loved being praised. She excelled at nearly everything she did. She didn’t
talk much in front of strangers, but in private she said the most fanciful
things. BRB felt self-conscious in front of the child, occasionally. She felt
boring and careless.
“What the fuck do you want?” BRB hissed. Then she looked at her
daughter and smiled.
“It’s a surprise,” the man said.
She thought of all the possible things. The blood and blackest things.
BRB began to whimper.
“Please,” she said.
“Aw, please what?” the man said. His voice was friendlier than it had
been moments before. “Why aren’t you a happy lady? Look at this baby
girl you got here. I never seen a prettier child. You know it was the kid
I saw first. I saw her and you walking together in the town, only your
face was all covered up with a hat and scarf but the kid’s was exposed
to the elements. Pink cheeks and blue eyes like an angel. And first thing
I thought was, the momma must be a stunner, behind all that. Second
thing I thought was, how come the momma’s face is all covered up but
the kid’s exposed that way. I like selfish women, Margo. I like them the
“My name is not Margo!”
“Hey, I know that. Listen. In about four miles you’re gonna take a
right onto Fishkill Road, you hear? You’re gonna make it a fast right,
you’re not gonna slow down much. If you do anything that makes me
nervous, my hand is gonna shake. I got shaky hands.”
He twisted the knife around. BRB prayed that the child would not
look up. She imagined this dark sick body fucking her while her child
watched, and then she imagined the opposite. Sometimes when she and
the child were cuddling at night on the floor beside the crib, BRB would
roll over onto the kid, playing at smothering her. She could never do it
for long before she felt the smallness of the thing beneath her. A doll
with the bones of a pigeon.
BRB left her old job with the gross boss and got a new one, with a grosser
boss. She was dissolute by then. She was still responsible about getting to
work on time, but she drank a lot and ate little, Mentos and hard-boiled
eggs. The new job was more than advertorials; there was some design
involved. It paid more, which made her feel powerful. She didn’t need
the money. She had a big brick house to sell in the suburbs. She didn’t