I’m at a red traffic light, behind a car with a yellow diamond-shaped “Baby on Board” sticker on the rear window. I inhale the vapors of my to-go coffee, which I consume in small sips—the only caffeine I’m allowed in a day.
The long traffic signal doesn’t bother me. Not in a rush for my appointment with the doctor whose eyes drip with a trained kindness, her face a warm veneer she dons with her gloves everyday. As do the nurses and receptionists.
A woman on foot with a messy ponytail over her shoulder and a cardboard sign in her hand approaches the line of cars from the left. The glint of a wide cuff bracelet hits my eye as a slender arm emerges from the driver window of the baby-on-board vehicle and presses some crumpled bills into the woman’s stretched palm.
I scramble for my purse as the woman comes closer. From the corner of my eye, I read the sign—“HELP. NEED FOOD FOR BABY.” Below the words is an enlarged black-and-white print of a baby’s picture.
Mothers everywhere. Entitled women—parading innocent faces in front of strangers, possible predators; driving tiny humans at busy intersections as if stickers can protect.
I pretend to talk on the phone as the woman passes by my window, holding the child’s picture in front of her face. It’s a baby girl—hair neat under a bow hairband, round eyes looking straight at me, two front teeth peeking like a bunny’s.
I place a hand on my belly below the navel. Emptiness echoes inside me. I press it down with my palm but it rises like a harmattan, blinding me. Through the haze, I see the baby-on-board sign inching closer.
Sara Siddiqui Chansarkar is an Indian American writer. Her work has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, Reflex Press, Flash Fiction Online, and elsewhere. Her work has been highly commended in National Flash Fiction Microfiction Competition and shortlisted in SmokeLong Quarterly Grand Micro Contest. She has been nominated multiple times for Pushcart, Best of the Net, and Best Microfiction awards. She is currently an editor at Janus Literary. More at https://saraspunyfingers.com. Reach her @PunyFingers
“‘Baby On Board!’ Replaces Pulp Sticker…The Circle of Life” by Steve and Sara is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0