January Flash Fiction: The Baby Thief by Ifediba Zube

The Baby Thief
Ifediba Zube

She parades the ward butt naked with her IV tree. The smell of decayed blood and liquor oozes from her, overpowering the smell of Purit, bath soap and air freshener. There is an unusual gathering of blood thirsty mosquitoes tonight.

She is a troublemaker, this one. In labour she couldn’t keep still. She stood, she squatted, she yanked out the urethral catheter, and slapped Dr. Ody on the face. During the delivery she refused to open her legs and put her butt on the bed. To our horror, her mother tried massaging her abdomen with both elbows.

It’s a skill she learnt from a TBA, folks ignorant of the mechanism and rhythm of childbirth. For them it’s external pressure and brute force. I wonder why our women favour their services, only to troop in here with obstructed labour, hemorrhage and foetal death.

When the macerated boy came out, she gaped in shock, then burst in a howl so primal and guttural.

She hovers round a baby cot. A pink new born sleeps inside: pretty, long lashed, a product of good ANC.

I watch as she touches the cot lightly. She murmurs to the baby and tries to put her finger through the baby’s fisted palm. She looks mad. I will keep a good eye on this one.

I go to the next room to check a folder and when I return she  is gone. And so is the baby. I raise an alarm.

Ifediba Zube writes from the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital Nigeria. When she is not neck deep in clinical postings she is in hiding with a good book. She has been published in Kalahari Review, Expound Magazine of Arts and Aesthetics, Brilliant Flash Fiction, the Voices Project and Windmill Journal.