Your mother mails you your first baby on April 22nd. It’s white, plastic, no bigger than the palm of your hand. The factory misprinted its eyes so the four, mascara laced lashes are on the bottom lid, tilted inwards towards its nose. Your mother tells you it’s still beautiful, and it’s yours.
You don’t have the heart to tell her you don’t want it. You grab a bowl from your kitchen, tuck a few napkins in the bottom, and stuff the baby in it. It sits next to you on your coffee table as you watch the news. At least it doesn’t cry.
You send a letter to your mother. Thank you, you say, it’s what I always wanted.
You’ll make sure it gets fed three times a day.
On April 24th, your mother sends you ten more babies. Black babies, Asian babies, more babies with misprinted eyes. I know you liked your last one, she says. I’m so proud of you.
You don’t know what to say. You pull all of the bowls from your cabinets and push the babies into them. You eat cereal on your plate. You don’t have any milk. The babies drank it all. You’ll get some more on Tuesday.
You call your friend Christine, asking if she wants a baby. She says no, her mother already started buying her babies too. She got her 15 babies last weekend. Christine had to quit her job to take care of them all.
You call your friend Donna and ask if she wants a few babies, but she says she doesn’t want them. Her husband wants to give her babies, and he doesn’t want anyone else sending her them over the mail.
On April 30th, your mother sends you 20 more babies. You take all of your plates and spread them out across the floor, stacking the babies on them. You can’t get into the kitchen anymore. The babies take all of your milk. They burp it back up. It curdles on the linoleum.
You call your mother and ask her to stop. You don’t want them. You admit you never wanted the babies to begin with. Your mother cries, asking if she failed you, if she was a bad mother, if she made being a mother seem bad. You say no, she was amazing. She stops crying and says she will send you 30 more babies. If she was a good mother then you must want to be a good mother too.
You beg Donna to take some of your babies, but her husband rips the phone away from her.
You spill the new babies into the kitchen sink. Their twisted limbs reach up toward the faucet, fingers splayed, looking for your hand. You don’t want to give it to them. You don’t want to feel their plastic skin on yours. They grip your breasts instead.
Why are you doing this, mother? you ask. I didn’t want this.
You have to, you have to.
She cries again until you agree to have 40 more babies. They come in the mail on May 12th.
You have to quit your job to take care of your babies. You kill your goldfish, shoving him down the sink. You can’t afford to keep feeding him. You give his bowl to three of the babies. They look at you from your dresser, their heads distorted in the glass, their upside down eyes staring at you as you sleep. You start to wonder if you have upside down eyes too.
You sell your TV. Your car. Your oven. Your couch. Your floors. Your rugs. Your toilet. You need the money, you can’t keep up with the babies. You try to pray to God but you don’t have a car to get to church with.
You’ve run out of milk again.
You need to take care of your babies, your mother says. You’re not a good mother. Your babies will die.
I can’t take care of them, you say. Can you take some?
It’s not my turn anymore, she says. It’s yours.
Your babies all start to cry. You look at the dishes on the floor. You cry too. They cry harder. You need pacifiers, but you’ve sold all of your things. You go outside and grab a rock from your backyard. You knock out your teeth and give them to your babies to suck on. There’s only 26. They ask for your fingers.
On May 21st your mother sends you 50 more babies.