baby, boy, drowning, flash fiction, ice, short story, snow, water, winter, writing
by Sonia Kilvington
You were a winter baby. Born in an ice white flurry of snow. We brought you home in our old camper van, strapping you into the baby seat that we had chosen together. I fussed about you being too hot and too cold, as everything needed to be perfect for you, my first and only child. Simon turned on the radio and we listened to a young girl who sang like an angel; and we felt blessed too. Turning to Simon as he smiled at me, there was that sense of deep knowing, that in that one single moment my whole life was complete, and as I gazed into your sweet, new-born face, I knew that you were my life; my beautiful, beautiful boy.
I remember you — feeling you lying beside me, even now. My hand smoothing over the hollow in the mattress that your body forged while you slept. Here was your head, your arm and your tiny foot. Listening carefully, I can still hear you breathing; soft light sounds as fragile as air.
I still try to live in that moment, to remember exactly how it felt, easing my way into its familiar grooves. It is essential to me, that it’s perfectly preserved, in its own precise and immaculate state, because if a single memory must be the sum of a lifetime, this one is mine.
When you became ill our world became much smaller. Eventually we were confined, you and I, to the bed in my room. Simon brought up a kettle and an old TV with a faulty aerial, switching them on in the afternoons. I liked to watch Oprah, and loved it when she sang, “Run with me, run on run on.” Dreaming of how it would be when you were better and we could run together and bask in the warmth of the sun.
When you had gone, everything fell apart. There was no more talk of the sun. Ice-cold water gushed over our heads, and kept on dragging us down. But up above, Simon saw a splash of light and rising up he skimmed out over the surface. I couldn’t see any sign of the light; perhaps I was already drowned.
When Simon left I wasn’t surprised; I’d watched him swell in the sun. He could taste its warmth like a prisoner released, and he was ready to move on. His new woman’s face looked a lot like mine, only lighter, without the grief. Her smile was too soft, her eyes too warm, and he was so pleased that she wasn’t me. He could start again, run on run on, a new life without you and me.
Sonia Kilvington is a journalist, short story writer, poet and novelist who is currently living in Cyprus. She is a regular contributor to poetry journals and websites, and has published a couple of noir tales too. Her first poetry collection, Dangerous Love, is in English and Romanian.