by Shona Snowden
The Winton baby had just stopped crying when the Peace baby started. Again.
Nurse Assistant Evans froze in the aisle, one foot in mid-air. Wails echoed through the dim nursery.
At the desk Nurse Ilda flicked over a page of her magazine. "Go change his diaper." She flicked over another page.
From the Peace baby's bassinette, Evans yelped: "you've gotta see this!"
"Girl!" Ilda hauled herself up. "If I've seen one poop, I've seen "em all."
"Not this one." A sea-blue sapphire sparkled in the Peace baby's diaper.
Ilda prodded the baby's tummy with a clubbed finger. He whimpered. She thought for a moment. "Let's feed him."
Three ounces of formula later, the baby screamed in pain and yielded a ruby and a diamond.
Ilda settled herself in a rocker with the baby and a six-ounce bottle of formula.
"That's too much!" Evans protested.
Ilda glanced up at the clock. "Five am. Two hours 'til our shift is done. My credit rating's shot. And didn't you want to go to college?" The Peace baby arched his back and shrieked. A sapphire, an emerald and a diamond. Evans thrust another bottle into Ilda's hand.
The baby moaned, twisting from the teat. Ilda plugged his whimpers with milk, until the formula was gone. The baby writhed in pain, his face purple-red.
At six thirty doctors filled the nursery, muttering about intestinal blockage.
At six forty three the Peace baby died.
At nine thirty Nurse Assistant Evans enrolled in medical college.