October 10th
Baby Lady
by alex dickson

I shouldn't have stayed out that late. I knew I didn't have the money for a cab ride home. And the subway is a weird place to be at 2 AM Halloween night. I didn't have a costume on... costumes were apparently for the woman sitting across from me on the J train wearing nothing but a dirty t-shirt and a diaper. And a necklace with a pacifier at the end. I guess she was dressed up like a baby, but the look on her face didn't feel baby-like. She was staring at me like I forced her to wear that costume. I kept doing that thing where I look to see if she's still looking and then accidentally make eye contact so I pretend that I was just scanning around the subway car and then make eye contact YET again. I should have brought my book. I should have charged my phone. I had nothing to distract me while the two of us sat across from each other on my ride home. And my phone. Why didn't I charge my phone?

I waited to stand up until the doors opened at my stop: the Lorimer stop. There was something about her that made me feel wary about giving a heads up that I was about to get off the train. What was my problem? She wasn't going to follow me. She was a lady... a lady dressed up like a baby. A lady dressed up like a baby who was probably drunk. I told myself I was just feeling creeped out because, well, ‘tis the season. I told myself my gut instinct was just me messing with myself.

The doors opened, and I stepped off the train. And heard steps behind me. I turned my head, attempting to be casual. It was Baby Lady. She now had the pacifier in her mouth. I gave a half smile and turned back around to walk out of the station. She was just heading home just like me no big deal this neighborhood is huge it's just a lady dressed up like a baby. A drunk lady dressed up like a baby. I took the steps out of the station two at a time. I could hear her further behind me than she was when we got off the train car. I took a right out of the station and walked down Broadway. Then a right on Wallabout. Safe to turn around? I glanced over my shoulder. No sign of Baby Lady. I really could calm down. Breathe, Alex. Stop being a crazy person. Left on Throop and- BAM- I run smack into a stroller. One of those old “Rosemary's Baby” kind of strollers.

"OW! Fuck!"

Those strollers are heavy and hit my shin hard. From above me I hear, "Sowwy!" I look up right as Baby Lady drops out of the tree onto me. I scream as I struggle underneath her.

"Stop! What are you doing?!"
"Mommyyyyyy!! Mommmyyyyyy!!!"
"Get OFF OF ME!"

I knee her right in the diaper. It's heavy... she's been using it. This is scary AND disgusting.

"Ow Mommy don't hurt me! Don't hurt me, Mommy!"
"I'm not your mommy you FREAK!!!"

She stops. She stands up. I want to get up and run. Now's my chance. But I'm exhausted. I'm in pain. I'm scared. I'm pinned even though she's not on me anymore. She stares at me like she did on the subway, but this time she's not angry. I usually think I can read people, but I have no idea if this is a look of sadness, realization or... joy?

"Bye-bye, Mommy."

She sprints away. I mean SPRINTS. After what feels like ten minutes but is maybe 45 seconds, I make my way up onto my feet. I look in the stroller. Expecting to see something that will make this make sense. But there's nothing. Just an empty old stroller. I walk home. Tired. Not scared anymore. I feel like I should be but I imagine that has to be the end of my night.

I hate Halloween in New York.

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