Flash Fiction: A Realization

Mary pulled the blanket tight around her shoulders, its softness brushing her cheek as she leaned down to check on the baby sleeping peacefully in her cradle.  How could she ever divorce George now that this child had been born?  She would have to give him partial custody and that would mean being separated from this adorable child, this miracle, this gift straight from heaven after so many years of trying to have another baby after Jacob.

Poor boy.  That son who was never meant to be: the child who never walked or talked or ate like normal people do, but rather lived those eight grueling years with a feeding tube and in diapers and who wailed all night long, as if he was begging God to take him to a world where he could run down hills on his own two feet and eat mounds of food – fried chicken and potato salad and apple pie and ice cream, and sing with a voice so pure and clear that the angels flew over to join him.  And then he got his wish after a long and torturous last few months, as his lungs filled with fluid and eventually sent him back to where he’d come – to the God who somehow had seen fit so many years later to grace Mary and George with this perfect little one now asleep in her cradle – her mouth lazily pursed and sucking as she dreamed of her mother’s breast in her sleep.

Mary sighed.  Why after all they’d been through was George now so angry, as if this child had triggered all of his pent-up feelings over Jacob – his birth, his life, and his death – and made him a brooding man with eyes that burned with pain?  A man, almost impossible to live with.

Almost was the word that sent Mary back to bed, slipping under the covers to feel her husband’s warmth.  Almost meant another day was possible, and then another and another.  They would make it through this.  There was no other option.  She would not be separated for even a day from this beloved child.  And despite his rage – his grief – because of it, she knew full well, neither would George.

A premature baby sleeps in an incubator in the natal intensive care unit in a public maternity hospital in Gatire

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