cutBaby’s crying again. I know the baby’s crying again. Maybe if I had a little help, maybe if he’d stick around after the sun goes down, maybe if I was somebody else in another body this would be easier.

The baby’s been crying for two weeks and nothing I do helps. All I want is for him to come back now. I know the baby’s crying.

I’ve wrapped myself in my big thrift-store wool coat, right over my nightgown, that’ll keep me warm. I forgot shoes, doesn’t matter. The baby is OK. The baby is in her bed at home, she’s fine. I just have to find him. If I find him everything will be OK, I’ll know better what to do, I just can’t do it on my own, just not right now. No shoes, I forgot shoes. Sidewalk’s cold, it’s late, dark, did he take the car? He didn’t take the car, I can catch him if he’s on the bus I can catch him.

Car won’t start, too cold. Got it. Finally, now we’re going. I’m sure the baby is all right. Just follow the bus route. He must have caught the Geary bus, I know exactly where he’ll go, same bar every time, I know how to find him, how to bring him home.

Driving, been driving for a long time, what time is it? Still dark, following the Geary Street bus, nobody I recognize is getting off, not yet, he won’t get off until he transfers at Van Ness. OK, the baby is fine, the baby is home alone, but she’s fine. It’s dark. I just have to get to Van Ness and Geary.

Parked, bus has pulled away, there he is, he’s here, the baby’s fine. Feet on the sidewalk, cold, shit, dog shit, glass. He doesn’t see me. I walk right up to him, he doesn’t see me. I put my hand on his shoulder, I tug at his coat sleeve, he won’t turn around, doesn’t he know the baby’s home alone, I have to get back, I have to pick him up and get back right away.

He turns and spits in my face and walks away. He stands five feet from me with his back to me. Crowds of people mill past me even though it’s dark, it’s late. Don’t they know the baby is home alone, all alone in her bed?

The Van Ness bus pulls up. He gets in the new bus without turning around. Crowds of people get in the bus behind him. I’ve lost sight of him. I know exactly where he’s going, he always goes to the same bar, I can just get in the car and drive straight there, I’ll beat the bus, I’ll just drive there and pick him up and get home, home to the baby sleeping at home, safe, I’m sure the baby is safe at home in her bed, sleeping. I get back in the car and follow the bus.

Cheryl Diane Kidder has a B.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Her work, nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, has appeared or is forthcoming in CutThroat Magazine, Weber: The Contemporary West, Pembroke Magazine, Tinge Magazine, Identity Theory, In Posse Review, and elsewhere.

Photography by Paul Bilger