"s 2015 Horror Write-off:

" Love for a Son "

Submitted by Irene Vallone

I’ve never been happier than on the day my son was born.

Before the moment of his birth, I was afraid.  My wife had a difficult pregnancy, and I had been concerned for her health.  I wasn’t sure if I was ready to be a father, and I worried about what kind of life I would be able to provide for my son.  But as soon as I first saw him, the slick hairless scalp pushing its way out of my wife, I knew that everything would be alright.  I knew that my son would live a good life, and that I would be the best father I could be to him.

When my wife handed my son to me, I saw something strange in her eyes.  The doctor attending his birth wrung his hands and congratulated me, but I knew he didn’t mean it.  His eyes, surrounded by worldly crinkles on his single strip of bare face, looked surprised.  My son had surprised him.

I knew what they were trying to tell me.  I didn’t listen.  He was obviously mine, no matter what the doctor might have thought.  I knew my wife, and she would never do something like that to me – and even if I did have any doubts, they were cast aside the minute I looked into my son’s eyes.

He looked up at me, his wide eyes empty, ready to be filled with experiences and knowledge of the world.  I fell in love with him.  He was my boy – my little baby boy.  I would have done anything for him.

Right away, I could tell my wife didn’t feel the same way about him.  She didn’t love him the way I did.  That surprised me – I had thought I would be a terrible father, and that she would take to motherhood naturally.  Instead, she seemed worried, almost frightened of our son.  She never wanted to hold him.  She seemed almost relieved when he refused to nurse.  I was worried at first, but he didn’t seem like he needed to nurse.  He was perfectly happy and healthy.  Even though there seemed to be something wrong with his skin – he was always sticky and bright red, like he had just peeled from a sunburn – he seemed perfectly fine.  I knew something wasn’t quite right, but he didn’t seem unhappy, and I didn’t want to take him to the doctor.  I knew doctors might feel differently.  They might try to take my son away from me, and I would never let them do that.

One night I woke up while he was feeding.  His thumbs were up my nose, wiggling around inside my head.  It felt like he was stroking the undersides of my eyeballs.  The rest of his fingers were clamped onto my face, gripping my cheeks, their soft nail-less tips pressing into my cheekbones.  I opened my eyes slowly, trying not to surprise him, and watched him until he withdrew his fingers, climbed onto the floor, and crawled out of the bedroom. 

From then on, he made me watch.  His fingers stretched up my face, curling like fiddleheads over my cheeks and forehead, clinging to the edges of my eyelids and pushing them open while his thumbs sucked the blood from my sinuses.  His eyes – all white, glassy, knowing, bigger than any other baby’s – looked straight into mine the whole time, until he drank his fill and crawled away again.  I was sad when he left.  I missed his gaze, and the feeling it gave me – a feeling of pure unconditional love, the love of a son for his father, and the love of a father for his son.

That was years ago.  He still feeds that way every night.  Even so, he hasn’t grown much since then.  Sometimes I worry about him – he isn’t growing like the other kids in the neighborhood – but at the same time, I’m thankful.  I’ll be able to love my son the same, forever, and he’ll never leave my sight.  My boy and I will always be together.  Even though my wife left, even though my friends haven’t been around since my son was born, it’ll all be okay.  As long as I have my boy, everything will be fine.  The world can do nothing to my son and me, as long as we have love.