As the night matures and darkness covers the village like a thick blanket, a stingy breeze escapes from the surrounding hills, causing the spiciness of blazing timber to swirl around, and making the trees scream and scratch against the sturdy windows of the houses. A wooden shutter squeaking open momentarily disrupts the crispy peacefulness. Its owner struggles to pull it towards him, his fingers curling around the steel handle, scalding from the iciness. He steals a glimpse of the village before he slams the shutter shut, the bell tower of the cathedral extending to the cobalt sky like a shining blade, an audacious peak among a humble herd of houses.
The village seems to float in the dark like a flock of fireflies. Only the pinned stars and the crescent moon softly illuminate the slick sloped roofs and the pine trees in a silver hue. In the distance, the skyline of the mountain is barely visible, engulfing the plain in total blackness. A solitary cypress tree tries to stand upright, not discouraged by the bending force of the wind.
The rustle of leaves joins the timely growling of the wolves, competing with the whimpered response of the stray dogs. This is the time to claim their supremacy, when the villagers have snuggled into the safety of their beds, cocooned with scratchy blankets that reek of naphthalene. The dissonant singing of the drunk disturbs the serenity once more, accompanied by the selfish clang of keys. Finally, the closed door behind him muffles the cacophony, and the settlement sinks once again into its slumber.
It was a completely normal morning in the headless world. The people woke up and drove to their daily jobs, palpitating curses at the traffic and daydreaming about the afternoon, when they would meet with friends at the dusty bar for refreshments. Some of them, barely disentangled from the comforting hug of their duvets, were already longing for the second they would return there. Until then, everything would be strictly following its predestined routine.
In the hospital, the parent was pacing across the hallway, the soles slowly melting against the hard linoleum. The partner was giving birth right in this moment, this extraordinary simple moment. The parent couldn’t care less about the office, the bar, the sleep, things so unbelievably mundane. Today, the world would change, and would evolve in a new kind of normalcy, so much more exciting.
The parent placed the hand upon the chest. It had been how long, almost four hours that the hospital room door slapped shut upon the hands, and the parent didn’t even have the time to put enough pressure upon the partner’s hand, as a promise that everything would be alright. But now it was taking too long, and the parent started to worry. Was everything in order? In a new order nonetheless, but was it? Why no one had given the parent notice about the partner’s situation, or the baby’s? It pressed the hand against the racing heart, trying to steady the organ’s rhythm.
A brush of cool air signified the opening of the door, and the parent sprinted and slid inside the room. The parent extended the arms and found the partner’s outstretched clammy hand, which groped the left palm in a nervous tightness. The other hand found a small frail ball of life curling against the partner’s bosom. The parent liquidly caressed the small creature, finding the two kicking legs, the two flailing arms. So far, everything seemed okay. But then the bony fingers, instead of brushing against a velvet plane across the baby’s shoulders, encountered an entirely foreign sensation. A strange bulk, like a burning ball was located there, united with the body with a fragile column. On the front of the globe, there was an open hole absently opening and closing that thrummed against the parent’s hand, and above it there was an bulge in a pyramidic shape with two small holes that blew hot wind on the back of the palm. And above it two smaller spheres glued to this larger one, behind a thin veil of skin, moving like crazy rubber balls. With the heart missing a beat, the parent cradled the peculiar round mass with the two hands, momentarily letting go of the partner. In the back, the bulk was soft, with wispy strands of hair plastered against the stretched skin.
The parent felt the heart pounding rapidly against the ribcage, and a shiver paralyzed the body. Stories had been circulated about this kind of creatures, but it had never happened to someone the parent knew. Until this moment, it was only a myth, an urban legend, a cautionary tale of monstrosity. This was what they called a baby with a head.
The partner grabbed the parent’s arm, and the parent sensed the budding uncertainty, like an ivy slowly creeping into their thoughts. Meanwhile, the baby was vibrating among them, no different than a ticking bomb. The hands jerked away from the head, suddenly it was heavier that a marble rock, and the mass fell backwards upon the partner’s body. The parent and the partner interlaced slithery fingers, finding solace in the normalcy of each other.
But then the baby’s uncontrolled arms hit their elbows . The restless feet found their bellies, and its body became a dissonance. The parent recognized pain in the movement, and the heart began to hum in a concerned tune. Cautiously, the parent touched the baby’s body again while trembling – not the head. It was surprising how familiar it felt when the hands didn’t venture to the direction of this weighted globe. The baby’s body continued its drumming, and then the parent cared for the “new” normalcy no more. They would protect the living body, and the head that came with it.
The parent and the partner interlocked hands again, this time cradling the head between them, soothing its arrhythmic pressure with feathery caresses.