A Car Seat for My Baby

A Car Seat for My Baby

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And now, a Scary Story.

Many of the things my husband and I had gotten for our newborn have been hand-me-down items in good condition from friends and family members. We made ends meet by working at separate times during the day so we could be with our baby and not have to pay a babysitter.

Almost a year later, we had more luck with work. It was a tough call, but we got the money together to purchase a car seat in order to take our baby out to the park or to visit my parents a couple of towns over. I ordered it on sale online from Dexters, 50% off.

I’ll never forget that.

Your order will be delivered in two weeks, thank you for shopping with us.

My husband got a promotion at work a couple of days after that and his shift at work would be starting at seven in the morning starting the next day. This was supposed to be great news, but now I had to find a babysitter and the thought of spending money we didn’t have started to stress me out because my shift at the restaurant also started at 7 in the morning.

That night, I called my mom to tell her about the situation. She happily suggested that I take Sarah to her in the morning, and problem solved. I was relieved, even though it would mean that I would be waking up earlier to make the drive thirty minutes into the countryside of Colorado and thirty minutes back.

Almost instinctively I called mom back right after hanging up.

“Mom, I’ll be needing a car seat for Sarah,” I said, “where can I get one at this hour?”

I had ordered one, of course, but it hadn’t arrived yet. Mom always thinks of things right on the spot and is a very logical problem solver, so I usually called her to figure out what to do in pretty insane situations.

“Jim’s parents have one, and I can see they still have their lights on. Hold on.”

Jim was my neighborhood friend while I was growing up. His parents were very close to my mom and dad and they had been with us through every important family event for as long as I can remember.

My phone rang.

“I found one for infants, sounds about right, eh?” Mom said, “you’ll need it for tomorrow, why don’t you come on by now? Your dad is asleep but I’ll be awake for another hour or so.”

I agreed and got ready to leave. It was around 9pm.

The drive along the grassy fields at night was one that I could not seem to remember ever taking. Most of the time I would look around at the green fields thanks to the bright sunlight. It was darker than normal and no moon in sight.

I finally started to see the street lights in the distance. Mom’s house was the second one on the first block.

Mom greeted me at the front door and told me that she had just picked it up from the side of the shed on the neighbor’s property. They wouldn’t mind, but I still found it awkward whenever mom did something like that. The baby car seat looked a little worn, but in good condition from what I could tell in the dark. We wiped it down with disinfectant, I locked the base to the car and the car seat to the base, said good bye, and got in my car.

The ride back was odd, to say the least. At one point, my steering wheel felt like it was being pulled to one side.

That would be the start to the sequence of the creepiest events I have ever experienced.

The next morning, as planned, I got up at 5am, loaded up the car and strapped Sarah to the car seat and headed to mom’s place. Sarah kept squirming and moaning until halfway through the drive when she just burst into a panic scream-crying so loud that I had to pull over to see what was wrong.

But nothing seemed wrong.

Mom came out of her house once I arrived and she picked up Sarah, wiping the tears from Sarah’s face with the cloth I had brought.

I was in a hurry, so I left Sarah’s things and went straight back to the car to make the journey back.

John dropped me off at work at 6:45am and he went to his job to his new position. And then at around 4pm, he picked me up.

We were on our way to pick up Sarah when John mentioned how stained the car seat was. I turned toward the back seat and noticed some deep dark stains on the back part of the seat, almost like black engine oil. I figured I’d spray the seat down as soon as I we got Sarah, and put a towel on the seat in the meantime.

Sarah cried the whole way back to the house, but calmed down once we arrived.

I took the car seat out to clean it again out on the front porch when I noticed that the stains were still wet and the white rags I was using turned brown, like coffee. I thought it was odd, but didn’t put too much thought into it at the time. Of course, all of that would change later.

I put the seat back into the car and went back into the house.

The next morning, Sarah kept crying on the way to mom’s house. But at one point, I heard her laugh in between her cries.

At least I thought it was her.

Things got weirder on the days that followed. My radio stopped working completely and the steering wheel kept tugging to one side at random times. Another time, the rear passenger window rolled down halfway, with Sarah being too far to even reach the knob.

The laughter got louder.

I told John about it, but he said that it might be lack of sleep. I did it more to warn him to be careful than to ask for help, but he said it would be okay. It was going to be his turn to take Sarah to mom’s place.

It was 6:50am on a Monday and John hadn’t arrived to pick me up to go to work, so I figured I’d call my coworker for a ride and called John’s cell phone to let him know to just go straight to his work, but he didn’t pick up.

My coworker and I both got to work five minutes late.

At around 9am, my manager called me up to her desk by the kitchen. I figured it was something to do with me showing up late, but instead she just pointed to the phone and went back to checking her invoices.

I picked up to the sound of a man verifying my name.

“Mrs. Parker?”

What he said to me still seems like a blur to me. My husband had been in a car accident and was now in stable condition. The officer kept asking for the infant’s information.

The sounds from the phone seemed distant and slurred. My manager grabbed my arm and led me to the chair.

“Mrs. Parker, please. I need you to describe the infant,” I heard over the phone.

“Her name is Sarah,” I said, and then described what I remembered she was wearing.

My manager got the name of the hospital and offered to drive me there. I got my phone out to call my mom, or John, or I don’t know who, but when I looked at the screen, I saw two missed calls from my mom and hit the button to call her back.

She picked up almost immediately.

She calmly said, “So it turns out that Ben and Meg are upset over the car seat and would like me to return it to them,” she said, as she tried to make it okay by chuckling a little bit.

“Yeah, apparently –“, she continued.

“Mom!” I interrupted. I told her that I couldn’t waste my time talking about a dumb car seat. Not right now. We had pulled up to the hospital and I hung up as I rushed into the front desk and asked for John.

John was in a hospital bed. I asked the nurses where Sarah was, and she looked at me, confused. She kept staring at me as she backed away toward the door and rushed to the other nurses. They all told me that there was no Sarah there, and that I should calm down.

I was back in the room when a slightly friendlier nurse brought a paper cup with ice water as I sat by John’s bed when a police officer peeked his head into the room and asked for me in the familiar voice I heard over the phone. In a panic, I yelled for Sarah, to which he said that there was some confusion in the reports.

A couple of good samaritans had witnessed the accident said that a child was heard crying off the side of the road but no child was found when the police had arrived and that they would continue to find an explanation. I remember myself screaming and crying at thought of losing Sarah.

A less than an hour later, I called mom ready to give her the bad news even I wasn’t ready to accept. Mom was eerily silent, but then interrupted to say:

“But Sarah’s here. With me.”

But what about the crying child?

Slowly, it all started making sense. John had the accident while driving back to pick me up for work. But then mom brought up the car seat again.

Mom continued.

“Jim’s parents were upset about the car seat because it belonged to them at the time of the accident, remember?”

I barely remember the accident, Jim didn’t like to talk to me about it. It isn’t something kids normally talk about. Jim’s little brother had died in a tragic car accident as a baby. His little brother had been flung off the car seat, flew through the car window, and died on the scene after landing on the stretch of road through the grassy fields.

Jim didn’t like the scary stories we told as kids about the headless child crying on the road at night.

I felt relieved and confused. John would be alright, and Sarah was safe and sound. I got the answer to my final question when John woke up a few hours later before going back to sleep.

“The little boy. Laughing.”

“What?” I asked.

“There was a boy in the car seat.”

A week later, the doorbell rang.

“UPS!”

It was a big brown box with a brand new baby car seat.

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