CRIMSON AND CLOVER
Baby hair stuck up through the mulch, feathery blond tufts, dammit. Millie tossed her rose clippers down and yanked him out of the ground like a turnip. The boy remained still and gray even after the mud was scooped from his mouth. But when she snipped the roots, freeing the carcass for the trash can, he howled like a storm.
In the kitchen, the greedy thing drank half a bottle of liquid houseplant food from the dropper. She lay him in an inch of water in the sink to keep him moist. He kicked his twiggy legs.
Bring me a big flowerpot, would you? She called to Jack, since by then she was thawing ground beef in the pan.
Christ on a cracker, Millie. Not another one.
What do you want me to do about it? She said. She’d told him the place was built on the old Woodstock field but he just had to have it anyway.
Dirty hippies, he said as if reading her mind.
You got that right. See if there’s any more potting soil out there too, would ya?
Jack potted the new dirt baby while Millie fixed Hamburger Helper.
Late nights, they sneak a few babies onto the neighbors’ porches.
They awake to a few of the neighbors’ babies on theirs.
The little ones need their soil changed often and to be fed by hand. The older ones hop around the garden nibbling the plants down to nubs with their lipless mouths. They howl when they’re hungry. They’re always hungry. They give no love. It’s all me, me, me.
Carly Berg is a dark cloud hovering over sunny Houston. Her stories appear in several dozen journals and anthologies, including PANK, Word Riot, Bartleby Snopes, JMWW and Stupefying Stories. She can be found here: www.carlyberg.com.