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Flash fiction is an umbrella term used to describe any fictional work of extreme brevity, including the Six-Word Story, 140-character stories, also known as twitterature, the dribble (50 words), the drabble (100 words), and sudden fiction (750 words)

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Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear. It says so right there on the lower half of the mirror. I wish it were true, but it is not. The curly hair I see reflected in the mirror is as distant from me as the stars themselves. Or may be even more.

My hands shook when I remembered how she had pulled him away from me and walked away. I was a nervous wreck. I could never hold him, never kiss him. He had been mine for a short while, but now, he belonged only to her.

The sky had darkened. A storm was brewing, and not just in the sky. The unexpected sight of him with her had set it in motion. I had to reach home before it burst and drenched me right there in the middle of the road. I pushed the button bringing the engine to life and sped away into a side street without looking back.

*****

That was surely her on the scooter? I’d have recognized that curly hair anywhere.  It was a wonder actually how he had curly hair too, just like her. After all he was not hers. I gave birth to him. A third child. For my brother and his wife who couldn’t have children.

And then he died. My handsome brother who was the life and soul of every gathering he went to. Loved and admired by all. We were devastated, and she his young wife, most of all. How could I give my child to her now that my brother was gone? She was a widow. Why would I want my son to grow up without a father? 

That’s why I took him back. I am ashamed of the way I grabbed him off her that last day. The memory of her tear-streaked face still makes me uncomfortable. But I did not have a choice, did I? I wanted my baby to have a regular home with a father, mother and siblings, a complete family. What could she give him?

*****

The door was still locked. It meant the children weren’t home yet. Mother must be keeping them that extra bit of time with her before she dropped them back. I didn’t switch on the light preferring to remain in the darkness with my thoughts for a while longer. The light from the street lamp illuminated enough of the garlanded photo on the wall for me to see that smile.  My husband. Fun-loving, kind and considerate. One fine day he left me, his life taken by a speeding motorist.

Let’s adopt a child as our own, he always used to say. But I was the one who wanted to take up my sister-in-law’s offer.  We’ll try for a third child and you can have the baby for yours.  I know you both will be wonderful parents to him. Besides we are all one family. All empty words as it turned out. When her brother was gone, she took away our son leaving me mad with grief.

One especially miserable day, I dreamed. He was asking me to adopt a child and make her my own. I was grieving at life’s blows and reluctant to entertain the thought at first. But eventually I did and after a long and arduous process, adopted the twins. My mother dotes on them and babysits whenever I have to go out of town on work. They are my very life and I am happy. But I miss him, my first child. Perhaps I’ll always miss him.

*****

Today we had another fight. It is always about money. It’s difficult to make ends meet with three school going children and the way prices keep shooting up for just about everything. Whenever the matter of insufficient funds comes up, my husband taunts me for offering to get pregnant and give the child to my brother and sister-in-law. Now we have to spend on an extra unplanned child, he says. Why does he forget he is our child? Our son!  The one we made together. But it is as if we have adopted a stranger’s child and he is the reason we are short of funds.

Sometimes wish I had left my son with my sister-in-law. I saw the girls she has adopted. They look happy contented children. It struck me, it could have been my son. We could all have still been one happy family. Now we are so distant we could be living in different galaxies. What kills me is the memory of my little one asking one day after witnessing a particularly vicious fight between his parents, ‘Ma, am I not your son?’

©Shail Mohan 2017

Daily Prompt: Distant

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