Be My Baby

by Thomas Kearnes

Jacob closed his eyes, and Heath leaned forward to kiss him. That's when they heard the girl scream. Heath straightened up, craned his head to peer down the sidewalk. They were in the city, standing on the front steps of Heath's brownstone. The boys were used to strangers and their noises, but the desperation in her cry alarmed them both.

"Where did that come from?" asked Jacob.

"I can't see yet," Heath said, still scanning the pavement.

The two boys stood together, holding one another lightly by the arm, and waited for the girl to appear. Dense, bright clouds of mist rose from the street as the cabs and cars eased past. Heath turned with a start when he heard a rattle from a nearby trashcan, but he saw nothing.

Jacob tightened his grip on Heath's arm and pulled him closer. "Let's get back to where we were," he said.

Heath smiled and looked at him, his cheeks a fresh crimson, but he couldn't stop looking down the street. Girls don't scream like that, he thought. Not even here, not even at night.

Sinking back to his heels, Jacob sighed and joined the lookout. Still, they saw nothing but the puffs of mist that hung over the slick asphalt. The unseen girl cried out again, and this time the boys heard the words she screamed.

I lost my baby!

Jacob turned to Heath. "Did she say baby?"

"I think so."

"Oh, shit. This is a fucked-up neighborhood."

"We don't get people like that on this block, I promise."

"Then what's she doing here?"

Starting as just a dense shadow carried by the banks of mist, the shape of a girl began to emerge as her unsteady steps clicked toward them. Heath pulled Jacob back by the arm, placed his other hand over his chest.