Fear Baby

Alan fled New Brunswick and his peo­ple there ear­ly last spring, fled their ven­omous cuisine and their aim­less hump­ing, their fid­dle­heads and their home­made maple rum that inflamed even the old­est of turds to fits of pri­apic square-danc­ing and, lat­er, rut­ting again­st the cor­ner of the bar ; he fled his moth­er, who had con­vinced her­self it was her shy­ness and crip­pling pas­siv­i­ty that drove Alan’s father to walk into the sea, and who, after hav­ing found the need to “ideate” a new life for her­self, sat down one evening in Feb­ru­ary, shut her eyes, and imag­ined a dar­ling baby, “a beau­ti­ful baby all my own” (Alan found that par­tic­u­lar­ly galling), a baby not made of skin and bone but of fear and anx­i­ety, bun­dled and swad­dled just like a real baby, ten­der and needy just like a real baby, the idea being that car­ing for her fear baby would help her come to terms with her weak­ness rather than let it shame her as it had all her life, which seemed to make sense to Alan, except after a few nights of this, he found his moth­er in her chair, red-faced and groan­ing, her hands crush­ing each oth­er in her lap, and it didn’t take a genius to fig­ure out she was chok­ing the ever lov­ing shit out of her fear baby, which now she was call­ing Alan ; but most of all, he left Monc­ton because Veronique wasn’t ever going to come back.

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