First published in Apollo's Lyre (2007) - read editor interview
“You are so beautiful to me,” Karen murmurs. Chelsea Anne's head lolls in the crook of her mother's arm as they nestle in the rocking chair. Karen marvels at the tiny hands and feet and counts the fingers and toes one more time.
“Isn't she something?”
“Just like her mother,” says Stephen, perching on the edge of the hospital bed, elbows on his knees.
“You're everything I hoped for.” She lowers her lips to Chelsea's forehead, careful not to wake her, and then looks at Stephen. “You're everything I need.”
Stephen watches mother and daughter as the rocker carries them through time. Both are dressed in pink—nightgown and robe for mom, blanket for Chelsea. Slippers and booties. Matching cloth caps to keep their heads warm. Pink, pure faces. One untroubled, the other wrought with worry.
“I'm really sorry,” Karen says. “It's not how we planned it.”
“It's not your fault.”
Stephen needs to hold Karen in his arms, but he doesn't want to take away her time with the baby. There's so little of it left.