1885

Not my usual writing style, but thought I'd have a go at a downbeat short story. It basically tells the tale of a 6 month old baby, revealing any more would spoil what happens later on ;)

 

The first thing that I remember was the screaming of my mother as she died whilst trying to give me life. My father held her dying hand as her life-force failed. She gave up the fight and lay sprawled out and motionless on the best bed of my parents, the bed on which my life began. She was now but a statistic, just another mother who had died whilst giving birth in the foul year of 1885.

All was quiet save for my wailing at the shock of leaving the womb into the big wide world. My grieving father dismissed the doctor and the midwife and once again, fell silent. We must have stayed in this monotony for at least half an hour until I was picked up and cradled in someone’s arms. I was instantly relaxed and fell into a deep sleep, the first of my short life.

When I awoke, it came to my attention that I was gazing upon my father for the very first time. Something about him made him seem tough but gentle, and I was instantly attached to him. I stirred in his arms, and he looked down upon me and smiled. It was the worst smile possible to start off your life seeing, as whilst overjoyed, it had a distant, mourning taste to it, and that made it all the more haunting to my tender eyes.

I wriggled around in my father’s firm grip, and saw my mother, the woman who gave me life, lying sprawled out and dead. It stirred my emotions. I felt like I was to blame. I wanted to know her, love her, but, thanks to me, she was no more. I cried. This was not an ordinary wailing cry, like the one that had befouled the mourning ears of my family earlier, but a cry of sorrow, a cry of lost chances and regrets, a cry to try and defy the unfairness of life.

Either my imagination had flourished in the few hours that I was alive or my father caught the sorrow in my cry, and reacted almost instantaneously by starting to weep. However, he was a stronger man than I, and pulled himself together, and proceeded to help me overcome my stress.

He boldly walked out of the room, but not without a last glance at his former wife. Putting on a brave face, he trotted down the stairwell and carried me into a room where my siblings sat. They were twins, one born male and the other female. Their names were Robert and Caroline respectively, and following their Christian names was the family name of Browning.

Robert was dressed rather scruffily for a businessman’s son, wearing brown suspenders and a white shirt. My father always said he ought to be in the mines or up a chimney, as I was to find out.

Caroline seemed to be more appropriately dressed, wearing a red dress with white frills, and the first thing that I noticed about her was her striking resemblance to the lifeless form of my mother that lay motionless on the 4-poster bed.

My father spoke in a very well acted tone of voice, and the first words that I can remember him saying were: “Children, meet William James Browning, your new baby brother”

They didn’t seem all that bothered about meeting me, but I don’t blame them, as they had stormed in to the makeshift hospital ward just before my mother’s death.

“What happened to mother?” Enquired Caroline, with the sweet, inquisitive tone of an 8 year-old.

Even though this question was an inevitability, my father was still rather taken aback when the words reached his ears. Regaining his former confidence, he said, with a sigh, “Your mother is not in pain anymore, but with relief from pain comes death, so, my darlings, I’m afraid that your mother has gone on to the next life.”

The room was as silent as it was when I awoke in the arms of my father a few moments ago. Robert was the first to beat the silence away. Unfortunately, his anger was directed at me.

He menacingly walked up to me and shouted “You did this! You never knew my mother, and you never will!” (At this point, my father was trying to calm Robert, but his attempts were in vain) “Thanks to you being born, none of us will either.” He struck me on my bare stomach, and the pain was excruciating. I cried once again, still for the loss of my mother but with despair, anger and pain thrown into my cocktail of emotions. My father shouted at Robert and sent him scurrying away.

Caroline was in shock, for she had never heard her father shout like that before. She went pale with fear, and darted out of the room, leaving it silent once again, my father standing alone.

The End

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