I wanted a baby so badly; it was that kind of love, that kind of obsession. I had moved to the city to get one. I’d planned a series of affairs with older married guys, guys who already had children so I knew that their sperm was strong, guys that had sex infrequently with their wives, so I could make sure all the best sperm would be mine. As a Plan B I would go to clubs and hunt young guys down. Their sperm was fast and they were too young to care about condoms.
It was hot. The heat had occupied the city now for so long that even the buildings were suffocating, streets melting, shops stinking. I went to this nightclub and picked up some random guy. One of the Americans which held up the bars like pillars, their fat toffee voices sticking to the floors. I fucked him, even though the heat melted our bodies apart and the mosquitoes raged against the walls. It was too hot to sleep, day or night, so afterwards I went up to the hill, lay in the grass and waited for the baby to grow plump in my belly, to make me full. I loved it already, whoever it was, wherever, or whoever it had come from.
But it didn’t grow inside me, no matter how much I fucked, and even though I would throw her face before me as I fucked, the face of the baby I already loved, she didn’t come, she didn’t come to me.
The sex with the random American became more frequent, he had a personality, which surprised me, and a past, and it was through him that I found the baby drop-off. The hole was carved into the wall, and to open the glass you had to press a button, like the button you use to call a lift. We stood in front of it. ‘I climbed into it one night’, he told me. He was small, but still too big for the hole. I imagined him curled up, feet against the glass. ‘And then the nuns came out and shouted at me, told me what I was doing was immoral, I told them this was immoral, this was disgusting’. But his Italian wasn’t that good and the nuns’ English wasn’t that good so they didn’t understand each other. But he told me why he’d done it, or something close to why. ‘My mother didn’t know my Dad, he abandoned her when he found out she was pregnant, she had no money, but she kept me. And it wasn’t easy’, he said.
The next day when I got to the space that the American had climbed into that night, trying to scream to the nuns, trying to scream something, when I got to the glass no one was screaming, but a baby was lying there, completely quiet, almost completely still. I didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl. I imagined a girl. I stood and looked at her, my nose against the glass. I pushed the button for the glass to open, but nothing happened. Then the nun came out. She stood and looked at me. I was young, my face brown and freckled from the summer’s sun, I looked at the baby. She opened up the glass. The baby remained silent. The nun picked her up. She scrunched up her face. Then the nun passed her back to me, as if I had been holding her before, and she fitted in to my arms, just like that, comfortable, like the time of day when the heat stops and the city fills with air, just for a second.