and they want to know my take on the current climate. The world smells sharply metallic, rusty, they say, the energy they’re picking up from our wavelength is jangly. They want a sitrep. They want to meet up. The unborn babies have been scrolling, noticing a lot of new followers, but they could just be bots. Some babies ask about the highway billboards, and some think it’s cool to be so popular, but others aren’t as sure; popularity is a bell curve, they say, and they don’t know which side of the hill “billboard” falls on. Some babies are upset—they don’t recall signing an authorization for use of their image and likeness. Like college athletes do, the babies add, so I’m sure to understand the comparison. Some babies ask me if sausage tastes less good once you know how it’s made. Other babies want to know who taught the very first teacher; whom did the first poet steal from? One baby asks if Nazis sleep with one arm raised toward the ceiling, and why are there even any left? This is a lot for me to process; I ask the unborn babies if they can settle on a single question. The babies huddle up and coo and gurgle. A spokes-baby says that the unborn babies are mostly exhausted. They hear their name used constantly and they’re not even there yet. They need to know this: If they choose to come into the world, will things settle down a bit? Might they be able to get some rest? and I say, hey, look over there, what a beautiful rainbow! and the babies twist to the side to search for it and I’m thinking fast because it’s only going to work this one time.
Hear Joe Kapitan read his piece
Joe Kapitan writes fiction and creative nonfiction in Cleveland. He is the author of a published short story collection, an unpublished novel, and an editor’s highlighted piece in the Best Small Fiction 2023 anthology. He is also a CNF first reader for Atticus Review and an assistant nonfiction editor for Pithead Chapel.