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It was wrapped in a blanket; Carol held it in her arms. Its eyes were black. Yellow foam billowed over its lips

She pictured herself on an old steel bridge, brown water swirling below.

The nurse smiled.

What a beautiful boy. An angel. Straight out of heaven.

There could be wires. There could be receivers, devices. Microphones woven into the blanket.

Carol held it in her arms. Behind the walls. Beneath the floor; they could be anywhere. They were clever.

Have you thought of a name.

She shook her head.

I have three girls. Danielle, Ashley and Shawna. I had hoped for a boy. But I love my girls, don’t get me wrong. 

Its eyes were black. Carol pictured herself at the top of a tower, watching it smash like a pumpkin.

I would’ve named him "Ethan". If I'd had a boy. My great-grandfather was named Ethan. It means “long-lived”.

The nurse smiled.

Listen to me. Going on and on. It’s time for your pill anyway.

Carol held it in her arms. It snuffled and snorted. She pictured a large granite rock, and a blade that shined in the sun.

The nurse poured ice water into a cup.

Is this your first?

Carol nodded. She sipped and tossed her head back. 

Oh. Well that explains it then.

There could be cameras. Behind their eyes or in their shoes.

Has it started? Have you seen them yet?

The nurse smiled.

You know what I mean. They’ve started coming, yes? One by one. Like birds that land on power lines. Dark brown bottles marked with crossbones. Flames that could melt the skin like cheese. Oh and they cry, they cry like all love is lost and the pictures churn by. They cry and they need when you’re hard and you’re dry. They need and they cry and the picture show starts, a head on a stick or bones in the ice, they cry and they cry and you can’t make it stop and the pictures are sweet as sugarplum cake.

The nurse smiled. She smoothed the sheets. She fluffed up the pillows.

Carol held it in her arms.

There could be wires. There could be codes and encryptions. There could even be drones, in this day and age.

Listen to me. Going on and on. But I thought you should know. They give you those pills for the afterwards. So the pictures will stop. It’s the chemicals swimming, like sad purple fish. The pills make the fish go belly up.

Carol held it in her arms. Its eyes were black. Its cheeks looked like pieces of overripe fruit.

Listen to me. They’ll keep you here. If the fish are still purple. They’ll keep you here after they float belly up. They’ll keep you here after the picture show’s over. I should know. Mine were all born here. I’ll never leave.

She smiled. Her shoes made sloughing sounds in the hall

Beneath the walls, behind the floor, they could be everywhere, they were clever; Carol held it on her tongue. She swallowed it down without water.

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