Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Little House (A Short Story)

(I wrote the following short, short story a couple of years ago. I thought you might get a kick out of it. I had a big, bald head when I was born so I included a photo of me that was taken when I looked a little better).


In January of 1949, I poked my head out of my familiar world into a new and very different one. My scalp cringed in the cold air and my eyes squinted at the light. That was enough. I wanted to go back inside. To my dismay, no one asked me what I wanted. Instead, I was tugged and squeezed until my shoulders, arms, legs and all the rest of me appeared.

The noises, the voices, the hustle and bustle swirled around me. Again, I wanted to duck back inside, but nobody gave me the option. I didn’t realize that no one who pokes his head out of the womb ever returns to that safe haven where he lived and thrived for nine months. When it’s time to be born, you just plain are.

I wasn’t sure about this strange world I’d come into. I was tempted to grab the umbilical cord like a bungee rope in my hands and to swing down and away. Instead, I postponed that stunt. Years later, I plummeted in a downward spiral and found myself dangling by a thread. That’s another story.

Back to January of ‘49, after Mom rested for a few days in the hospital, Dad brought her and me home. When we arrived at Elmwood Avenue, I was whisked inside. Winter in Wisconsin is not welcoming to a newborn or anyone else for that matter. The house I was brought into was twenty feet wide by twenty feet long. Honestly, I had expected more.

When I crossed the threshold, I assumed I had entered the foyer. I’d been eavesdropping from Mom’s tummy when she read books aloud before I was born. The stories of princesses in huge castles and handsome couples dancing in beautiful mansions had filled my head with grandiose expectations. This dwelling, my home, resembled that of the old woman who lived in a shoe. In time, I came to realize that this was the best my father could do when he built this house four years before I made my grand entrance.

There wasn’t much to see inside this tiny square box of a house; I took it all in with a slight turn of my head. I scowled as I pondered my situation. Just how would Mom, Dad and I get along in such close quarters? As I wrestled with this whole mess, Mom laid me in a cradle and covered me with a blanket.

After a short nap, I looked up, blinked my eyes and saw two smiling eyes blinking right back at me.

“Hi,” the eyes said, staring at me in wonder as I stared right back. I didn’t know it then, but the eyes belonged to my brother Tommy. My tiny mind balked, once again. Would these walls soon burst off their foundation with four of us squeezed inside this cracker box?

“I want to see her,” I heard from a second young person. Two small hands appeared on the edge of the cradle and a face peeked at me for just a second and then it was gone.

"Stop jumping, Bobby. You're bumping the cradle," Mom said.

“I have to see her,” the hands on the cradle seemed to say. Presently, Mom held the little fellow up above the side of the cradle. This was brother number two, Bobby. I rolled my eyes, as I added one more to the running total. I counted on my fingers and then recounted on my toes. Anyway I figured, it still added up to five people in 400 square feet of house. My face grew red and I grunted in disbelief. What were Mom and Dad thinking back in April of 1948? Did they even consider the possibility, that nine months later, I would be waltzing in? And besides that, where were my beautiful gowns and glass slippers?

I wanted to kick my legs and wave my arms in frustration, but I feared I might clobber somebody or something. I wasn’t born yesterday. For Pete’s sake, I was already five days out of the uterus. Even so, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to know that frantic movements could easily spell disaster in these elbow-to-elbow conditions.

After a bottle and a burp, I realized that my wondering was escalating to worrying--advanced thinking for a newborn (even one of my caliber). Annoyed and weary, I closed my eyes and dreamed of how simple life used to be.


Anonymous said...

Auntie Babe says , you were a Doll than and you are a Doll now.
I love that story as I have told you before.

Sarah said...

Oh this is one of my favorites Shaddy!!! I'm so glad you posted it here. It makes me smile, smile, smile. (and giggle too) What a great way to start the day! As you already know, I love - ADORE - your way with words - clever, cute, smart and FUN.

The picture is so adorable! I haven't seen it before. What a beautiful little girl!

Mary Anne Gruen said...

"I was tempted to grab the umbilical cord like a bungee rope in my hands and to swing down and away."

"The house I was brought into was twenty feet wide by twenty feet long. Honestly, I had expected more."

I love it! A very enjoyable voice and story.

Walk said...

Very good, Princess, you weaved a great tale to tell, and even sell. Ya made me smile.

darkened_jade said...

This is such a cute story, and I think you have the characters attitude just right. It never once occured to me to question that a newborn would think in such very sophisticated tones, it just worked so perfectly. My absolute favourite line: "For Pete’s sake, I was already five days out of the uterus."

Very nicely done, and thanks for letting me know you had posted this.

Beth W. said...

I tried to post a comment last night, but with dilated pupils from an eye exam, I apparently pushed (or didn't push!) the right button.

First -- I'm happy to report the busted link to my blog is fixed, thanks to you. The Typepad folks did the necessary repair work, and I see it's finally updating!

I love the "voice" in your story -- don't think I've read a birth experience from the point of view of the baby. And such a personality-loaded baby, too. I also enjoyed the way you provided so much information about the house, the big brother, and the place in time via the baby's thought bubbles.

Like Walk, I think you should submit this. Have you thought about where?

Annie said...

This is great! 'When it's time to be born, you just plain are.' That stuck with me. I think birth is the big way to be born! But as life is lived, every step we are born again and reborn. And sometimes, we just plain are...wonderful story!

K.M. Weiland said...

This is great, Shaddy! Quite the precocious newborn, you were! Seriously, whatever your "intent" may be, I think you can definitely do something with this. It's fresh, original, and has a great voice. In fact, I'm already envisioning the possibilities of a whole novel told from Baby Shaddy's witty POV!

Gullible said...

Hang on, Shaddy. I'll be by to comment on this delightful story, but right now the sun is shining and there's litter to be picked and lawns to be mowed and a travel trailer to ready for my upcoming trip to Homer and Halibut Cove and, oh, so many things to write about.


Wow this is terrific!
I just wish my English language was complete then I could tell what's my real feeling about your story. but I'm in a shortage of words!

and thank you so much for your sweet comments!

Anonymous said...

This is the perfect place for that short story! You were just the cutest baby--I adore that picture!

Way to go, Sweetie!

Rob said...

I really enjoyed this Shaddy! It really took me back to simpler times to be sure. It's funny how that life has such humble beginnings and soon explodes into a hurricane of to-do lists, mortgages, job hunting, child-rearing and budget balancing. Looking back, like this, is good for all of us. Thanks!

Heather said...

Wonderful story, Shaddy! :-) It really does make ya think about what's important or rather 'who' is important in our lives. Also the angle of the story from the babe is just awesome. Makes me wonder what Bella hears and is thinking about now and what her thoughts will be in 3 months when we're able to hold her in our arms. Thanks for the post!

I am Alive said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
I am Alive said...

I am Alive said...
Wow.. I love your story... Well, I never thought from Baby's point of view yet.. It's a very innovative concept.. I am loving it. You this story made me all Smile, Smile and Smile...
Keep it up Shaddy !
and Thanks for your supportive comments :)

Anonymous said...

This is great! I love the baby's perspective, especially being disappointed by the small quarters after hearing about castles. So cute.