“We’ll name her Moses,” Marla said, grinning.
“We will do no such thing!” Dan replied.
The basket sat on the doorstep, no note pinned to a blanket, nothing. Just a basket, with a prize inside. Marla’s first name choice had, in fact, been “Cracker Jack.” Dan gave her a negative on that. Or as he put it “Ixnay on hatyay.”
“You mean atthay, Dan,” Marla put in. She smirked as she said it, not sure why she took such pleasure in knowing pig latin better than he did. “Hat yay is when I find a really primo fedora in a used clothes store for, like, three bucks. Canadian.”
Dan laughed and reached into the basket to run a fingertip along the prize inside. Small little thing though she was, she still knew when attention was being given to her and lifted her chin helpfully to accommodate the finger. “Canadian monetary deals or not, we aren’t going to name her Cracker Jack.”
Which is when Marla came up with Moses. The entire time this went on, there wasn’t a peep from the basket. Both Marla and Dan thought it strange but decided to not think too deeply about it just yet. Thinking deeply would mean that the basket was theirs for good now and as long as the basket, and its contents, were separate from Marla and Dan, then it would be something that simply got accidentally left on their doorstep.
Which was, thought Dan, rather odd to begin with. Who left living things on other people’s doorsteps anymore? Who did that? And, for those few who considered themselves desperate or unfortunate enough that their circumstances warranted something like that – who took the time to choose a basket?
Maybe the basket was pre-owned. Perhaps there was an Easter accident that left the owner with an extra basket and that basket had sat in a closet for years, waiting for something useful to happen to it. And now here it was, the star of the day, with only some cotton swaddling as padding and a live, squirming thing in it that was oddly quiet.
Marla took one look in the basket and knew there was no way in the world that basket was not coming inside with them. In fact, spending a minute or two pretending that maybe it wouldn’t was funny. Spending five minutes pretending was starting to feel creepy and evil to her. She looked at Dan and nudged him with a shoulder.
“Hey! Don’t make me drop the…”
“Oh, come on, I only kinda nudged you, Dan.”
“With your freakish strength you might’ve broken my arm. Medic! I think I need to go to the hospital. At the very least I need to go take a nap and think about what you’ve done.”
“What I’ve done? Dan, who did this? How can they… can you imagine? Standing here, a basket with a baby inside and staring it down? Staring down your own morality, your own life that way? Knowing that there was no going back? What was that like, can you imagine?” Marla took a deep breath to steady herself.
“Well they could come back.”
“No, come on, in years, fine. But I mean fifteen minutes from now. Think of it.”
“Oh man,” Dan wanted to laugh, “that’s terrible but yeah, how would that even play?”
“Badly. So we keep her.”
“Can we not?” Marla asked. “Is there some situation where we don’t?”
“No. Exactly. And we can name her Bingo. B. I. N. G. O.”
“We are not naming her Bingo.”
“But Bingo was her…” The need to laugh spurred her on, and she knew that Dan knew it.
“It was never her name-o, it is not her name-o and it will not be her name-o,” he said, wondering if they would keep the basket forever, as a reminder, as the only thing left from before.
“Let’s get inside and call a doctor, we should make sure she’s healthy, she’s really quiet.”
“Tough little girl, but yeah, let’s.” Marla took the basket in hand and smiled down into it. “Silly little Ming. We’ll get you fixed up. I’ll be mom.”
“We’re not calling her Ming.”
“She’s gonna be merciless. Look at her.”
Dan looked into the basket as he held the door open for Marla. “Not Ming,” he said. He let the door close behind him and couldn’t help but smile.