Offering A Chorus of Complaints

The fever came during the night, warming her tiny face as she slept. The infant remained quiet as the illness hovered. There was a slight ticking coming from the clock on the wall as it was building momentum for the time of despair. The sweat pellets lined her pink skin. Her body simmered while she fought the deep sleep, as fear was preparing to erupt.

The baby monitor couldn't notify the parents because there was no noise to share. It hung by the crib watching the infant suffer in agony. That baby monitor was plugged in and the go light was green. The back up batteries were fully charged and ready to take control should the power go out.

The fever sent tremors, little waves of pain through the baby's torso. She tried crying, but she was much too tired. The fever made her give in to fatigue. It also built so much pressure in her head she really wanted to scream.

The thought of screaming was silenced by the vicious pounding between her tiny temples. She was in a pool of sweat as her face turned red and felt as if it was on fire. Her parents slept while her temperature climbed to 103, and her vital signs began to drift away. Her cradled position kept her chin close to her knees as her flowery blanket continuously dripped with sweat. She felt her body rocking and somehow felt the bedroom spinning. It kept going round and round and there was no end in sight.

With the exception of the baby monitor, there were no other means for summoning help. There were no buttons to push, no emergency cords or intercoms. There was no dialing 911, and because she was hard asleep due to the fever, there was no way to cry out for help. It would have been so easy to cry out, but her tiny mouth was dry and nothing could escape passed her lips. She thought about the hungry nights and how her mother came in quickly for the feeding. She knew her mother was close by, but she couldn't call her. She couldn't cry out to her.

The infant remained a prisoner in the middle of her crib, with a death sentence hanging over her. She was weak, alone, and the spinning room offered no comfort, no focus, no hope. She saw the spinning darkness in her mind and there, death loomed.

To keep her mind off of the darkness she tried to think of happy times. She tried to dream of her mommy. She fought the fever for some space in her mind and won. She thought hard for a second, there she saw mommy's smiling face. She moved in her sleep a bit, trying to keep the image of mommy on her mind.

“I love you,” mommy said with lips barely moving. She knew mommy loved her very much. She saw it clearly in the eyes. There was no mistaken that powerful feeling of love. There was no mistaken that if mommy knew what was happening, she be here in matter of seconds to fight off the fever that was condemning her to death.

The baby stirred just a little, and suddenly there was an angel standing at the side of the crib. The angel lowered her head slightly, closed her eyes, and appeared to be praying. It was a long prayer followed by a brief pause. Perhaps a sigh.

The infant was dead and the angel watched in silence. A stream of souls and spirits came out in a tumble. At first they looked like a ray of light flashing toward the heavenly skies. Then each soul and spirit took on a human form. They stopped briefly to look at the infant. They all stood around the crib staring at the heavens offering a chorus of complaints.

Why so young?

© 2016 Frank Atanacio

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Comments 31 comments

cam8510 profile image

cam8510 8 months ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

Frank, the baby's suffering was vividly described. The physical and emotional trauma was heartbreaking. I'll join the chorus.

clivewilliams profile image

clivewilliams 8 months ago from Nibiru

Great piece again, love this uniqueness in this one

Jodah profile image

Jodah 8 months ago from Queensland Australia

Good work, Frank. A different story from you. Very sad.

It reminds me a little of your poetry challenge "Spirits Sat as Mourners."

billybuc profile image

billybuc 8 months ago from Olympia, WA

The tension begins in the opening sentence and does not let up. We feel the pain of the infant, and feel the frustration. This is so well written that it's scary. :)

always exploring profile image

always exploring 8 months ago from Southern Illinois

Frank this was so real. Your word's before death and after were vividly etched in my mind. So few words, yet the babies pain was so surreal. I loved it!

MsDora profile image

MsDora 8 months ago from The Caribbean

As most everyone has said in one way or another, your description was so vivid. I felt the warmth and the tremor of the fever, the sting of the pain, the moisture of the sweat, the scare of death. Master Frank, you're among the best!

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 8 months ago from Shelton Author

Thank you guys so much for checking out my complaints.. Cam, Jodah, Billybuc, MsDora, Always Exploring, Jive Clive.. bless you guys :)

Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 8 months ago from Hyderabad, India

Very painful and vivid description of the agony of the baby. I appreciate your talents.

manatita44 profile image

manatita44 8 months ago from london

Excellent and quite different. How I love originality; of the big reasons for my writing. I detest courses and will always detest them. So great to express oneself, to come up with new ideas, don't you think? Well done! Bravo!

Missy Smith profile image

Missy Smith 8 months ago from Florida

This one was so original; a baby talking to us. I felt the struggle of this little one, and I really liked how the baby saw its mother in its final hours and knew that if her mother were aware of her illness, she would have been there. I think babies who have died in their cribs at night probably think exactly this way. I wish that would give some mothers who have suffered losing a child this way some comfort.

I will echo Venkat, when he said he appreciates your talent. I do too, Frank. You have a gift. :)

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 8 months ago from USA

So sad but well told.

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

All the way into the perspective of a dying infant. That is just incredible. Actually giving a voice to the horror of crib death. You moved me.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 8 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you so much Venkatachri, Missy Smith, Flourish Anyways, Ericdierker, manatita, for reading my chorus.. bless you guys

Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 8 months ago from southern USA

Oh Frank,

You certainly brought the suffering of that helpless little one to the forefront here. The death alone without the added internal thoughts of the child would have been sad enough, but your addition of the precious little one's inner thoughts while suffering elevated this write to brilliant, really.

My heart goes out to the mother knowing she will have to live the rest of her life knowing if she had known the child was suffering, she could have been saved. Then the precious child no longer having the love of mother, is hard to think about for sure.

Your titles are always brilliant too.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 8 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you so much Faith for your welcoming comments.. brilliant comment too..:)

Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 8 months ago

Frank, no words can express, how sad this makes me feel, as I try to avoid letting my tears drop onto the keyboard. I imagine my little one with whooping-cough and know that is how he must have felt as I held him and his fever so high, we had no phone to call 911.

What I had was a medical book that said to get an infant's temperature down put rubbing alcohol on the sole of the feet and that is what I did all night, by morning his temperature was normal.

This is the most brilliant piece of writing I believe I have ever read.

Blessings always.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 8 months ago from Shelton Author

wow, thank you so much for the wonderful comment shyron..bless you

jgshorebird profile image

jgshorebird 8 months ago from Earth

Makes me wonder if there are fever blankets or devices to warn parents that the child has a fever.

Dammit man. That was painful.

mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 8 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello Frank - this one was tough to read. It had the feel of the beginning of one of those horror movies. Just what and why were all those spirits brought into this realm?

savvydating profile image

savvydating 8 months ago

Thank you for giving a voice to an infant who could not speak. This story is incredibly sad. How heartbreaking for the parents. I wonder....can they ever forgive themselves for falling asleep? Well done as always, Frank.

Genna East profile image

Genna East 8 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

Heartrending, Frank, and riveting.

"They all stood around the crib staring at the heavens offering a chorus of complaints.

Why so young?"

I have to lend my voice to that chorus as well.

AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 8 months ago from California

Oh this just pulls at the heart Frank!

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 8 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you for stopping by jgshorebird :)

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 7 months ago from Shelton Author

mckbirdbks, Genna East, Audrey and Savvydating.. thank you guys so much for checking out my Complaints..:)

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 7 months ago from sunny Florida

O my....this hit home, Frank. Why so young, indeed??? It is so very difficult when one of any age leaves the planet but when it is a tiny wee is so hard to wrap one's head around....we remain HOPEFUL

Angels are on the way to


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 7 months ago from Stillwater, OK

Indeed, that was a fight, all right, but did the baby really lose it?

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 7 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you so much pstraubie and aviannovice for stopping by and reading my complaints.. :)

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 7 months ago from Houston, Texas

You placed us in that baby's crib as sudden illness lead to its death. Powerful imagery in this hub! We have neighbors who lost their child at 20 weeks of age. They got to hold her and love her for about 3 hours before she moved on to the next life. So sad!

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 7 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you so much peggy for checking out my complaints..:)

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 7 months ago from Dallas, Texas

My eyes flew over the captivating words as I longed to find out the result of this poor infant's suffering, hoping right up until the end that there would be a happy ending. What a sad and lonely tale of helplessness, one that makes any mother tremble in fear that it should ever come into their house. You are truly a master storyteller, Frank. Beautifully written.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 6 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you so much Pegcole17 for stopping by.. :)

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