Cheap and Convenient by Linda Simoni-Wastila

Coincidence? More like serendipity. I mean, this pink paper flapping under my windshield wiper, the only car on the street? Day care services, the flyer said. Infants welcome. Manna from heaven! Do you know how hard it is to find someone to watch babies? I had to return to work — you know how it goes when you’re single. Besides, she was cheap and convenient.
She seemed okay. Quiet. Sad brown eyes. She looked kind of familiar. But she rocked Sophie, face out, the same way I do. “Beautiful baby,” she sang. “Beautiful baby.” Later, when she said she’d had miscarriages, I should have put it all together. Because she was there in the hospital, you know. In the same room. I only remembered after.

I hated leaving Sophie with her. I wanted to stay home with my baby. That first week Sophie screamed herself purple when I dropped her off. Me? I bawled at my desk. Called every hour. “Is she all right?” I’d ask, and she’d say, “She’s just fine, Miss Dorothee.”

It got better. We found our routine. That day I was actually relaxed – it was my birthday, you know – so I treated myself to an ice cream cone on the walk home. But no lights were on. She didn’t answer the door, so I kicked in the window, black raspberry spattered all over the front steps, but she wasn’t there, no one was there… oh God, officer, please find my baby.

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “Cheap and Convenient by Linda Simoni-Wastila

  1. Oh dear, every parent or caregiver’s nightmare. So forceful … you have a talent for easing us into disaster, Linda, you do.

  2. Beautiful chill, Linda. Wonderful architecture in laying the clues: this is a full mystery in a pea-pod. The pink paper flapping under the wiper just kills me.

  3. that ending was a brick in the face.

  4. This just ripped my heart out.

  5. A powerful topic skillfully written with a strength that lies in the the way it unfolds. Beautiful, strong, heartbreaking.

  6. Great! I liked how the character sees the clues but fails to recognise them for what they are. It happens so often. Very nicely done in this story, Linda. Thanks.

  7. Melissa McEwen

    Horrific. And this type of crime is so common now. You captured the innocence and trust and the reservations and then the horror.

  8. gosh, i came here from susan gibb’s heartbreaker and i think i need a break already after that brick as len aptly says. great story, great form. don’t throw away this baby.

  9. Kim Hutchinson

    This one just kills. Very powerful.

  10. scary. and even more so when my own name coincidentally popped up there! yes, great format and powerful narrative.

  11. Oh my Linda, the horror, just amazing how you take us into this nightmarish scene. You have a gift for surprise and twists that I admire.

  12. Thanks all for reading! Glad it struck some nerves, especially as this story did not feel finished to me when time (and space) ran out.

    I remember all too well that guilty pull in the belly every day I dropped off my children at day care on the way to work. As well, I remember looking for ‘bargains’ in my providers, then realizing you do get what you pay for.

    Yes, this sort of thing happens too frequently. I am not a horror genre fan in the sense of vampires, zombies, chain saws, and talking dolls that murder. Why should I be? look around, horror abounds in our day-to-day. Peace…

  13. Michael Parker

    Wow, okay. Here is my coincidence story. Just today, I was talking with our office manager who left her baby with a new daycare person today and how unsettling the whole thing felt leaving the baby. This story captures the reality of this situation perfectly. It’s powerful storytelling, Linda! My jaw had dropped early on in this as I sensed where this was going but you had me vocally saying “no, no no!” at the end. Great work. Best,

    • wow, that is coincidence! i hope your colleague had a better outcome than my protag. thank you for reading, and so glad you enjoyed my toe-dipping into suburban horror. peace…

  14. Alexandra Pereira

    Wow. What more can I say? I really enjoyed this story. (Except for the horrific ending!) Powerful narrative! Was reading it like a movie. Well done! :-)

  15. thanks for reading! i wrote this in italics to get the effect that she’s catharsing to the police officer. happy it was effective! peace…

  16. Saw it coming with ‘she said she’d had miscarriages’ and that still did not prevent me shuttering at the end. You right, people are (can be) the real monsters. Really excellent work.

  17. Pingback: Week #41 – Coincidence | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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