A man with grey overalls stood there stock-still and stared at the River. Looking at a ghost. Certainly not at the River, the houses beyond, the trees around him. Not the bench he was not sitting on. The pram, the same colour as his overalls, stood quietly. If there was a baby inside, it slept peacefully, silently. The feeling was of tragedy, of impending doom. Had he done something terrible? Was he about to?
She went home and briefly checked the local news, the police website. Nothing about a stolen baby, no baby thrown in the River. The next day she checked but there was nothing there. The man in the grey overalls and his quiet pram were uncomfortably forgotten.
Many weeks and days later, the right combination of day and hours occurred. Round the corner in the quiet small woodland, the man in the grey overalls reappeared. This time, she could see his face. He was in his late fifties. He wore his grief like a shroud. The pram was still grey, and quiet. She approached it, silently. He couldn’t see her, but he couldn’t have anyway. He stared right ahead. He was walking into a ghost. The baby was beautiful. One of those unreal babies that sleep peacefully and look like a white westerner’s idea of a cherubic angel.
The man stared ahead, pushed the pram.
His life partner had died, in a burning caravan, along with his son, and his son’s girlfriend – the baby’s mum.
He looked at the ghost of the fire, the screaming, his own desperation and then the realization that the baby slept quietly, in that boxed area, as yet unaffected by the fire. He looked at the ghost of himself, in the last impetus of life he’d ever had, tearing the door apart, getting the baby out, then switching off, looking at the Caravan burning, hearing the silenced screams. The baby still slept – unaware – blissful. Sirens. Firemen.
A shop, a grey pram, nappies, a woman who came in during the day, as he worked his work, got home, strolled with the pram, stopped in front of the river, and stared at the ghost.