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News & Features » April 2019 » “Our Babies” by Simon Lowe

“Our Babies” by Simon Lowe

Are you a parent going through the Terrible Twos? Did you live through them and survive? Terrible Twosdays is a place to commiserate over the unending shenanigans of your Darling Children (as the online parenting communities say). Nonfiction stories will be considered, so long as names have been changed to protect the guilty. Inspired by our best-selling gift book for parents, Go the Fuck to Sleep, Terrible Twosdays joins the roster of our other online short fiction series. Unlike Mondays Are Murder and Thursdaze, we’re looking for stories with a light and mischievous feel, all about the day-to-day challenges of parenting. As with our other flash fiction series, stories must not exceed 750 words.

This week, a desperate father is subject to cruel karma while on a European vacation with friends.

Our Babies
by Simon Lowe
Multiple babies under one year old

We are in the South of France with our babies. Our babies cannot talk but find alternative ways to disrupt us. They scupper our plans, our fun, our lucidity. They are expert scupperers. I, for example, would like to sit by the pool and drink a beer. Ideally, I would do this alone, but equally I would not mind if one of our friends joined me. So long as there is an agreed embargo on baby talk. But I cannot sit by the pool and drink beer. Our babies will not let me. They demand our attention, consume every aspect of our diminished selves. None of us mind this much at home, in our baby-oriented houses. We expect it at home; we are prepared. But in balmy climes, in a villa in the South of France? It’s a hard pill to swallow. It’s a pill shaped like a golf ball. We feel our babies have crossed a line. We understand they do not know what it means to vacation in the South of France, to use up our hard-earned money on the misplaced hope of sunshine and joy. But still. Our babies have disappointed us. They have escorted us to the edge of sanity, yanking our hair and defecating along the way.

I feel especially bad for Joseph and his wife. They were never convinced about babies in the first place. They waited a long time. They drank every last drop of freedom before choosing to join us. They planned to try for three consecutive months and if nothing happened, so be it, no big deal. But something did happen. And now they are with us, wondering if it was in fact a successful roll of the dice. I must admit, their baby is worse than most. Or, to be fair, it is the worst of our babies. Ordinarily, I enjoy hearing Joseph relay his difficulties. It suggests my baby, and in turn my life, is not so bad after all. But after sharing the experience of Joseph’s baby, I regret their poor luck. I will be more sympathetic from now on, less gleeful, that’s for sure. I do not believe Joseph will offer his baby up for adoption or anything like that, but he admits he would like to travel back in time to when they were weighing their options and reverse the decision. He genuinely wonders, with this baby of his, if he can ever be happy again.

I suggest we work as couples, babysitting each other’s children, freeing up periods of time to relax in ways similar to those in the good old days. There is little enthusiasm for my idea. I retreat to the bedroom and sulk. Our baby is asleep in our bed. This is the most pleasant of surprises. I regard it as a rare opportunity, a unit of time on which to capitalize. I rush to find trunks and a towel. I smile when I hear the toppling, chiming cries downstairs knowing I will not be required to perform any shushing or cradling for at least an hour. My little darling is at rest. Surely ours is the best of all our babies. I grab a beer from the laundry room and in my excitement, nearly walk into a glass panel on my way to the pool. My wife appears holding two babies, one in each arm. There is a third in a buggy, a fourth rolling stupidly on a mat by her feet. I ask where the others are. My wife tells me they are out at a nearby bar. We are babysitting, as per my suggestion. She hands me a baby and shrugs. I can tell from its forceful squirming that I am in charge of Joseph’s baby. The worst of all our babies.  

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SIMON LOWE is a British writer with one novel under his belt, Friday Morning with Sun Saluki. His stories have appeared in Storgy, Firewords, Chaleur Magazine, Visible Ink, and elsewhere. He lives in a small town outside of London where he drinks tea and looks after his three-year-old son, usually simultaneously.

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Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Terrible Twosdays flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should focus on the challenges of parenting. Ideally, stories should be about children aged 0 to 5, but any age (up to early teens) is acceptable. Stories may be fiction or nonfiction.
—Include the child’s age at the time of the story next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Apr 17, 2019

Category: Original Fiction, Terrible Twosdays | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



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