Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bluebell Books Short Story Slam -- Week 12

I'm back to the Bluebell Books Short Story Slam for this week--finally!  This is a blogger share-fair that I really missed, because the other participants are wonderful people that I love connecting with, and because the talent on this "slam" is breathtaking.  Please take a stroll over to the Bluebell Books site and check out the other participating blogs.  I promise you'll love them!

The prompt for this week is the photo on the right.

As heartwarming as it is, my dark side refused to take it at face value.  Here's the result; your comments and feedback are most genuinely appreciated.

You scare the hell out of me.  The innocence of your skin, the curl of your tiny fingers.  The abandon with which your back heaves in breath.  The texture of your hair—no, I haven’t touched it, and I won’t.  But it looks so soft, so—fragile.  Everything about you is fragile, and that’s what scares me.  Because it demands that I be everything, things I’m not sure I want.  Things I’m not sure I can.

How does anyone have children here, in this mad world of chaos and brutality?  How can anyone, in full conscious desire, make the decision to bring you—you—here?  You’re stronger than you look, probably.  Still.  The responsibility would crush a better man than me.

And, see, that’s the whole thing.  I’m not a better man.  I’m not even a good man.  I’m still a child myself, in so many ways.  I’m selfish and a brute.  I pretend I know what I’m doing, but I don’t.  Most of the time I’m scared, of everything.  Of making mistakes.  Of missing out.  Of living the wrong life.  Of not being enough.

And for you I’d have to be, wouldn’t I?  One way or the other, I’d have to be.  I’d have to have the right answer, I’d always have to be strong.  

I’m not.  I’m not strong, not enough for you anyway.  I’d want to, protect you, but I’m so afraid I’d do the wrong thing.  Drop the ball.  Drop you.

I’m not ready.

"Scott?  Sweetie, are you up here?"

"Over here."

"Aw.  She’s sleeping, isn’t she?"  Maddie stood on the side of the crib, looking at the tiny sleeping form inside.  "She’s beautiful.  Isn’t she beautiful, Scott?"

He nodded, smiled.

"Ours will be even more beautiful," Maddie said, reached over the crib to ruffle Scott’s hair on the other side.  

He looked up at her, let his eyes trail down to her pregnant belly.  Maddie had never looked more alluring.

"I’m sure she—or he—will be perfect," he said.

They hadn’t wanted to know the sex.  Makes it more exciting, Maddie had said, and Scott had smiled then too.  He’d been doing a lot of smiling the last seven months.

Maddie headed back to the bedroom door.  "They’re serving dessert.  Are you coming?"

"Be right there."

Scott heard her make her way downstairs, heard the murmur of conversation, the clinking of flatware and glasses.

The minute fist in the crib jerked, settled again.  Scott let himself look another long minute, then turned away.  He closed the door behind him softly.

I'm sorry, Maddie.  I’m just not ready.

Thanks for your visit, and especially for your comments.  I'm now off to read the other wonderful entries!


  1. Guilie, Great story, very sad but also has a lot of reality in it too. I remember not being ready either. I had my first at 21 and that is too young in my book. I told this same child to wait until she was 25 (she made it to 24) and she is a much better mother at that age, less selfish. Wonderful job! Blessings, Terri

  2. your words are powerful.
    Thanks for the passion for short story slam,
    much appreciated.

  3. I think your story echos many men and womens thoughts. It was a sad but so true story. I am very curious though, does he leave?

  4. Thank you for the visit! I'm glad you enjoyed this darkish take on the prompt. @Deana, I'm not sure if he leaves or not... I kind of hope he'll decide to stick around at least until the baby arrives, and then... Well, I hope seeing his daughter (or son) in his arms will let him know it's OK, his best is enough. But... Well, you never know.

    @Terri, I agree--I'm 38 now and, although I'm a woman, I feel exactly how Scott does. The responsibility has always terrified me. Probably it's something you can't rethink too much, but I agree that later is better.

    Thanks again for stopping by!

  5. Brutally candid... deep and sensitive too!
    No matter what the child-bearing age, there are pros and cons.
    People who have their kids at a very young age, say that they have more energy to appreciate "growing up" with their kids, although they may not always be financially secure or emotionally/psychologically ready.
    I suppose it differs from one situation to the next.

  6. So very honest... and so very real... and a touching sentiment. I'm not sure anybody's ever REALLY ready to have children--- really can't prepare for it, not completely.

    Well done :-)

  7. Thank you for the comments, Mish and e.a.s... Your visit is much appreciated. I'm glad the story touched you in some ways. Yes, parenting must be a tough one, no matter what age. I admire you parents out there (but I looooove my late Sunday mornings :) )


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