Baby of Mine

Durham, New Hampshire, 1973 — Only one week left. Only one more week left until he would have two parents, not one.

Margaret studied her one-month-old infant son’s face, wanting to sear every bit of it into her memories because she didn’t know if she’d ever see him again.

She leaned her head back against the rocking chair. Why did you choose a closed adoption, Maggie girl? Why didn’t you keep it open? 

She heard a sneeze and looked down at him, smiling slightly. His face scrunched up and he sneezed a second and third time.

“Spring allergies?” she joked. “I have those. Annoying, isn’t it? To have your nose all plugged, and then you end up with dry lips because you’re breathing through your mouth…yeah, it’s one of the most annoying things in the world.”

His eyes opened and looked up at her. Brown, just like hers. And the tuft of reddish hair on his head was from her as well.

“As for freckles,” she said. “Maybe you’ll have them, maybe you won’t. Though, with how strongly you resemble me, you probably will. And hey, maybe your hair will darken.”

A tiny hand escaped the blanket as he stretched. Margaret barely brushed her own hand against it, but he was able to grab her finger anyway.

While she sat there, rocking him and holding his hand, she couldn’t help but wonder. “What kind of man will you become?” she murmured.

Connor only yawned. Margaret waited until his eyes had slid shut and he was sound asleep to put him back in his crib.

For a long moment afterward, she stared at her arms. She didn’t want to admit it, but she was dreading the moment he left them for the last time.

Chicago, Illinois, 2000 — Connor felt as though he would fall over any second. He shut the bedroom door behind him, quietly so as not to wake Kelly up. He had just set his handgun on the nightstand and bent to untie his boots when he heard stirring in the corner.

He looked up and saw movement in the crib, then walked over just as their one-month-old son let out a whimper.

“Hey, it’s okay, kiddo,” he said, gently scooping the infant up into his arms. “It’s okay. Daddy’s here, Daddy’s got you.”

He went out to the kitchen, prepared a bottle, then came back to the bedroom and sat in the rocking chair to feed his son. He pushed a foot against the floor, setting the chair in motion.

Leaning back, he closed his eyes, soaking in the calmness of the dawn. A harsh contrast from earlier, at that intersection with the blaring sirens and bright lights and-

Stop it, he told himself. You are not there, you are here. You are home and right now you’re simply a husband and father.

He looked down at Liam, who was by now halfway done with his bottle. A father who doesn’t even know if he’ll see his son grow up. Just like my biological father never saw me grow up.

“I don’t even know who he was,” Connor said, more to himself than to Liam. “Or if he’s alive. All I have of him is his name. Same for my biological mother.”

Noticing the bottle was empty, he set it on the dresser and set Liam against his shoulder to burp him.

“You know, I wish I’d known them,” he said. “I wish I knew why they gave me up.” Most of all, I wish I knew if they wanted me. 

After a few minutes, he settled Liam back into the crook of his arm. The infant reached out and his tiny hand brushed against his father’s badge.

Connor smiled and held his finger out for his son to grasp.

© 2018 H.S. Kylian

(Critiques are welcome and appreciated!)

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