art by Eleanor Bennett
by Jez Patterson
"We have to smother it on all over. Otherwise he'll dry out. Think of it like human babies weaning onto solids. They can't produce their own mucus until they're three years old. The dependency helps reinforce the bond between child and... Moira? Are you alright?"
"I can't do this, Geoff. I mean... look at me." Her sleeves were rolled up, but Lyam's baby-gloop was dribbling down her forearms as she held her hands out from her sides like a surgeon ready to operate but who'd overdone it on the disinfectant hand gel. Geoff laughed.
"Darling. You're doing fine. It's just new, is all. Look. He loves it when you touch him." That much at least was true. Lyam turned in his gloop-bath as Geoff's hands spread the stuff over his bald head, his bald body. His flat nostrils puckered and then blew through it to inflate twin bubbles. He giggled and gurgled when they burst.
Moira felt the splash on the front of her dress. It wasn't the first sob that had jerked up out of her gut, but it was the one that broke the frail fence that had held back the misery stampede.
She had to leave the nursery. Had to get out. The air had been too thin to breathe, her head had felt in a vice, and the world... the world was spinning so fast, just so damn fast.