Friday, July 20, 2012

Short Story: Wonder Bombs

We are all born with lights. Some children are born white-hot, so terrible to look at in their awesomeness. Their wonder pools in every crevice, seeping from some mystic place.  Some are born barely an ember, sliding into this world with little light pressing out; percolating as mildly underneath their skin as their interest in the mundane.

The most terrifying babes are fascinated by the most commonplace things: the ceiling; the brush of the carpet; the sound of the cat swishing her tail. The delight and mystery of each sensation, overwhelming.  Experts speculate that their dreadful beauty exists because the delicate connections to other worlds have not yet been severed. Some believe they carry the light with them from wherever souls are kept.

No child is lit after seven.

Many years and much money have been spent on the sisyphean resolution to extinguishment. 

All have felt the intoxicating flame sparked again; like flint striking firm and hard. A glimpse of a holy face across the room, a paralyzing smell from the past.    The best babies of all can kindle (not light, mind you) even the flattest heart.  The light could last from minutes to as long as a day. Of course, no solution is permanent, but babies are the best.  Sometimes all it takes is to hear the child’s shallow breathing. To see the tiniest fingernail, or its pathetic need for protection; the smallness of this one life to the universe; the promise and potential wrapped in such a tiny, radiant package.  Long ago, politicians mandated the public exposure of the most explosively celestial bodies. Whatever secret place the light kindles, it is enough to demand days of public gatherings ‘til the light is worn to a shimmer, and the children are left to live.

Elijah was the hottest baby ever born. Upon delivery, the doctor and attending staff dropped dead. The flash from his entry was enough to blind the nurses in the hall, and was so electrifying that the phone lines, computers, ventilators and life supports all stopped. Like a revolving door, as Elijah came into this world, his mother went out; faces pressed against the glass for a second before each was softly deposited into their new world. His entry was horrible and awesome at the same time.

There is no science for measuring how bright a baby will be. Spectral light is not like gender…no one can tell from the brain scans or developmental progress just how explosively children are going to enter this world. No one ever knows the impact a child will have.  Of course, precautions are taken. Mid-wifery is illegal because of how dangerous delivery is, both to the attendant and to the mother. But Elijah made it. He made it into this dark world. Even after the doctor dropped, and the hospital spun into a frenzy, he lived.

Only one baby had ever been photometrically as bright as Elijah, named Astrid. After the terror of her birth, she was built a special room to protect others from the blinding light, but also, for experimentation. Scientists wanted to find some way to harness her lumens; they searched for a way to distil the light energy into a heinously expensive supplement.  Their experiments were an utter failure. Like any caged thing, Astrid’s light quickly starved.

The solution for Elijah was different. The National Scientific Academy wanted a place where he could be observed without extinguishment. So, Elijah was quietly taken to the western mountains and left with a blind woman and her child. To the press, and quietly to Elijah’s father, the authorities gave the sad news of Elijah and his mother’s death in childbirth.  

But he was watched. Cameras can be calibrated to cancel spectral light. Through the screens, Elijah became just a child. Never before had such an anomaly been left completely and utterly alone to grow. To be.

More to come: KM
Kristen Mrdjanov
Part 2


  1. This is really beautiful, K...
    "We're are all born with lights."
    "No child is lit after seven."
    The best babies of all can kindle (not light, mind you) even the flattest heart.
    "Never before had such an anomaly been left completely and utterly alone to grow. To be." << some of my favorites.
    Looking forward to the next bit.

  2. Oh yeah, and your illustration. I love that, too.


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