Congratulations to the winners of the NOWW Flash Fiction Contest.
Please enjoy the 3rd place winner, Laura-Lee Pernsky, and her story Mama Bear We will have the second, and first place winner posted very soon.
By Laura-Lee Pernsky
“You should take the baby and go for a walk,” he said on his way out the door.
I had never wanted to hit someone so badly in my life.
I know he meant well, but he thinks that he gets it. He held my hand through it all, sure. Counted the breaths. Brought me the ice chips. Woke me up when I fell asleep through pushes because I was just so exhausted from being torn apart, and then sat beside me as they sliced my belly open and removed our son from the warm cavity of my abdomen.
But he doesn’t get it. He doesn’t have flashbacks of blood stained sheets, of excruciating pain, of failing as our baby tried, no, demandedto be brought into this world.
And he doesn’t understand the new fears… of everything. Climate change. Measles outbreaks. People who drive too fast on our road. I have to protect this tiny boy from everything and it terrifies me.
It had been a brutally cold winter, and no one wants to take a newborn out in that. But now spring was tiptoeing in. The incessant drip, drip of melting icicles on the overhang of our deck. A sun that shone not only light but warmth through our picture window where I would gaze out both hungrily and fearfully as the baby and I would sit in the recliner to nurse and nap. I decided to brave it.
I bundled him up in a buffalo plaid bunting suit and tucked him carefully into the carseat, wrapping him in blankets and pulling a little knitted hat down almost over his eyes. I nearly forgot my own hat, but that’s what seems to happen when you become a mom. Off we went.
My first steps were tentative, as they are likely to be when you’ve recently recovered from major surgery. My thoughts remained dark despite the bright cerulean sky.
We went about a kilometre, then the exhaustion took over and I turned toward home. A sudden rustling caught my attention, and I froze in terror as a bear emerged from the underbrush in the ditch. She was so black she was the absence of colour. I couldn’t move, could barely breathe. Two tiny, scraggly cubs crept out behind her, and our eyes locked over our babies. She stopped and raised her muzzle, tasting my scent of milk and hormones on the April breeze.
“It’s okay, Mama,” I whispered as she stared me down, daring me to interfere as the cubs trotted across the road. Then she followed them and disappeared into the leaves.
I found a strength I didn’t know I had as I pushed the stroller home at a trot, and exhaled in relief as the door closed behind us. I picked up my son and hugged him tightly. The world was scary for every mother, but I could do this. He was my cub, and I was his mama bear, and we were in this together.
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