Here’s the winner of the fourth round of the SlingInk Scam, that I’ve been judging.
Delightful, isn’t it?
Written by Jocelyn Hayes
The baby at number twenty-seven, due on March the third, had arrived in November. She lived only for a few minutes. Her grieving parents called her Jasmine.
* * *
Along the road at number ten Olivia was playing with Richard.
‘Daddy,’ she said. ‘I need a wee.’
‘Off you go then, sweetie pie. You can go by yourself. You’re a big girl now.’
Obediently she set off up the stairs. After a moment she came back down. She stood shuffling from one foot to the other in front of Richard.
‘What’s the matter now?’ he asked.
‘I still need a wee.’
‘Did somebody leave the door shut? I’ll come and open it for you.’ Her father sighed and rose to his feet.
‘Daddy, there’s a baby on my bed.’
‘Really? What baby would that be?’
‘Just a baby.’
‘Come on, let’s go for that wee.’ Richard took her by the hand, but she pulled back.
‘I don’t want to go upstairs. I don’t like that baby. Can’t I use the potty?’
‘There isn’t a baby upstairs. We haven’t got a baby. Anyway, a baby wouldn’t hurt you.’
Urine began to trickle down Olivia’s leg. Her father sighed again.
‘Oh, Livy,’ he said. ‘What’s with you? You’re too big for this.’
‘I’m not going upstairs. Make that baby go.’
‘Why? Did the baby say something to you?’
Olivia looked soberly at Richard. ‘Don’t be silly, Daddy. She’s only a baby.’
Richard started to help his daughter out of her wet pants. ‘So what’s this baby called?’ he asked.
‘Ah. And how did Jasmine get on to your bed?’ Richard was using Olivia’s damp clothing to wipe the floor.
‘Through the window. The birds brought her in.’
‘Oh, really? And where did they bring her from?’
It was Olivia’s turn to sigh. ‘Where do you think? Heaven, of course.’
‘What ever, I’m sure she’s gone now, and we’ve got to go upstairs and fetch you some dry socks and pants.’ Richard reached out his hand. Olivia took it, and together they climbed the stairs. Olivia was still a little reluctant. When they reached her bedroom door she wouldn’t go in. Richard strode over to the bed.
‘You see,’ he said. ‘No baby.’ Then he noticed something nestling in the folds of the duvet. He picked it up carefully. It was a tiny, tissue-paper bird. ‘Where did you get this?’ he asked. ‘I’ve not seen this before.’
Olivia glanced at it and began to scream. She bolted into her parents’ bedroom and slammed the door.
It was March the third.