Short Tales

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Through the fog, she trudges. Her legs are wet with mud and foul water. Her hair sticks to her face and scalp in clumps. She breathes heavily, finding little recovery in the dense, hot air. Grey surrounds her.

She stomps through the sludge. With each step it thickens, grasping her skin, tugging her further down, slowing her progress. She sinks further, finding herself waist deep. She twists her hips, pushing one leg forward. She turns in place, going nowhere but down. Chest deep in murk and mud, her hands claw forward. Her nails fill with rancid, congealed water but her hands find no purchase. Gritting her teeth, she strains forward.

She sinks further. Up to her neck in it, she gasps for air, the pressure baring her lungs from breath. Her arms reach upwards as her chin sinks in.

A wind picks up. The fog about her moves and dissipates. She watches the shore appear a mere two feet in front of her. She pumps her legs, trying to stay afloat. Her lips fall beneath the surface, filling her gaping mouth with mud. Breathing through her nose, she flails her arms toward shore.

Her skull burns. Sinking further, her nose plugs with murk. Her eyes widen and suddenly she is pulled beneath the surface. Encased in sludge, she spasms. Her lungs pull, forcing mud down her throat. A fire blazes on her brain. Movement ceases. She lays still, her eyes seeing nothing. A white light casts down upon her from above. Her body is pulled out of the sludge.

“It’s a girl!” the doctor calls as he holds up a screaming, pink newborn.

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