On Wednesday the babies of Petrichor disappeared from three thousand four hundred seventy-two collective wombs. Fifty-four gynecologists told three thousand four hundred seventy-two women that, within forty-eight hours of each other, their fetuses had vanished completely and absolutely selfishly, without even a bloody stain to mark the divorce of organisms.
The fetuses had ranged in age from 11 weeks to 39. The oldest fetus had a name, twelve newly-sown booties and a trust fund. The parents of the youngest were not even aware of its existence, but for days afterward his mother would feel a certain soreness in her belly that she could not attribute to any medical condition.
Some of the mothers, labelled “carriers” in the case filed twelve hours after the emergence of the first twenty incidents, were within prime reproductive age, had salaries well above the poverty line and enjoyed relatively peaceful lives on streets known for aesthetic qualities and family-friendliness. Thirty percent were either much too old, Jeopardy watchers (what is birth control?) or much too young, get lucky girls. Two out of every ten were lactose intolerant. Two out of every ten held decidedly unsavory professions.
Over the course of a week, three thousand four hundred seventy-two females began falling by the wayside, into clumps and cleavers and wells of their own specific construction. A few took it completely in stride, swallowing up the harsh hand of chance with personality and a dab of gumption. Almost all of them told themselves that it didn’t matter, not for a fetus, not for that, not, not at all. Three thousand three hundred wept into toilet paper in the bathroom, fifty-four took up smoking again. One set up a group for grieving, and she would have found three thousand four hundred seventy-two exactly like her, had it not been for that night’s meteorological forecast.
It just so happens that, on Tuesday, six days after the disappearance of three thousand four hundred seventy-two babies, the usual weather man on Channel Four, a slippery-slick man fifteen of the three thousand four hundred seventy-two had once nursed painful crushes on, was replaced by a small, spaghetti-skinny girl in slacks. “Tonight,” she said, peering a little sleepily into the camera, “at eight fifteen, it’s going to start raining children.” She got in a wink before an authoritative arm pulled her off the air.
Not all of the three thousand four hundred seventy-two women, females, carriers, mothers saw the broadcast. Most of them, in fact, didn’t see it until two days later, while they were being individually interviewed for a police report. Upon their first viewing, one thousand seven hundred started sobbing from sheer force of impact. One started sobbing because she owned the exact same slacks the mystery forecaster wore.
In any case, at eight fifteen in the evening, Tuesday, exactly three thousand four hundred seventy-two women found themselves jumping off hospital beds, abandoning ovens, jolting out of mail rooms and going outside, for no real reason. And then, almost through divine intervention (even though nine hundred of them were hardcore atheists), they all stuck their arms out split seconds before, out of nowhere, babies catapulted out of some atmospheric layer, falling with all the force of human beings weighing from five to eleven pounds, crashing in the most perfectly ungainly way possible, but beautifully, beautifully, beautifully, safe and sound and a few suffering from mild infection, into the cradling limbs of three thousand four hundred seventy-two women.
None of the babies were paired with their biological mother. One woman managed to nab two, twins not related to each other by any conceivable bond other than that of simultaneous falling. And yet, no posters were put up and no children were reclaimed. Each mother felt, more strongly than any of them had ever felt before, that she could hold her babe up and know that it was rightful, she and those other three thousand four hundred seventy-one women and three thousand four hundred seventy-one kids, absolutely rightful in the purest sense of the word.