Erica Plouffe Lazure

Photo Credit: Tamara Craiu/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

Last week, on our way home from the library, we saw the woman who pushes a fake baby in a real carriage. Someone claimed she was crazy, that she’d killed her real kid in a car accident, which is why she walked everywhere with that carriage. Someone else joked she was too poor to own a car, but did not dispute the dead baby theory. And today, as I walked across the street after school, nose buried in the library copy of the fourth Narnia book, the lady with the fake baby ran right into me. The light had turned red, signaling for us to walk, and I thought I was safe except there I was in the middle of the intersection, with a skinned knee from her wheel and my book flung inside the carriage.

“Lucy!” the lady shouted, bending over the carriage to check on the fake baby.

“Can I have my book back?” I asked, my face hot.

The lights were about to turn and the cars revved with anticipation.

The lady looked at me for the first time, saw me clutching my skinned knee. “What are you doing here?” she said. “Stay away from my baby!”

“I don’t want your baby,” I said. “I just need my book back. It belongs to the library.”

She took the book, admiring the cover—The Silver Chair—then put it back in the carriage. “I like libraries,” she said.

The lights turned green and horns started sounding, and she continued to stand there as though we weren’t about to cause an accident.

“What’s your name?” she asked.

“Cora,” I lied. Cora was the name of a real baby I knew and sometimes babysat for.

“Cora, have you met Lucy?” she asked. She picked up the plastic doll—I could now affirm it had working eyelids, no hair, a serene expression between sleep and wakefulness, all wrapped in a dirty pink cloth. The woman glanced from the fake baby to me as the blare of horns grew, and I smiled through her toward Lucy.

“Nice to meet you, Lucy,” I said. Lucy’s eyelids shifted open when tilted upright. “And what pretty eyes you have.”

And even though I knew that the fake baby was plastic and her owner was crazy, as the horns grew louder around us, desirous of getting on with their daily commute home, I am certain that as I touched Lucy’s tiny plastic hand, I heard a small laugh, a baby’s laugh, coming from the doll, or perhaps from a presence alive inside the carriage, into which I reached and found my book, and escaped into the rest of my afternoon, into my novel, enchanted by the imagined worlds that I simply could not accept in real life.


Erica Plouffe Lazure’s flash fiction collection, Heard Around Town, won the 2014 Arcadia Fiction Chapbook Prize and was published in July 2015. Another chapbook, Dry Dock, by Red Bird Press, was also published in 2015. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, the Greensboro Review, Meridian, American Short Fiction, The Journal of Micro Literature, The Southeast Review, Fiction Southeast, Flash: the International Short-Short Story Magazine (UK), National Flash Fiction Day Anthology (UK), Litro (UK), and elsewhere. She lives and teaches in Exeter, NH and can be found online at Email: ecplouffe[at]