Warning: Mentions of Abandonment
There was always something about a morning run that Ashton loved. The smell of fresh air, his lungs burning with each step he took. The usual route Ashton took was blocked off by construction, so instead he decided to run along the hiking trail. It was drizzling out making the trail muddled a bit. Ashton’s breath came out in pants as he continued his trek. His legs were aching at an extreme. It was a good kind of ache and the music blasting through his headphones edged him on even more. Ashton had been running for nearly an hour, the sun starting to rise higher in the sky and warm the cool morning air. After a few minutes Ashton came to a stop and he bent down, hands resting against his knees as he tried to catch his breath. His left hand came up to look at his watch and Ashton made a mental note to himself that he had thirty minutes to get back home, shower, and head out for his meeting. He reached back to grab a water bottle from his backpack and flipped open the cap. After taking a chug of water Ashton continued on his run.
Something was screeching loudly and had somehow managed to go over Ashton’s music. It had gotten to the point of annoying Ashton that it suddenly peaked his interest to figure out where the noise had come from. His running had begun to slow and soon Ashton came to a stop. Ashton was a panting mess, sweat dripping from his face as he pulled his earbuds out to listen. It was quiet for a few moments and then the sound picked back up. Ashton’s eyebrows furrowed and he knew how dumb it was for him to follow the sound, but he did anyway. The screeching grew louder as Ashton moved closer to the sound and the more he listened Ashton seemed to recognized the sound. It was that of a baby’s whine. One of an infant no less. “It can’t be,” he muttered to himself coming to an abrupt stop at the sight of the black trash bag. Ashton felt his blood run cold and he hesitantly approached object. The trash bag moving about as if something was in it. When Ashton’s foot stepped on a branch and it snapped the crying stopped. “Please don’t be what I think it is,” Ashton whimpered already feeling the tears spring at the corner of his eyes. He bent down and with shaky hands Ashton grabbed the opening to the bag. Ashton’s breath hitched in his throat as he opened the bag and a cry of agony left his lips at the sight of the child. “Fuck,” Ashton hissed, pulling the bag open even more.
Tiny whines left the child’s lips and Ashton’s hand ran through his hair in frustration. “Is anyone else out here!” Ashton yelled, looking around to see if someone else was there. That maybe the child’s parents were close by. He looked down at the baby, the little boy had to be around two maybe three weeks old. Hands tiny and face red as he cried harder. Ashton began to coo at the infant and he slowly reached into the bag to pick the child up. “I gotcha sweet face,” Ashton hummed, bringing the child up into his embrace. He began to rock the child, trying to soothe him. Ashton sighed deeply and he stood up with the child in his arms, making his way back towards his car. Once Ashton made it to his car he opened the back door and laid the infant on the seats. He pulled out his phone not sure what to but call his mom.
“Hey Ash,” his mother’s cheery voice filled the line.
“H-Hey mom I uh-I have a situation,” Ashton sighed, looking down at the infant that was staring at him with big eyes.
“What kind of situation,” Anne questioned, her voice now matching the tone Ashton had.
“I um-I found a bab-a baby,” he stuttered out. The line went quiet and Ashton sighed in frustration.
“What do you mean you found a baby?” Anne asked, confusion laced in her voice. Ashton gripped at his hair and he tried to think of a way to say this lightly. How was he suppose to explain something like this to his mom.
“I was out on my run and the usual route I take was being worked on, so I decided to take a run on the forest trail right,” he began to explain, “There was this sudden screaming and I went to investigate.”
“Investigate? Ashton you don’t go on a sleuthing trip in the woods on your own!” Anne exclaimed.
“Ma that’s not the point! I found a fucking baby in a trash bag in the middle of the woods. No one around at all. An abandoned baby and I don’t know what to do,” he huffed.
“Watch your language when you talk to me,” Anne scolded, “Okay…you found a baby. The best thing to do is contact the police. You’ll give them a statement and then they’ll put the him or her in child services.” Ashton stared down at the infant in worry and for some reason he found himself shaking his head.
“What if no one adopts the baby? I can’t live with myself knowing he went through life without parents,” he said, hand reaching out to rub the baby’s tiny hand. The child was freezing and Ashton began to wonder exactly how long the baby had been out in the woods. “I don’t have a car seat,” he mumbled more to himself than anything.
“Ashton I need you to think logical right now. What this baby need is to be in the care of professionals,” Anne said, trying to drive some since into her son. Somehow she already knew what was going on in his head and knew Ashton was planning to do something stupid. Ashton grinned when the child grasped his finger ans Ashton felt his heart swell with love. “I’m serious Ashton call the police-”
“I gotta go mom love you,” Ashton quickly said. The sound of his mom’s voice shouting through the phone was cut off when he hung up and Ashton looked down at the baby with furrowed eyebrows. “Hey Sweet face do you want to take a trip to the doctors office? Yeah I know you do,” Ashton said in a baby voice, his phone beginning to blow up with text messages from his mom. Ashton ignored the messages and soon was on his way to the nearest pediatrician. What Ashton was about to do was crazy.
Ashton sat in the waiting room of the doctor’s office his legs bouncing up and down to soothe the once again crying child. He had no idea what he was doing, but for some reason Ashton knew he couldn’t just leave this baby in child services. From what he’s heard being in the system wasn’t all that great and if at some point a family ends up having their own child then they might send the baby back. Bouncing around from different homes wasn’t healthy and not an ideal for a child in Ashton’s mind. “Mr. Irwin?” the nurse question making Ashton’s head shot up at the words and he quickly scrambled onto his feet, lifting the baby up to his chest before walking towards the door.
“So who’s this little guy?” the nurse questioned, grabbing the baby from Ashton’s arms.
“Um I don’t really know,” Ashton muttered, realizing he didn’t know the child’s name. If the child even had a name. The nurse looked at him quizzically and Ashton blushed in embarrassment. “I uh found him in the woods-after the check up I’m going to call child services,” Ashton said, telling half the truth.
“Oh wow-that’s unfortunate. Good thing you brought him in though,” the nurse said, a hint of pity laced in her voice. Ashton nodded at her words and watched as she placed the young boy on the padded table. “First thing we’ll do is test his respiratory system. Can you hold him up for me?” she requested, grabbing a stethoscope. Ashton did as she said one of his hands lifting the child up as his other rest the behind the baby’s neck to support it. “Such a shame you know,” the nurse started making Ashton look at her in question. “Oh abandoning the child in the woods. Someone must have been desperate to get rid of this child. Most cases a situation like this shows that the mother hid her pregnancy and had the child in secret,” the nurse said, listening to the baby’s heartbeat. Ashton’s eyebrows rose in understanding and he nodded at her words. If that was the case then this child definitely didn’t have a name nor a birth certificate at that.
“If he doesn’t have a birth certificate do you know how child services obtain one?” Ashton questioned, laying the child back down once the nurse was finished.
“From how young he looks child services would probably chalk his birth up to maybe last week, then they go through all the paperwork and whatnot. I’m not quite sure. Uh his heart rate sounds good, if he’s been out in the woods for who knows how long it’s a miracle that he didn’t die of pneumonia.” Ashton thought of what the nurse had said and he looked down at the child in curiosity. “Wait here and I’ll grab the doctor,” the nurse smiled, exiting the room. If Ashton was going to do this he had to do it right. He grabbed a chair and brought it closer to the table and rested his chin against the side as he watched the child.
“You’ve been through a lot huh, buddy?” Ashton mumbled, brushing his finger over the infant’s cheek. Ashton was confused on how someone could give up something so innocent. The child didn’t ask to be born, now did he ask to be abandoned. Somehow Ashton felt like he was responsible for the baby now. After finding him Ashton wasn’t sure if he wanted to call child services. Ashton smiled down at the baby who had become fascinated and had taken a liking to the man that had found him. The more he stared at the child the more Ashton convinced himself that this was the right thing to do. He found himself picking up the child, kissing the plump cheeks of the baby and grinning at him. “I’m gonna call you Ian,” Ashton said in confidence, the infant sending a gummy grin towards him. This felt right and for the meantime Ashton decided he wanted to be the child’s father. Even if the law forbade it.