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News & Features » July 2020 » “Replaced” by Melissa Ostrom

“Replaced” by Melissa Ostrom

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, the littlest is not the littlest anymore!

by Melissa Ostrom

You’re supposed to be the littlest. You were yesterday. But look at this outrage, swaddled to a stiffness, head huge and ridiculous compared to the rest of it, skin red, little crusties in the eyes, not even cute. You’re cute. Wait. Is that your white blanket, striped like the cookies from Ecklof’s Bakery? And why is your mom lifting her shirt? Holy shit.

The last few months come back to you, how every night, your mom talked up the thing in her roundness, anticipated the fun you and the hidden ball would have, called it the baby, the little brother, started calling you the big sister, such a big girl. How big is baby? So big. She failed to prepare you. Worse, she deceived you. You think, I’ve been tricked.

And those grownups who stopped by last year and brought you the giraffe with the shimmering fur and told your parents, You already have the toys, clothes, stroller, so why not. Babies are cute. Give the first one a friend, and then chased you and took pictures of you and drank your parents’ wine. They’re assholes.

You take stock of the situation. You try to latch onto the free boob. Thwarted, you fly into your room and come out awkwardly, with mincing steps, mummy-wrapped in the flat sheet you ripped off your big-girl bed. Your parents see your humiliating effort and laugh. They laugh.

Now you’re beyond pissed.

Your dad hides his grin and tries to hug you.

You rage. You cannot be comforted.

They do not know: you are young enough to remember the plushness of that breast, the sweetness of that milk, the safe soft sea of the womb. You are old enough to miss them.


MELISSA OSTROM is the author of The Beloved Wild (Feiwel & Friends, 2018), a Junior Library Guild book and an Amelia Bloomer Award selection, and the YA novel Unleaving (Feiwel & Friends, 2019). Her stories have appeared in The Florida Review, Fourteen Hills, and Passages North, among other journals, and been selected for The Best Small Fictions 2019 and The Best Microfiction 2020. She teaches at Genesee Community College and lives with her husband and children in Holley, New York.


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: Jul 9, 2020

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