New Fiction: Mothers' Nature by Sarah Gray
Updated: May 22, 2021
The husband gloated with every kiss he bestowed upon the tiny boy's head.
"Smells delicious, like warm milk or a summer peach. I could gobble him up." His eyes closed, he nuzzled into the baby's neck making smacking noises as if devouring it. Overpowered by its stench, she gagged, nearly retching from the bottom of her stomach.
Past were the aromas of her childhood; rotting leaves, moist earth, decayed fungus.
People had said when she saw the baby she'd love it. Deeply and unconditionally, "There's a bond between mother and baby that doesn't even come close to any other relationship. Not even near." The mother-in-law cawed. In response, the son engulfed her with 'one of his hugs'. In return, she rewarded him with an exaggerated peck on the cheek.
"It'll get easier." The husband said, pulling at the nappy. Chubby legs kicked back and forth, attempting to evade the procedure. "It sometimes happens, don't blame yourself."
It sometimes happens. She wondered what he thought was happening. "No", she'd overheard him say, "No mum, I won't leave her alone." How could it be avoided, he left her alone almost every day. Customers to visit. "Boilers," he'd assured her, "don't fix themselves."
Today was ideal. Another boiler refusing to mend itself. And no, she didn't need a babysitter. The rain determined, left every surface soaked to a polished shine. As people will, they commiserated with her for the disruption to their outings and one, a man more beast with a hairy face, laughed "Better get that baby back home or it might be washed away!" "Yes", she agreed.
Soon, the crying began.
No longer burdened by the pushchair, she walked with a languorous step, trawling through the russet leaves and kicking them into the air. She inhaled.
Present were the aromas of her childhood; rotting leaves, moist earth, decayed fungus.
This was the only thing to do. She congratulated herself. She couldn't return, but everyone deserves a good mother. Hers would take perfect care of him.
Future are the aromas of her childhood; rotting leaves, moist earth, decayed fungus.
The crying receded, becoming smaller with her increasing distance.