The Vacuum by Jadyn Knight

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The Vacuum by Jadyn KnightCrystal’s head pounded as she unscrewed the bottom of the vacuum and ripped open the plastic packet that held the replacement belt with trembling fingers. “Warning!” it screamed, “Plastic bags can be dangerous! To avoid suffocation, keep this bag away from babies and children.”

Hmm, her desperate mind thought, as her daughter’s cries rose to a crescendo. I wonder what it will do to Avery?

Avery cried constantly. Crystal tried to be a good mother, but the baby didn’t like her. Since she’d come home from the hospital, Avery had cried every time Crystal held her, and the ninety percent of the time she didn’t.

The baby cried less when the vacuum was on, so Crystal kept it running all day. “I’m sorry, baby,” Crystal would say to her daughter’s miserable face. “I didn’t mean for this to happen.”

After she got pregnant and her mom threw her out, Crystal had expected to move into Kenny’s house in the suburbs, not this cockroach infested apartment. “Are you crazy,” Kenny had snarled, “Did you really think my wife would move out so my pregnant, sixteen-year-old girlfriend could move in?”

Well yes, she supposed she had. The wife didn’t have any children with Kenny. And she wasn’t nice to him at all. Why should she get the house?

Crystal wiped the tears off her face, re-assembled the vacuum, and started it. Maybe Mama’s right, she thought as she smoothed the rough edges of the plastic bag. Maybe Avery is demon spawn, and that’s why she’s always crying. Or maybe she’s a little angel that wants to leave this awful place and go back to heaven.

She clutched the bag in her fist and walked towards her daughter’s crib. “Hush,” she said as she picked the baby up. Crystal clutched Avery close to her and sang a lullaby, praying the baby would stop crying, just for a few minutes.

When she didn’t, Crystal laid her back in her crib. She wondered if Kenny would come home again reeking of beer, demanding she “Shut that brat up.” Her arm darted out and she pressed the plastic bag against Avery’s wailing mouth. Then she fled the room, slamming the door behind her.

An hour later, Crystal forced herself to turn off the vacuum. Kenny would be home soon.

It was quiet. Her heart pounded as she paused outside the bedroom door. It’s God’s will, she reminded herself. If God wants me and Kenny punished for our sins, my baby will be in heaven. If he doesn’t, she’ll be just fine. It’s out of my hands.

She opened the door and saw Avery lying motionless in her crib. The plastic bag was lying next to her little head. Crystal tiptoed over and placed her hand on her daughter’s chest. It was still. She picked Avery up, cradled the still-warm body against hers, and wept.

Then she took the loaded gun from the bedside table and waited for Kenny to come home.


Author Bio: Jadyn Knight lives in Southern California with her husband and two teenage daughters, none of which she has attempted to smother. You are cordially invited to stalk her (in a totally non-threatening way) at