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Imaginings of the Life Ahead

Short story By: Mathew Nicolson
Literary fiction


From her hospital bed, Tara imagines the life of her newborn son.


Submitted:Aug 20, 2012    Reads: 7    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


Intrinsic beeping defined the moment. Not the irritating, stressful kind that pierces a hole between the ears, but a reassuring presence, like the tweeting of birds in the early hours after waking from a nightmare. Tara hadn't heard birds sing in so long, and the life two panes of glass to her left had never at all, but that would come. A while life to fill with birdsong. The sparrows, the starlings, the harsh cry of crows; he would hear them all.

She let her head fall back onto the hard pillow and stared at the ceiling. Her mouth was parched. She doubted whether she could speak a word, but the nurses had tended to leave her alone recently, other than delivering painkillers and checking monitors with the usual frown. On a plastic, wobbly table next to her stood a jug of water, but she barely had the energy to even look at it. Besides, one of the countless tubes inserted into her flesh probably had water in it anyway.

With effort akin to climbing a mountain, she turned to her side and faced the interior window. The small room, hardly more than a cupboard, was poorly lit and she could see clearly the details inside. The glass cabinet, more tubes, the throbbing creature clinging to life. It was a waste of muscles, but she couldn't resist a small smile. Nothing in her life, not the blazing intensity of a sunset nor the sight of a crystal-blue meltwater stream in Greenland could tilt the weight of the beauty she saw here. Her son. Her beautiful son.

Tara sighed and closed her eyes as the saline dripped into her arm. He didn't know it yet, but he had so much ahead of him. It might have been difficult to imagine that skinny, vulnerable baby growing into a man, but Tara knew with certainty how he would flourish. She knew how he would grow up and hear the birds. She smiled again as she set her mind towards the future, imagining the life of her only son. A smiling face; a scrawny kind of handsome like his father. Flowing dark hair. Tara's eyes became heavy as she kept back tears.

A stumbling toddler, spitting saliva and too bold for his boots. Arms waving like frantic metronomes as he sets off to school. Twenty years time: would he be posing for a graduation photo, donning a square cap and doing his best not to look ridiculous? No difficulty there. A happy life; she scrunched her eyes shut and wished fervently. Wished for an enjoyable career - not just one that would pay the bills. For him to finally know a stable, loving family. There might even be children - Tara's grandchildren, her very own! The tears began to flow, neither tears of grief nor happiness. Bittersweet tears rolled down her face, and she lacked the energy to brush them away.

The beeping faded as her thoughts, her wishes, and prayers took over. Tara fell into a world of dreams, living every moment of her son's glorious life where the Sun never sets.

The delicate and beautiful boy's eye opened and he saw, beyond the smiling, lifeless body, a wren perched at the window. Its song failed to penetrate through the panes of glass, but its presence was enough to induct him into his new world where dreams would be endless.





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