by Sarah T.
The moonlight in his room is silver pools like water. He doesn't know if he's dreaming, or swimming, or maybe even drowning. They told him that he didn't have asthma anymore, but tonight he can't get his breath at all. He should be scared, but he's not, so he must be dreaming, some special dream where he doesn't need to breathe.
The sheets on his bed are soft. Much softer than the heavy, scratchy ones at the hospital. But not as soft as the silk of the christening gown. Mom had showed it to him today. It used to be his, she said, and tomorrow Julian would wear it. Wasn't he proud?
He looked at the edges of the gown. They was solid, but they also weren't. Lace cobwebs. The gown was all folded up like the most expensive wrapping paper for a present--a present for his father. Yes, he said. I'm proud.
The baptism is tomorrow. Lex thinks that must be when Julian will get his soul. The priest will pour it over him, into him, with the water. The way the light is pouring over him now, in the nursery. Julian is very still, lying on his back in his crib. He looks like a doll. Lex is too old for dolls. Dad said so, long ago.
Lex remembers reading a book that said that if you love a doll long enough, it becomes real. Lex doesn't know if he loves Julian. He thinks he might. Mom and Dad do. He heard them talking about him, when Lex was supposed to be asleep.
He's a miracle, they said. So perfect.
Lex isn't perfect. He doesn't have any hair anymore. That makes him all wrong. The baby's bald, too, but that's okay. He'll get hair later. They're right; he's not really like Lex at all.
But what if the baby couldn't breathe, like him?
The gown lies ready on the changing table. It's okay to put it over the baby's mouth, to see, because it's a dream and no one needs to breathe in this dream, in the silver water that is air, and anyway the lace isn't really solid.
The fabric flows down around Julian's head. It doesn't seem to change him, that he can't breathe. He doesn't struggle the way Lex used to, clutching for air like he could pull it into him. Lex takes the cloth away, disappointed. Still perfect. He can't stop it.
He puts the gown back where he found it and goes to his room, buries his head under the pillow. Then suddenly he does need to breathe again, and wakes fighting, to the sound of his mother's scream.
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