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I Am Santo

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Eddie couldn’t find his friend, the father, and searched the room of strangers – some with familiar faces – but most with blank faces that looked to him like extras in a rotten movie about love. He wanted to hold the baby. The need dug deep in him and the child looked so much like his old friend that Eddie was taken aback when he first saw those new eyes, because they appeared old, as did the skin, ruddy from the agitation of being removed from his mother’s body, a rash of sorts all over its allegedly newborn face. And so Eddie held the crying child, took him from the bassinet and held him over his shoulder, patting his back gently as the cries wailed and the extras looked on with their expressionless eyes. And soon the child soothed, the ragged breaths of sobbing yielding to more even breathing with hiccups of residual upset tensing his tiny body. And Eddie looked for his friend, but didn’t care really because this was the moment he wanted, with the child, to calm and connect. He remembered doing this with his own son years earlier and while those moments had been so difficult, his back still rigid and aching due to the tension of trying to satisfy the demands of his baby, nostalgia leaked into him and he felt a longing, as if the ordeal was a lost limb he could still feel attached to him. From around the corner came his friend, the father and they smiled easily at one another. He could see Eddie had the baby under control, but he reached out his hands to take his son anyhow and Eddie briefly felt a moment of reluctance to let him go. Then he did so. Just as you always do with children; hold and let go. Just as Eddie had done with his wife, his home, his life. Hold and let go. He watched his friend hold the quited baby and that sweep of nostalgia curdled in his stomach and chest. Eddie thought about the empty rooms of his house and how his hair had grayed and fallen out too much to start again. (at Empty Houses)

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