|Chagrin River Review||
Lowell Mick White
Baby Never Grew
We were out on the porch and Gran was talking about growing up on Grassy Run. The people who lived there then were all dead now, I never knew them, they were nothing but names to me. I was in the swing reading Catch-22, which I didn’t like too much. Didn’t dislike it enough to stop reading, but it wasn’t as funny as the blurbs on the cover said it was supposed to be. I didn’t get it. I kept on reading with mounting irritation I didn’t understand. Gran kept talking about dead people—Ramseys, Sleeths, Frosts. All just names. Then she said something about a dead baby. Somebody had a dead baby. It didn’t grow. What?
“Huh?” I asked.
“What?” Gran asked back.
“About that baby,” I said. “What happened?”
“Oh,” Gran said. “That Mrs. Fisher, Peg Fisher, she was a Frost until she married Matt Fisher. And then she had this baby that wouldn’t grow.”
“What do you mean?”
“It wouldn’t grow….”
“Well, later,” Gran said. “But it wouldn’t grow. It just lay there in the crib and it wouldn’t grow.”
That didn’t make any sense.
Gran made it sound like the baby didn’t want to grow.
Like it was a bad baby.
I asked, “Why didn’t it grow?”
“I don’t know,” Gran said. “It just didn’t”
“Didn’t they take it to the doctor?”
Gran laughed. “Nobody went to the doctor in those days.”
“Didn’t they feed it?”
“Of course they fed it!” There was a glint there. Gran was getting pissed at me. About what? She was the one who brought the damn dead baby up.
I asked, “But why didn’t it grow?”
“I don’t know!” Gran said. “It just didn’t grow and it later died.”
“But—” I said. I was—I don’t know—shocked. I had this mental picture of a tiny monster bad baby. “But—that’s terrible.”
“Why’re you wanting to know about that baby?” Gran asked. She was mad.
“I don’t know,” I said. I was mad, too. “Why’d you start talking about it?”
Gran didn’t say anything. She just sat there.
I stared at the pages of the book.
The words made no sense.
Lowell Mick White is the author of three books: Last Educations and That Demon
Life, novels, and Long Time Ago Good, a story collection. He has been awarded the
Dobie-Paisano Fellowship by the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Institute
of Letters, and until recently was the NEA writer-in-residence at the federal prison
for women in Bryan, Texas. He is Assistant Professor of English at Pittsburg State