The Baby Store
November 8, 2011 § 1 Comment
Kim and Cindy, they opened the parlor in 1987 when Kim got pregnant. They started calling it the Baby Store because all of the money they made went into a shoebox for the unborn child. Kim’s boyfriend, he was a fishmonger and he was white. Cindy didn’t like him because he smelled like yesterday’s lunch, but really it was because his skin looked like dried Pollack and bugeoguk was her favorite meal so it was like he was constantly ruining her appetite with his race.
But it didn’t matter because the parlor was no place for a man. Kim didn’t even tell him where it was, even after the baby was born and the baby spent every day with his mother. And if Kim was out buying Acetone or pumice, Cindy had the baby in the laundry basket rocking back and forth, warm towels, folded, toss the baby’s socks in for good measure.
The parlor was really no place for a baby either but Kim had no choice. The fishmonger left her for a light-haired girl from Arkansas who worked behind the counter at a chowder stand at the pier. Kim never saw her, but Cindy did. Cindy’s entire face was pursed when she rolled into the parlor after lunch, telling Kim this and that but Kim couldn’t listen. The baby was biting her nipple because she was dry. No milk, only blood.
And that’s how it was for a long time. Cindy had to buy Kim the powder formula with the blue-eyed baby on the box. The baby got fat on the powder and it made Kim cry. It made Kim feel separate from the baby, and it showed. Mother’s milk is the only thing free about a baby’s life and she couldn’t even have that.
The shoebox was dark inside and the salon was a dark place to be. No electricity because the money went to feeding the fat baby. The baby fussed with only two meals a day but it was all Kim could do and the customers never come back. So Cindy started working as a maid for a white family in the financial district. They paid her 6.50 an hour with an additional stipend for groceries. She was also the caretaker for the two kids, and all they ever wanted was cola and sweet rolls so she took the rest to Kim at the end of each day.
March fifteenth, don’t want to remember that day but Cindy keeps seeing it in the news. Cindy comes back to the salon to pick up the baby so Kim can get sleep before the baby goes home. Open the door, lights on. Baby on the linoleum, screaming hard with his eyes closed. Legs hanging out of the bathroom, so Cindy walks through and sees Kim. Drunk acetate, powder all over her face, in her mouth, dried up around her lips. All white. All milk. No blood.