Friday, June 2, 2017

Short Story: Penprints Flash Fiction Dash

Have you ever heard of flash fiction? I hadn't either, and then I saw Rosalie's Tweeted challenge to writers to participate in a flash fiction writing event. I impulsively signed up because why not?

I have to say, it's really hard to write something compelling in only 1,000 words. Try it sometime and you'll see. One particular flash fiction story is mentioned a lot, and for good reason. It's powerful and evocative in only six words!

For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.

Bam. It hits you right in the feels. 

Here is the prompt Rosalie sent me. I quite like this song.

So, here's my attempt. I hope you like it:


Rosamund rolled onto her left side in bed, then back to her right. She pulled the covers over her, then pushed them down.

“Rosie,” Desmond whispered. “Are you okay?”

Rosie faced him. “I can’t get comfortable. I’m dying to lie on my stomach.”

“Sorry,” Desmond said as he reached over to put his hand on Rosie’s round stomach. He leaned down and whispered to baby Roberta. “You’re keeping your mom up, Little Girl. Knock it off.”

Rosie laughed. “Fat chance.”

“She’ll be here before you know it,” Desmond said. He let his arm rest over her. “And you’ll miss having her all to yourself.”

“I doubt it,” Rosie said. “I can’t wait to see her, see what she looks like.”

“Me either. Try to go to sleep.”

“Okay,” Rosie whispered. “Goodnight Des. Love you.”

“Love you too.”

Rosie lay still and listened to the crickets outside the window. Nearby a cat yowled. She forced her eyes closed and focused on breathing in and out, hopeful that it would put her to sleep.

Rosie’s eyes popped open. It registered in her mind that she was lying in a puddle. “Desmond, wake up,” Rosie said as she tried to roll out of the bed. As she stood, water gushed from between her legs. “DESMOND!” Rosie screamed.

Desmond sat bolt upright in bed. “What? What’s going on?”

“I think my water broke,” Rosie said as she started to cry. “Desmond…” A contraction built inside her. She stood unmoving until it passed.

“Rosie?” Desmond was beside her, his hand on her elbow.

After a moment she could speak. “We have to go to the hospital.”

“Are you sure your water broke? Isn’t it too early for that?”

Rosie nodded. She looked at him with wide eyes filling with tears.

He hugged her gently. “It’s going to be fine. We get to meet our baby tonight.”

“But it’s so early… What if she doesn’t...”

“She will,” Desmond said. “I’ll get your bag,” he said as he let go of her. “You just get to the car.”

Rosie nodded and moved down the hall. She had to stop twice for contractions, and water continued to trickle down her leg. She could hear Desmond behind her opening and closing drawers.

Finally she reached the car. She tried to open it, but it was locked. “Desmond!” she screamed.

He ran into the garage with a bursting duffle under his arm. “Let’s go.” He unlocked the door and helped Rosie duck into the seat. He strapped her in. “Ready?” he asked.

“Please hurry,” Rosie whispered.

“Don’t worry,” Desmond said. He ran around the car, threw himself into the driver’s seat, and put the car in motion. He hit the brake too hard upon backing into the street and made Rosie jolt forward.

“Careful,” Rosie growled. Another contraction wrapped around her back toward her stomach. She tried to breathe through it as her lamaze instructor had taught her.

“Remember, he he who who,” Desmond mimicked the breathing she had practiced.

Rosie glared at him.

Desmond drove carefully to the hospital.

Rosie was at once thankful and furious. The ten minute drive felt like an eternity.

Desmond stopped directly in front of the hospital doors.

An orderly came out to meet them. “Can we get a wheelchair?” Desmond asked.

The orderly retrieved one and directed them to the elevator. “Third floor,” he said. “I told them you’re coming.”

The nurses at the desk smiled at them as they approached labor and delivery. “Good evening,” one said.

“She’s only thirty weeks,” Desmond said. “Isn’t that early?”

The nurses glanced at each other and one of them walked briskly away from the station. The remaining nurse smiled gently at him. “Don’t worry. We’ll take good care of you. Maria has gone for the doctor on duty.”

Desmond exhaled. “Thank you.”


Desmond could barely breathe as Rosie gripped his hand. She let out a guttural cry with each push and went limp between them. He tried to get her to look at him, but she kept her eyes clamped shut.

Finally, nurses flooded into the room. A bright light came on as they set up the warming tray and receiving instruments.

“She’s coming,” the doctor said. “Two more pushes Rosie. You can do it.”

“No I can’t,” Rosie whispered. “No,” she said more forcefully.

“You have to, Rosie,” Desmond said. “She’s is almost here.”

Rosie gathered strength from deep within her and bellowed as she bore down with all her remaining strength.

Desmond looked toward her legs in time to see a tiny, bluish baby girl slide out from between Rosie’s widespread thighs. She was so tiny. And silent.

The doctor picked up the baby and gave her a quick whack.

The baby let out a garbled wail. Desmond broke into a grin and kissed Rosie’s temple. “You did it, Rosie. She’s here.”

Tears streamed down Rosie’s cheeks. “Can I hold her?” she asked, but the doctor was handing off the baby to one of the nurses.

“Take her to the NICU,” he ordered.

“What’s going on?” Rosie asked. “Where are you taking her?”

The nurse carried the swaddled baby out of the room.

“Rosie, your baby was very early,” the doctor said. “She needs some help breathing.”

“Is she going to be okay?” Desmond asked.

The doctor didn’t respond immediately. “I’m hopeful,” he said finally.

Rosie let out a loud sob.

“What’s her name?” the doctor asked.

“Roberta… Birdie,” Desmond said.

“The nurses will take good care of her,” the doctor said as he sat between Rosie’s legs, stitching her up.

Desmond held Rosie close as she cried.


Rhythmic beeping was the only sound in the room as Desmond watched Rosie. She sat beside the incubator that held their tiny Birdie.

Rosie was permitted to hold Birdie’s hand, so she sat unmoving, staring at their baby girl and caressing her wee fingers. “Mama’s here,” she whispered.

Desmond leaned down past the IV poles to smile at their preemie girl. “Keep fighting Birdie. We’re with you.”

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