Relinquishment [Flash Fiction]

I abandoned my baby on the coast, the day the skies rained with fire and brimstone and God called the mighty wrath of hell upon me. I had the puling thing alone in the woods where only the birds and beasts could hear my screams of rage. I lose track of the hours that I lay there on rocks that I had coated with leaves. The leaves disintegrated beneath me because of my sweating and shivering. When it came out I didn’t clean it much, just gave it a rap or two on the back until it started crying and waiting for the next part that I’d been warned about. I didn’t feed it. It was my baby, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t. It did not belong to me and I had to give it back.
I left my baby on the beach where I had stolen the things to make it with. Back when I thought that it was the answer. But I learned differently. I learned with every rust specked nail that scaled me and turned me fish skinned. I made the baby out of curse words and spittle and the dust of murdered friends. I did all that. I did.
It is too late to repent. Either way I will die now and I long for the release with every bone that abandons my body in fatigue. But the baby which is not mine was to live a life. I despise it for what it has done to me. It disgusted me from the moment it stirred within me. I could not look upon its weak face and I will never know it if it ends up in Hell with me. But I know this – it was my responsibility and my mistake and I relinquish its life to another. I have done it enough harm. Let someone else choose to be cruel or kind.

Chance [Flash Fiction]

There was no reason in the world for them to meet that night. If anyone wants to prove the existence of Fate or God, they might use this example in their studies.

She was supposed to be on her way to London from Wiltshire, but the taxi she was taking (her father had given her the cash for it, she could never have afforded such an extravagant means of travel on her salary) broke down unexpectedly.

He was supposed to be halfway to America, but his sister called, hysterical, just as he was checking in at the Delta desk at Heathrow Airport. She was having her baby early, and her husband was abroad on business. When he told his sister that he was about to fly away as well, she screamed at him in no uncertain terms, and scared him so much that he decided it would be a good idea to get his butt to the hospital, pronto.

They met in a pub around the corner from the private hospital where his sister was having her baby, and where her taxi had broken down. They both sat alone at the bar, and it was only when she ordered her drink (“White Russian, and put in as much ice as you’ve got, I’m parched.”) that he realized she was there. He had the same drink in front of him, looking just as full as it had when he’d gotten it, because of the profusion of ice-cubes which had begun to melt as he drank it down.

“You’re having what I’m having.”

“Oh? Right.”

“No, no, you don’t get it. Nobody likes extra ice in their White Russian. I had a friend swear to disown me if I let him see me order it like this again.”

“Hm. Interesting.”

“No, listen, I’m not drunk, my sister is having a baby, I’m just tired – okay, right, sorry, I’m babbling, enjoy your drink.”

“Your sister is having a baby? Over at the hospital?”

“Yeah.”

“My dad owns that place.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

“So I should complain to you if something goes wrong?”

“He hasn’t seen the place in ten years. He just owns it. Sorry.”

“Interesting. Owning something and not knowing anything about it.”

“Pretty much like all our internal organs, you mean?”

“Never thought about it that way.”

“That’s okay. Most people don’t.”

“I’m Greg.”

“Martha.”

Lily and Jasper [Flash Fiction]

Lily pushed her sunglasses down over her eyes and stretched. The summer sun was beginning to set, and the tree she’d been lying under would soon be at the wrong angle to give her shade. That was alright, though. Her skin was hardy enough to withstand the evening sun’s rays.
A hiccough made her look down. Jasper’s eyes, almost impossibly big in his small, chubby face, were inquiring. Lily was fascinated by the way he always seemed surprised. Every burp, every laugh, every awakening seemed entirely new to him and full of excitement.
“Is that enough tummy time?” Lily asked. “Hmm? What do you say, big guy?” Jasper hiccoughed again in answer. Lily smiled and lifted him up into her arms. She leaned sideways and dug around the big bag her mom had helped her organize, trying to find the bottle. She discovered it tucked sensibly in an outside flap where it couldn’t spill over into all the bibs, diapers and wet-wipes that weighed the bag down.
Fussing a little, Jasper eventually latched onto the rubber nipple and – of course – looked surprised at the liquid that he was sucking from it. Surprise turned to pleasure and he half-closed his eyes.
“You look just like me when you do that, you know? Just like me. We both love good food.” Lily had decided before he was born that she would talk to Jasper just like she talked to anyone else. She wouldn’t raise her voice even one note into the high-pitched tones that her mother and sister used. Her mother thought she was being pretentious, but Lily didn’t care. She was going to give Jasper what she’d given up when she’d discovered, six months in, that she was pregnant. She was going to give him the scholarship she couldn’t use yet, the love that her parents had only sporadically given her, and the respect he deserved from the moment he was born.
The only thing she couldn’t give him was a father, and she hoped that one day she’d manage to fix that.

Foundling

A baby lay on the wide rim of the fountain in the middle of the town square. It was sleeping quite peacefully, wrapped in tattered green blankets. It was impossible to tell its sex by looking at it, since the only visible part was its face, which was still a little scrunched and red. The baby couldn’t have been more then a day or two old, and Maude Leary was astonished that it was sleeping in such a precarious position, on such a cool evening.

Maude was a sweeper. She walked around town with an old-fashioned broom made with nice long bristles tied well with a metal wire, and swept the leaves from the middle of the sidewalk to the edges. She did this all day, every day, from five in the morning until five in the afternoon. She’d gotten the job when she was seventeen, and even with all the changes that had been made in town hall over the last few years, no one had had the heart to fire her, even though she was the only employee of her kind. Maude was sixty-three now, but she looked quite the same as she had when she’d boldly walked into the now defunct old town hall and requested a job. She was, perhaps, more lined than she’d been at seventeen, but she still had the same sandy hair, the same spattering of freckles over her nose and cheeks, and the same wiry figure. She still wore overalls day in and day out, with a different colored t-shirt for every day of the week.

Today was a Tuesday, so she was wearing her purple t-shirt. Because of the cool weather, she had a scarf wrapped around her neck, too. Her hip was cocked to one side as she leaned on the familiar broom and watched the baby sleep on. “Well, I’ll be,” she murmured to herself. The town square was empty in the quiet before everyone got out of work and rushed on home, and a bird was cheeping absentmindedly in the nearby tree, doing its duty to the setting sun.

Quite suddenly, the baby opened its eyes. Its eyes roved this way and that until it found Maude’s kind, slightly mischievous, face. Her wide eyes met the baby’s and in a moment they seemed to understand each other perfectly. Maude took three steps and closed the gap between them. She saw now that there was a note pinned to the green cloth the silent baby was wrapped in. In big, slightly shaky, letters, it said: I NEED A HOME. Maude clucked her tongue, a habit she’d copied from her mother years ago. “Whoever left you here is a beast,” she informed the baby. A little hiccup came out of the tiny, pink lips. “You can chastise me all you want for it, but I still say they’re a beast,” Maude answered.

The big bell in the church began to toll the hour. Maude picked the baby up. “Our shift is over, little one,” she told the baby firmly. “Let’s go and have some milk, hm?” As the office building spewed out men and women in suits and the church bell continued to ring, Maude stumped off home.