an Online Journal of Sorts

By Alyce Wilson

Jan. 21, 2003: Devil Baby

Devil baby in swing

I was born with a red "V" on my forehead. In many cultures, this would have served as my death warrant, but in mine I was allowed to live. Not that I had an easy time of it, in the first few hours of my life.

While still inside, I breathed amniotic fluid, and I was a blue baby, pried out of my mother using forceps. I was breathing, but not well.

Before my mother even got to look at me, they zipped me off to an incubator, where I would stay for a day, under the observation of nurses. My weight was good - at 7 pounds, 14 ounces - most of it in my head, if my mother is to be believed.

The doctors wouldn't let her see or touch me until three days later, when my parents took me home. In the meantime, they gave my mom a hormone shot to dry up her milk, telling her I would be too retarded to breast feed.

After three days of warring with herself, my mother had decided to bring me home anyway, no matter how deranged I might be.

Imagine her surprise when she first saw the little pink peanut-headed baby she was taking home. The red "V," to her, was simply adorable. My "pixie mark," my "stork bite," as my parents called it. To ancient cultures, perhaps a symbol of a changeling. After all, the wee folk had had three days in which to work a switch.

But my trusting parents took me home and my story became interwoven into this family of folk tale and ghost story and spirits.

The red "V" blazed crimson in my baby pictures, was ominously sketched like pale charcoal in the black-and-white snapshots of the early '70s. When I'm angry or upset, it turns red again. Sometimes, I can almost feel it tingling or burning. Stand back, Harry Potter.

When I was only six months old, Grandma Wilson dropped me down a flight of steps. My mother was in the hospital, having surgery. My grandmother had insisted she couldn't care for a baby, but my parents had little choice. Sure enough, Grandma proved her point. While walking down the back stairs - stairs where my brother would later have long conversations with someone he said lived at the bottom - she dropped me down nearly the entire flight. I was miraculously unhurt.

Perhaps my magic "V" helped protect me.

In first grade, I was playing on the monkey-bars on the school playground when I slipped and hit my head. I started crying uncontrollably, and the red "V" flared up. My teacher called my parents, afraid that I had a severe head injury.

"No," my parents said, "she's always like that."

Don't get me angry. You won't like me when I'm angry.

Copyright 2003 by Alyce Wilson

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