Awakened Out of a Profound Connubial-bucolic Coma
Early one morning my wife sat up with a start, taking a couple of my extremities with her on the ascent. It was nowhere near time to get up, and I could not imagine what had aroused her prematurely from her profound connubial-bucolic coma (the technical term for our nocturnal state).
“Did you hear that?” she asked excitedly.
“Hear what?” I responded, with less enthusiasm.
“A baby is crying.”
Had a rutting moose bellowed in my ear, I might have twitched.
Now, I had two objections to this proposition. First, I never heard anything before 5:00 AM. Had a rutting moose bellowed in my ear, I might have twitched. Had a Cessna crashed in our flower bed, I might have rolled over. But a crying baby would not have induced the firing of even a single synapse.
And there was no baby. This fact constituted my second objection. We had not produced one, or surely we would have realized it. So it was not our baby. My wife was not technically wrong. Indeed, a baby was crying somewhere–in Thailand, perhaps, or in Liechtenstein or in the hospital nursery twenty miles down the road–but not in our house or on our farm or anywhere nearby.
“I’m telling you I heard a baby crying. It sounds like it’s outside–there! Did you hear that? It is a baby–I’m sure of it!”
I heard it that time. It was neither the call of the diaper nor the call of the breast, both of which we would later come to recognize all too well. Instead, it was a plaintive sound borne of sorrow or loneliness or grief–all emotions still foreign to newborns.
My wife was already pulling on her jeans when I concluded she was right. Of course she was right! She was a young woman, wired to hear the sounds of babies in the night even though she had none of her own. I heaved the blankets aside and together we went outside to find the mysterious infant.
It was lying next to the fence across the lane from our bedroom window. Someone had laid it in the tall grass, naked and trembling. It bawled when it saw us, though we couldn’t tell if it was from fright or relief. In the beam of my flashlight, its pleading eyes blinked up at us, defying us to resist it.
It turned out to be a she, and I had to admit she was the cutest kid I’d ever seen. But then we hadn’t had many goats in the suburbs.