BY KATIE KENT - United Kingdom
“Congratulations, you’re pregnant!” The doctor smiles encouragingly at the man and woman sat down in front of him.
“We’re having a baby?!” Peter’s face lights up as he reaches for his wife’s hand. But she pulls it away, her face pale.
“We’re not going to keep it.” Ann’s words are so final, so blunt. “Can you please give us some information about terminations?”
The doctor glances over at Peter, who is chewing his thumbnail, his expression downcast, and then back to Ann. “You’ve only just had the news. Why don’t you take some time to get used to the idea before you make any rash decisions?” It’s obvious that the husband really wants this baby. And from what he has experienced of Peter, he thinks he would make a good dad. He can see Ann as a mother, too. He hopes that she will reconsider.
“We’ve been so irresponsible.” She puts her head in her hands, her elbows resting on the desk. “We should have taken more care. This is the last thing we need.”
Peter puts his arm around Ann and plants a kiss on her head, sniffing quietly.
* * *
Later that evening, Peter finds Ann kneeling on the floor of their bedroom, her trousers dusty, with a box open next to her. She’s holding a pair of tiny blue boots, one in each hand. Tears stream down her face.
Peter goes over and sits down cross-legged on the floor next to her. Stroking her hair gently, he says, “Ann, don’t do this to yourself.”
“Do you remember the day we bought these boots for him? He was four weeks old when we saw these in the shop. They were a bit pricey and he was too small for them, but we just couldn’t resist. We put them aside for him to get a little bit bigger, to grow into them. But he never got to wear them.”
“I remember.” Peter’s voice shakes and he swallows a lump in his throat as he takes out a white baby-grow with pictures of farm animals on it, recalling the last time it was worn. They had been celebrating his first three months. Peter pictures him in his cot, gurgling happily as his dad read him a bedtime story. Neither of them knew that when they settled him down that night, it would be for the last time. He had had his whole life ahead of him, or so they thought. Peter would give anything to go back to that day, before everything changed.
“I don’t think I can do this again. I can’t go through it another time.” Ann’s hands tremble as she takes his favourite toy, a small soft toy elephant, from the box and clutches it to her chest. Peter can see her pain; he can feel that pain, too. But there is also hope in his heart.
“We’ve been given a second chance to be parents. Not everyone gets that chance. Having a baby was everything we ever wanted. It ended sadly last time, and I know how much it hurt you, losing him. But it doesn’t mean that it will happen again.” Peter puts the baby-grow down and kisses the top of Ann’s head.
“But what if it dies?” Ann bites her lip.
“What if it lives?”
Meet Katie Kent.
A writer living in the UK with her wife, cat and dog. Her fiction has been published in Youth Imagination, Limeoncello and Flash Fiction Magazine, amongst others, and in anthologies including The Trouble with Time Travel, Summer of Speculation: Catastrophe, Growth and My Heart to Yours. Katie’s non-fiction, mostly mental health-related, is published in The Mighty, You & Me Magazine, Ailment, OC87 Recovery Diaries and Feels Zine. Find out more at Katie’s website at https://www.katiekentwriter.com