077. In the Ditch. Sinéad Delaney

I found a dead baby when I was playing hide and seek. It was blue and its eyes were bulging out. There were flies eating at it. My stomach heaved. I thought I was going to vomit, but I didn’t. I ran out to my Mammy and told her and she rushed out. I was surprised she believed me.

She saw the corpse and froze. Then, she screamed at us all to get inside. I don’t know why she did that. Maybe she thought it was dangerous. I felt it too, but I didn’t know why. It couldn’t hurt me.

I was disgusted with myself for a thought that entered my mind. I was thinking the baby would get more love now that it’s dead. When people die, it’s all what could have been. I realised that people were scary, the way their thoughts worked.

My Mammy was frantic on the phone and she wouldn’t let me hear what she was saying. Later she hugged me and sobbed. ‘Oh, my poor baby, having to see that.’ She was sadder about me seeing it than she was about the baby, because she knew me, and she could see it clearer.

I couldn’t sleep that night, because I kept picturing the bulging eyes, and my stomach kept lurching. Mammy understood and let me sleep in her bed with her and my Dad. She stroked my hair and said ‘poor baby’ again, even though she wasn’t talking about the baby.

The guards had come and I didn’t see what they did with the corpse. I think they couldn’t find who it belonged to. My Mammy said they asked her how old it was and she said she didn’t know.

I kept replaying the scenes I saw, even though they were upsetting me, because I was scared the images would fade, and the dead baby would be offended.

People are scary, the way their minds work.

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