Angela held her newborn baby Rosalie and stared into her eyes searching for something. She searched for the proud moment she was told of in all the pregnancy books. She looked for the tears and laughter she tuned into for hours every day on Discovery Channel as mothers held their children for the first time in nine months. They cooed over their bundles of joy staring into their eyes and envisioning the future. Instead, Angela saw financial burden, sleepless nights and a tough times ahead wrapped in a swaddling cloth. This baby had no father, after this hospital they had nowhere to call home, she had no steady job and she walked blindly into a relationship which left her stranded in a new island where she knew no one. She didn’t even know she was expecting until she was eight months into her pregnancy.
“How am I expected to love you if I barely even know you, ripened eighteen years of age, you ripped my future from under me like a dusty carpet and for eight months you silently sucked the life out of me without my permission.” Hot tears streamed down Angela’s face as she poured her heart out to this baby. “Nowhere to sleep or eat what am I supposed to do, especially if you have a father who doesn’t want or love you. ”
Just then, a nurse name Jocelyn had been eavesdropping by the door, came in to check Angela and Rosalie’s vitals and a routine checkups. Angela sat there despondent.
“You know Angela; I don’t mind helping you to get back on your feet”
“Since ya dey a play fas’, mi kno ya hear the part when ma say me na ha no money” Angela snapped back. The nurse calmly reassured Angela that she was not doing this for money but rather, she knew what it was like to feel as though life itself had rejected you and also wanted to ensure the safety of the baby whom she had taken a liking to. Reluctantly, Angela agreed and was discharged later the next day. She went home with the nurse who also helped to settle the hospital bill until Angela found work and could repay her.
The first couple of nights Rosalie awoke screaming at the top of her lungs at odd hours in the morning. Nothing seemed to comfort her. Angela appeared to be going out of her mind. “Shut up!” “Stop screaming I am trying to help!” she would shout at Rosalie, and at this point, Jocelyn would step in. A night, Rosalie rolled off of the bed and lay on the floor helpless as she tried to wrestle her way from the blanket she was wrapped up in. Angela watched her not the least bit concerned as Rosalie was losing the fighting with each struggle. Angela simply closed her eyes to go back to sleep. Joycelyn doing her normal nightly check on Rosalie and Angela flew to the baby’s rescue.
One night Jocelyn had to work extremely late and left Rosalie home alone with Angela. Jocelyn made sure Rosalie was asleep before she went to work and left Angela asleep in the living room chair. As usual at about 3 a.m Rosalie awoke screaming. Angela trudged to the room where the baby was asleep and saw something holding her baby. It was a short haggish looking woman. Angela watched in shock as it drained baby Rosalie’s lifeless body of every last drop of blood. When she heard Angela begin to scream she took off like a ball of fire through the house. She never thought she’d live to ever see a Ol’ Higue but here it was. Rosemarie rushed to her baby’s aid and cradled her. She crumpled on the floor still holding Rosalie tightly and watched herself in the mirror on the opposite wall. The tears she had subscribed to a month ago came but they were not joyful ones. The reflection mimicked her movements and held the baby just as she had, but, she realised she looked like the Ol’ Higue. She sat there in shock and dismay and suddenly it spoke.
“ It is me the islands’ feared ancient dread, but the blood is on your hands instead, I’m the reason you mourn this baby’s death, Girl as long as dey have woman giving birth, an ol’ higue like me can never dead.”
Jocelyn pulled up to her house at five the next morning and was greeted by police cars, ambulances and nosey neighbours surrounding her house. She watched as Angela sat in the back of a police car just pulling off the curb.
AUTHOR BIO: Ariel Dunnah is a 16 year old fifth form student at the Antigua Girls’ High School. Writing is a hidden passion of hers and she saw the Wadadli Pen Competition as an opportunity to expose her creativity and gain experience in my writing. Her story, Angela’s Baby, which earned second place in the 13 to 17 age category of the 2012 Wadadli Pen Challenge was inspired by the poem Ol’ Higue – the old island story of a haggish old woman who feasts on a baby’s blood. It also addresses the social issues of infant fatalities caused by mothers who may have taken the lives of their babies or who may have had a very ill baby who eventually died from complications and may now be looking for answers. Her other entry, Every Rose has its Thorn, which won first place in the 13 to 17 age category and second place overall, also pertains to the supernatural. In it, Alyssa senses that all isn’t right with her new stepmother. Things become frightening when Alyssa’s mother visits her in a dream but nothing could prepare her for what happens next.
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