I am held with my face close to creased papery skin that smells of unknown things. I’ve never made old age and I wonder if this time I will know what it’s like to have lines and aches and pains. Rheumy eyes peer and a voice says, “I do declare, he’s been here before!” There is laughter and I know it is time to smile my gummy smile for Great Aunt Lucy as everyone ‘ahhhs’. Shaky arms plop me on a shoulder where hands pat and rub my back. I reward the doting watchers with a rich burp that delights the room. Someone comments that I will not be allowed to do such things as I grow and I know this is true.

 I tire of all this passing to different smells; I only want Mamma. She is a lovely Mamma; I can remember so many who were not. She is warm and soft and she loves me I know. Mamma rocks me and I can feel the delicious drowsiness that follows a feed. I’m drunk on milk.  I smile again; it’s better than any cheap bourbon.

I have been here before; actually, I’ve been a baby before not in a family like this you understand but I’ve been given a last chance to redeem myself. This time all the cards are in my favour. All I have to do is to behave and lead a decent life. Sounds easy enough in a place like this, doesn’t it? I’m a rare soul who has deep memory, not many do. It will remind me of the pasts I’ve endured.

 Aunt Lucy is talking now. She’s very old and has no children and more importantly no grandchildren. I have wooed the old lady with my baby charm and she is smitten with me. She tells them this afternoon that she will be leaving me all her wealth as I’m the baby who will carry the family name. I beam with joy and they laugh.

“He knows what you’re saying Aunt Lucy,” trills Mamma obviously delighted at the news. I give one of my rare but perfect gurgles that send them all into coos of pleasure.

“Of course, when your next babies come along, then Alfred will share with his brothers and sisters.” I do not reward that comment with a smile or a gurgle. My parents gaze fondly at each other. They intend more children!  I would have to share my inheritance which I do not want to do. I decide there and then that the peaceful nights they have enjoyed so far would now be shattered. I can scream like a banshee when needed. They would not have time to make any new babies, nor will they want to with me as an example. Aunt Lucy’s money would be all mine as promised. I have entered the world with good intentions. I must not fail again.

 I decide to practise my wailing ready for the long nights ahead.