What Have I Done?

What Have I Done?

by Robert Praino
Ursula entered the adoption agency’s office. She set her three month old, asleep in the car seat on the floor next to her. Ms.Gibbons was alone in the office. Ursula did not take off her heavy winter coat. She did not plan on staying long.
“You should have made an appointment. I have to leave,” Gibbons said.
“I need your help, please.”
“We still have not found a place for her.”
“He’s coming home in a week. You must find someone!”
 “We have many people, ahead of you that are just as anxious.”
“He’ll kill me if he finds out.”
“Call the police.”
“Don’t be flippant with me!”
“Lower your voice. We don’t want to wake the baby do we?  There’s nothing we can do at the moment. We will call you.”  Ms.Gibbons gave a smile that would freeze the tropics. “There are other agencies.”
“It’s too late to start new. You’ve had months!”
“Maybe you can take it to a church, a charity, a government agency?”
“I’ve tried them. I’ve paid you-“
“And we’re going to earn every single dollar,” she smiled again. “Maybe you should have done what you originally planned.”
Ursula’s eyes grew wide, the veins in her neck stuck out. “Maybe I should abort you, you merciless bitch.”
Their eyes locked on Gibbons’ administrator of the month trophy at the end of the desk. They both rushed for it. Ursula was quicker. She hit her once and then again. Gibbons fell dead on the floor, close to where the baby peacefully slept. She stuck the trophy in a coat pocket.
“Was habe ich getan?” she said in her native German to her child. “Meine liebe kleiner Prinzessin, was hast du getan?”
She could sense he was there as soon as she entered her apartment complex. Her fear got stronger with each step. He was on the couch watching TV when she entered the apartment. She set the sleeping baby, still in the car seat, behind her.
“What are you doing here? You told me you wouldn’t be here-
“The brass thought two years was long enough and I should get out of Germany as soon as possible. Happy to see me?” He got up from the couch and approached her.
“Gimme a big kiss. And take off that humongous coat.”
Ursula stood motionless.
“What’s wrong? He nodded at the baby’s car seat. “Hey, whatcha got there?”
Ursula had lied so often for so long it should have been easy to come up with a story. But, she said nothing.
“Let me see.” He walked over to the child, and pulled back the swaddling clothes.
“Mother fucker, bitch, whore!”  His large, black hand easily covered the baby’s pale, redd, splotched face.
“Don’t hurt her!”
“Bitch! All this bullshit about you saying how much you were missing me when you were out whoring.I was only a meal ticket to get you out of Germany.”  He caressed the baby’s face then laid his hand over her mouth.
“No.”
“Get rid of it.”
“I tried.”
“You didn’t try hard enough,” and pressed his hand on her mouth.
“Stop. I’ll kill you.”
He removed his hand. “I know people.”
Ursula shuddered. “What people do you know?”
“Dutch people, movie people, photography people, fucking sick people who like kids.” He tickled the baby’s throat. “Kootchy-kooo, koootchy-kooo.  She’s cute, just like her mother. Kootchy, kootchy-koo.”
 “Leave her alone. Don’t touch her.”
“It’ll be fine, you know that. She won’t get hurt, and when she gets older she won’t remember a thing. It’s the only way we can keep her. You thought maybe I wouldn’t want to keep her because her Momma’s a lying slut? You thought wrong.”
His hand moved from the baby’s face to the stomach.   Ursula felt sick and bent over and felt Ms.Gibbons’ trophy jab her stomach.
“Don’t touch her!” She took out the trophy, and hit him on the head, again and again. The blood flowed easily. He lay on the floor, a few feet from the now awake and crying child.
“Was habe ich getan?” she said, and to the child, “Meine liebe kleiner Prinzessin, was hast du getan?”
Robert Praino was born in Manhattan and grew up in Hackensack, New Jersey. He graduated from William Paterson College in New Jersey and attended the Creative Writing Program at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
He currently has an ebook; Escape From Camp Orken,” and has been published in two literary magazines, a webzine, and another story has been accepted and will be published soon. 
 
He is married with three children and lives in Gulfport, Mississippi. 

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