Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Baby Blue - Flash Fiction Challenge

This is my story for Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge this week. The directions were to write a story using a color in its title. 1000 words is the limit.

Baby Blue

by Chuck Knight

Zan and Mary were expecting a little boy. In a month, he’d enter the world, wide eyed, all the world a blur. 

This was their first baby. Things were looking good, right from the start. The genetic counselling suggested the future was bright.

Today Mary would have another check up. “There’s no need to worry. Really,” Dr. Hinkle said. But they did worry. 

“Even if the baby came out--” Mary said.

“Different-” Zan inserted.

“Yeah, different. I’d love him, of course. I feel him more everyday,” Mary said, her eyes searching Zan’s.

“Me too,” he said, nodding.  “I’d love him no matter what.”

In secret, Zan crossed his fingers and said a little prayer, before going to work. During the entire walk to work, Zan tucked his head.  

At work, he replenished the produce department, said hi to customers, but kept his head tucked. 

At lunch, he sat staring at his PB&J sandwich.

“Can I join you?” Jenny said. 

Not looking away from his food, Zan grunted consent. 

“So, it’s a month now, right?” Jenny said. 

“What?” Zan looked up. “Yes, yes! A month now.”

“You and Mary must be excited,” Jenny said, unzipping her lunch.

“Oh, yes. Yes, we are,” Zan smiled. The smile faded. 

“Jenny,” he said. “What was it like when you found out that Daniella was--”

“Autistic. I was relieved.”


“Yep. Relieved. It explained a lot of things and helped us take care of her better.  At first, I thought it was just her personality to not smile every time I smiled at her or to follow things. I figured she didn’t care, but then I knew something was a little off.”

Zan bit into his sandwich and nodded.

“Listen, I know what it’s like to worry about your baby turning out OK,” Jenny said. “It’s normal to worry.”

Zan choked down the rest of his PB&J and went back to work. 

When Zan got home, Mary was still gone. He flipped on the TV, and surfed through a barrage of nothing, finally stopping on Rosemary’s Baby. 

It was on the part where Rosemary goes into labor and gets sedated by Dr. Sapirstein. Zan watched as Rosemary’s discovers that she’s just become the portal of Satan’s spawn. 

“She just rocks him and smiles?” Zan said out loud. 

He heard the door. 


No reply.  He heard steps go down the hall to the bedroom. He rose and walked down to the bedroom.  The door was pushed to.

“Mary?” He called, entering the room. 

She lay on her side, away from him.

“Mary, you OK?”

He wrapped his arms around her. “What did Dr. Hinkle say?”

She wiped a tear from her eyes. 

“Is the baby OK?”

“Yes,” she said.

“Well, what did he say?”

“When our baby comes out, he’s going to be a little different,” she said.

“Like what?”

“Blue,” she said turning toward him.

“Blue? What does that mean?”

“Blue! It means blue!” she shouted at him. She rose and went into the bathroom.

Zan went back to the den and sat in front of a blackened TV screen. He rocked, gentle and serene.

Mary emerged from the bedroom, and began making dinner. 

They ate in silence. 

At the end of the meal, Zan reached for Mary’s hand.

“He’ll be the most loved blue baby in all of history, Mary,” he said. “I don’t care.”

She released a breath that she’d held onto all evening. She nodded her head. 

“I can’t imagine not loving this baby for something stupid like color,” she said. 

That night they began to plan for having a blue baby. The nursery, which had been green, was to be repainted blue. They’d get blue curtains and blue blinds, and blue lamps and lampshades. They’d get blue sheets, and a blue baby comforter. Hell, they’d even buy Smurfs to hang above the baby. 

They were going to let the baby know, as soon as he could begin to know blue, that he was fine. 

They worked all day Saturday overhauling the baby’s room. 

She and Zan were having a baby shower on Sunday. Holding out till the shower, they hadn’t announced the sex of the baby yet.

They decided to tell all at the shower. They ordered a blue cake, blue plates, blue napkins, blue utensils, and blue balloons.

The baker said, “So it’s a boy, yes?”

“Oh yes, a blue boy,” Mary said when she picked up the cake. The baker smiled and nodded but, when she’d left, he chuckled, a little uncomfortable. 

Everyone at the shower, seeing all the blue, looked knowingly at Mary and Zan. Zan’s friends patted him on the back. 

“Boys have much energy,” Mary’s mother said to her. 

“Mother we’ve not said anything about the sex,” Mary said.

“But, all this blue?” her mother replied.

Mary laughed. She flattened her blue napkin on her lap and looked at it. 

“There’s more to the blue than just the sex,” Mary said smiling. 

Her mother searched Mary’s face for signs of stress or fever.

“I’m OK, Mom, really,” Mary rose and pulled Zan away from his friends. They whispered back and forth. 

Zan quieted everyone down and said, “Yes, as you have gathered, we’re having a boy.”

Everyone clapped.

“That’s not all,” Mary said. “He will be blue.”

The claps slowed and stopped. Zan and Mary explained and answered questions. From this point on, people smiled at them in a different way than before. 

Angered, Zan was determined to shelter their baby from such palpable pity. 

The day of labor came. Baby “Blue” (as they decided to name him) entered our world at 11:58 pm on an April night. 

The doctor looked surprised.

“What is it? Is Blue ok?”

Zan held Mary’s hand as the doctor presented a bright (normal) pink baby boy.

“But, we expected a blue-” Zan said.

Mary squeezed Zan’s hand, a signal between them that he’d best be quiet. 

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