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by Lisa Ferranti

In the beginning, we asked for blessings to be bestowed upon us. We had always been blessed. Happy childhoods. Top universities. Budding careers. Still, we longed for more — partners, families, healthy babies — the gender irrelevant, but we found out in advance because there were nurseries to be painted. Miniature clothes to be bought.

The weddings, lavish. The children, plentiful, a dozen in four families. We moved, the core of us, to the right kind of neighborhood bordering the city, not quite waterfront, so our brood could grow together — different colored skin and locks, but all sporting sun-kissed cheeks, windswept hair.

Then one family among us migrated to a house on the lake. We were happy, jealous. We bided our time. Surely, we would follow.

At the housewarming party, we admired the architecture, the spacious in-law suite, suggesting things to come, but not yet, not nearly yet. We stood on the veranda and watched the children run, sandy toes kicking and splashing. We kept watch, until our cups runneth over, our blurred vision reflecting the green of the immaculate lawn sloping toward the beach, growing more lush in dusky light.

We forgot the collective parenting code. We knew not what could happen, that split second before, after, until one blonde head was missing. Duck, duck, goose. Eleven where twelve should have been. A single name called out in a chorus of voices, lost on the wind, in the waves.

We stood by one another. By the water that night. At the funeral, later. At brunches, soccer games, graduations since. Our prayers have turned to bargaining, not for we, but for me, mine. We all know it, and we can’t quite meet each other’s eyes. Now everywhere we look, instead of beginnings, we see endings. We see blessings too bountiful to bear.

Lisa Ferranti’s stories have appeared in Lost Balloon, Reflex Fiction and Literary Mama, among others. Her fiction has been a Top 25 finalist in a Glimmer Train Family Matters contest, twice short-listed for the Bath Flash Fiction Award, a Reflex Fiction contest finalist, and highly commended in 2018 Hemingway Shorts contest and NFFD 2018 micro competition. She lives with her husband, son and daughter near Akron, Ohio. @lisaferranti on Twitter.