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What Child is This

by Sean Leonard

For she believes, as you do, that she has just given birth to the first strange children of the terrible new sun. You stay at her side, holding her sweat-slick hand, gauging your own emotions based on the doctors’ reactions. One nurse gasps, another screams, and you squeeze your wife’s hand tighter as she begins to ask questions.

“Is something wrong? What is wrong with him? Tell me what’s going on!”

The hospital staff focuses on the baby. You find yourself filling their silence with that line from Rosemary’s Baby that slipped into your mind. What have you done to its eyes?

But this isn’t funny, you tell yourself, this is serious.


She first voiced her concerns when you were driving to the mall. The doctor had recommended bed rest, so she had been cooped up at home and was getting anxious. You felt for her, so you took the day off work and took her out for lunch and a drive. You knew it wasn’t much, but it was better than another day on the couch flipping through channels to find there was still nothing good on tv.

Your cd player was still broken, so you had been listening to the rock station on the radio. While stopped at a red light, she let out a sudden “oh,” and when you looked over her hand was on her pregnant belly.

“Is everything okay?”

“He’s kicking.”

You looked at her stomach and imagined your firstborn just beneath her soft flesh, then looked back to her face, expecting your beaming smile to be reciprocated. Instead, your look was met with fear.

“No, John. He’s kicking to the beat.”

You stopped smiling and turned up your radio. The chorus of Buckcherry’s “Crazy Bitch” hummed through your stock speakers. She grabbed your hand from the steering wheel and placed it where hers had been. You felt an internal bumping that matched the kick-snare beat pounding your eardrums. But it seemed too small to be a five-month gestated foot. It felt more like a fist.

You didn’t bring it up to the doctors for fear of sounding crazy, but she kept track in her pregnancy journal. Under the heading “Baby’s First Songs” was a list that produced similar results:

“How You Remind Me,” Nickelback

“This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race,” Fallout Boy

“American Idiot,” Green Day

It was the most worried you had been throughout the entire pregnancy. Then when her water broke to the news that Jersey Shore was canceled, your fear doubled.


It seemed like forever since they had taken your newborn son away, but this was all new, you didn’t know the procedure. When the doctor appeared, holding the wrapped bundle out toward you, you stood up. The baby wore sunglasses and a beaded necklace around his throat, his sparse hair forming a fauxhawk. A dark, barbed wire-shaped birthmark wrapped around his arm.

“Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Roberts. It’s an asshole.”


In 1987, after hearing Poison’s “Look What the Cat Dragged In” for the first time, Sean Leonard decided he wanted to play drums. After realizing all rock stars wore leather pants, he traded in his dreams of fortune and fame for 80’s sitcoms, horror movies, and punk rock. He has a constant bitter taste in his mouth. Sean will have a story featured in Solarcide’s “Sinthology,” due mid-summer 2013.

Lead image: “Punk baby” (via Flickr user Robbie Sproule)

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  1. Good stuff here Sean, an enjoyable read!

    • Ah…this made me chortle (chortle?) right out loud…I think it was the baby kicking to such an eclectic bunch of songs that did me in…and then the Mom’s water breaking to the news of Jersey Shore being cancelled (oh the inhumanity)…a rich read. Thanks.

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