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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

# 53 (NPR's Three-Minute Fiction, Round 9)

In the dream the child was all grown up, looking like one of the grandparents, although Dana couldn't say which. The close-cropped salt-and-pepper hair was Jean’s certainly, although the executive suit with the number 53 stitched in blue and gold on the lapel was fitted to Remy's trim build. Dana shook her head and reached for the baby, who was damp and hungry.
"How dare I have you looking like some of old fart?" she said as she bent to whisper against the child's belly. "You looked so serious, though, like the weight of the world was on your shoulders." She looked up. "Kind of like you do now, in fact." She blew air through her lips to make the baby chortle.
"That's better." Dana settled onto the couch to nurse. "The room you were in looked familiar, but it wasn't home." She clicked the mp3 remote and the Grand Theft Orchestra kicked in. "Not anyone's home that I know."
After two songs, Dana put the baby over her shoulder and patted to the rhythm of Trout Heart Replica until she got a resounding burp, so loud that it made them both laugh. She changed breasts and now the baby began toying with the buttons of Dana's shirt, her oddly long fingers pressing each button purposefully. It was then that Dana took notice:
"You're going to be a lefty, aren't you?"
The baby continued to suckle, pressing the buttons as if in some kind of code.
Dana leaned her head back and thought of the dream again. Her grown-up, grandmotherly daughter was standing with a bunch of suits in a room that was formal and elegant; bright, with a fireplace and a painting of George Washington over the mantelpiece.
"It's so strange to think of you being grown up, being older than I am, being old, when I don't even know what your voice is going to sound like or whether you'll be good at sports or at playing the piano."
Dana gazed down at the diaper-and-onesie-clad child and smiled. "At least you weren't all dressed in Star Trek uniforms," she said, "Lieutenant Uhura."
The baby stopped sucking and smiled.
"You like that, do you?" She repeated the name again, “Uhura”, thinking of the gold uniform with the Enterprise chevron over the heart, when she remembered another detail from the dream.
“Now why did you have a spread-eagled eagle on your jacket where your Division Patch should be?” Dana teased. “I’m going to have to get this dream analyzed after all.”
Dana held the baby up to burp her again, then danced her across the small living room. It would only be a couple more weeks before she would be packing her off to daycare and returning to work.
"Shall we go pick up Aunt Amy down at the shelter?" Dana carried the baby over to the chest of drawers, pulled out miniature overalls: "We'll need some sturdy duds for the meet and greet, won't we?"
Dana slung a diaper bag over her shoulder, sat the baby on her hip and grabbed the folded-up stroller from the corner by the front door.
"Maybe one of the girls can tell me what it means to have the number 53 stitched on a suit lapel." Dana shook her head. “I can just imagine what they’ll say about the bird!”
She put the baby into the stroller and dangled the key chain in front of her. When the baby reached out her hand to make a grab for them, Dana smiled.
"Yup," she said, "you're definitely a lefty."

My Round 9 entry for NPR's Three-Minute Fiction contest, which had to revolve around a US President.
The winning entry is here: http://www.npr.org/2012/11/04/164264711/three-minute-fiction-the-round-9-winner-is


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