The painting on the wall showed an elephant touching a heart-shaped flower with its trunk. The not-grandfather lifted it from the nail he had hammered in just a week ago.He lowered it into the box, on top of the colorful shelves that had left big holes in the room.The not-grandmother enveloped a pile of tiny shirts and hid them in a cloth bag.
The not-aunt turned screws in the wrong direction, closed things that were supposed to be open, packed objects that should remain unpacked: the crib, the pram, the nanny cam, the pacifier sterilizer.
The not-father was sitting on the garden chair with hospital papers by his side, more time on his hands than he had hoped to have now.
The not-mother remained in the back seat of the car, her hurting body next to the baby seat. Both empty. Her fingers stroked the letters on the white napkin on her lap, Laura. Back and forth, a gentle call, Laura, Laura. She buried her face in it. It smelled of soap, just soap; not of Laura, Laura, Laura. How often to make up for all the times she would not call that name?
She folded the napkin her daughter would never use. She had a daughter.
The mother got out of the car, sat next to the father. They held hands in silence and thought of the evening they chose their daughter's name, right there on the garden chair.
The couple got up and helped the aunt stack boxes next to the entrance door. The grandparents didn't wipe their tears when they entered the room, the whole family had them. The mother searched the box. She took out the painting she made and hung it up where it was before.
We are thrilled to announce our 2022 Best Small Fictions nominations: A girl by Melissa Llanes Brownlee Detached by Anika Carpenter ...
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