by Verity Sayer
“Okay now, one last push!”
She escapes my body so quickly, crying out just a little. She seems happy though. I hold onto her body, furled up like a hamster that can fit in one hand. I say hello and goodbye in the same sentence.
In eighteen and a half years we will meet in a café that neither of us know. She will order a caramel latte and a chocolate brownie, I will have a pot of breakfast tea. She will look nothing like I expect. Her spiky black hair will have turned into thick golden waves that rest just below her shoulders. Those tiny fingers that couldn’t even extend out of a fist will have stretched and hardened, decorated by a colourful collection of rings. I will examine her face for traces of that baby, as she examines mine for traces of herself.
She will comment on my eyes, “They’re blue, just like mine,” and I will respond with a smile and nod.
She will ask me about my life, my career, my interests. She will look for anything that she can latch on to, and ask no further about those things which differ from herself.
Her mother – her real mother, will be nearby, perusing the latest releases in an independent bookshop. She will be there simply as a safety net; her daughter will be too scared to come otherwise. At this point, I will have children of my own, two boys who I will adore with my whole heart. I will have memories of singing them nursery rhymes and blowing them kisses on their first day of school. I will have bad memories too: of them drawing on the walls in the kitchen and slamming their doors screaming that they hate me. And I will have all the boring, everyday memories in between. But there will be no memories of me and her.
I will only have this. I will have kind conversations about how beautiful she is, how talented. I will have harder ones when she asks about her father, and I will bow my head because I have no answer for her. I will love her, but not like I love my own children. I will offer her money if she needs it, even though I know she would never ask. In between the awkward silences, we will make each other laugh as I retell stories from a life that I chose to remove her from, and she will describe a happy childhood that I wasn’t in.
At the end of our meeting, her mum will thank me and I will see in her eyes she means more than just for today. I will smile at her daughter; my eyes will brim with tears that I will be embarrassed about later. We will shake hands because we aren’t quite ready for more. And I will say, “Well, Abby, it was lovely to meet you.”
Verity Sayer is a graduate from the University of Edinburgh and has started writing for fun in her free time.
Our Reader said:
This bittersweet snapshot into two lives is so beautifully written. I really enjoyed how the huge gravity and strangeness of the moment described, didn’t dally or overstate; a moment in life, where life was before, and would continue after.