The phone rings. I flush the toilet. I hurry up and wash my hands. I grab the cordless from the bedroom, as not to wake the sleeping baby.
“Hi, Jenny. It’s me. I’m running a little late, but I’m on my way. I should be there no later than five,” the mother says.
“That’s fine! He’s just sleeping like a baby. I doubt he’ll even wake up by the time you get here,” I say.
“Oh, that’s good! He’s such a good baby, isn’t he? Well, I’ll let you go. See you soon! Bye!”
“Bye!” I say. I hang up the phone and return to where the baby sleeps in the living room. I’m picking up his toys, making sure not to set off the ones that make noise.
“Hi, I’m Elmo! What’s your name?” I hear. It’s that damn motion-activated Elmo again. I hate that thing. I swear, it goes off at the strangest times. Luckily, the baby is still asleep. I don’t even hear him move. I put all the toys into the big reusable tote bag that the mother left here.
I walk to the kitchen. I open the fridge and reach for the gallon of water. I pour myself a tall glass and drink the whole thing. I put it back into the fridge. Some kids are playing outside. I watch them from my combined living/dining room, and close the windows because it’s getting cold and the kids are too loud. They might wake up the baby.
I walk over to the playpen, where the baby sleeps, but he’s not there. I turn around and start ransacking the apartment. I check behind the sofa, under the dining table, in the kitchen cabinets. I check all of the rooms, but the baby’s not there. He’s not anywhere. I notice that the front door is open, and I run into the hall of my apartment building. The baby has escaped.
I spot him crawling precariously close to the two sets of stairs on the other end of the hallway. I run to grab him before he falls, but he climbs upstairs instead. So, I follow him. He won’t stop crawling and I’m afraid that he’ll fall through to the basement. But I can’t grab him. I keep crawling behind him up the creaky steps. He looks back at me and smiles. A little laugh escapes his lips. He turns around and continues crawling. I am so close, but for some reason I can’t catch him.
And then, the baby falls. He slides through the opening in the steps, right down to the basement. It happens quickly. The wind takes him. I brace myself and look down, but he’s not there. Such a peaceful descent, and he’s gone again, taken, missing—without even a whimper to wake a sleeping sitter. The phone rings.