Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.
~Mark Twain, 1835-1910

I heard the woman scream again, and I couldn’t take it anymore. I slipped out of the warm bed and into the cold, cruel world to investigate. I had an enormous headache, and the light wasn’t helping. The word “hangover” came to mind but didn’t quite fit. I wasn’t sure I could remember what a hangover was. It felt like even my head wasn’t fitting properly.

I saw three faces, a man and two women. The man looked me up and down and shook his head. “Another runt,” he growled. I let loose with a roundhouse kick to his chin. The blow missed horribly, but the man didn’t seem to notice.

“Good one, Papa!”

I knew the voice but couldn’t remember who it was. Familiar, on the tip of my tongue, but infinitely distant. Still, I felt the urge to thank him.

“Thanks, boa.”

Suddenly, I was jerked into the air, my ankles clasped together by the man, and a sharp whack on my ass made my face contort in pain. I could feel my face turning blue, but I wasn’t going to cry this time.

A woman with the prettiest blue eyes I had seen all day since opening my own shit-brown ones came into view. “Aww!” she exclaimed, wrapping me in a towel and helping me to an upright position. It was the ol’ good cop, bad cop routine. I knew it well. Still, I was surprised when she began to smile; it made me feel all warm and gooey inside.

“That’s it, baby boy! Breathe! You can do it!”

Her eyes lit up like only a woman’s can. The tears welled up and I readied myself to cry out from the depths of my soul. Pushing with all my might, I forced a tiny squeak from my disproportionately large mouth. Even a dog wouldn’t have heard me.

My new girlfriend became the most beautiful girl I’d seen all day. “Welcome to the World!” was all she could get out before a solitary tear slid from her eye.

Eternal bliss. right up until a split second later when the man grabbed me, jerking me from the woman’s grasp, and pushed her out of view. The man put me in a clear box, closed the lid, and walked away.

I had a feeling it wasn’t the first time I was locked up somewhere, soaking wet, head pounding, with some man messing with my woman. In fact, I was sure it was a pattern that was to repeat itself many times over the next one hundred and four years.

Welcome to the World, indeed.

Sneak peek of Chapter 1 – Mirth Defects