Authors Note: Hey everyone hope you’re doing well. Here is a new short story for you, I hope you enjoy it and if you do, lets have a chat in the comments!
8 min read
“That’s not my baby! That’s not my baby! Where is she?!” Screamed Jess, a sickly thin woman with green eyes murky with tears. She struggled to press the alarm but once she did, nurses and doctors stormed in within seconds. She’d already met some of them, yet their equally worried expressions made it hard for her to tell the difference.
“That’s… She… That isn’t my baby. Where’s my baby?” She continued, realising her legs were threatening to give up entirely. A young male nurse managed to steady her, and she allowed him to hold her up while she fought to take in a full breath. A doctor, Dr. Hadley Jess thought, rushed over to the wailing infant that lay restlessly beside the bed. She checked the tag around the her ankle, frowned and checked once more.
“Mrs. Johnson, the tag says she’s yours. This is your daughter Poppy, look.” Dr. Hadley said, trying her best to speak as softly as she could, as not to upset her further. Though her efforts were in vain, as Jess immediately protested with the force only a mother could possess.
“No! You’ve got it wrong. I just gave birth to her, I know the difference! That’s not my baby. Find my baby!” Jess retorted through gritted teeth while repeatedly scraping her greasy blond hair back. She managed to gather enough strength to stand on her own and waddle over to the baby who was still crying. If that was her daughter, surely, she would’ve felt an instinctual need to comfort it? But Jess felt nothing at all. She wanted her baby.
“See? My baby had a little red birth mark on her calf. Look, see this baby hasn’t?” For a moment she felt hope. She thought she’d provided enough proof for them to lock the hospital down and search room by room. Though her hope was soon snatched from her grip as she noticed the nurses and doctors exchanging expressions of collective doubt.
“What’s wrong Jess?” A tall man called as he hurried to her side. “What’s wrong? Is it the baby?” He added, his voice slightly breaking at the thought. Dr. Hadley studied his expression when he finally gazed upon the child. He placed a gentle hand on her cheek, his breath catching in his throat as he realised, she was okay.
“George, no! That’s not our baby somebody has swapped them over. Don’t touch it!” Jess then wedged herself between the baby and George, like a human border. He ran a trembling hand through his brown hair and began ripping at the skin around his fingernails. He then attempted to rest an assuring hand on Jess’s quivering shoulder, but she pushed him off with an angry grunt.
“What are you talking about Jessica? Of course, she’s ours. Look at her, she looks just like- “
“Are you blind as well as stupid? That isn’t my baby. I need to find her.” Jess yelled as she snapped her head toward the few doctors that remained, with gritted teeth and clenched fists. Her eyes no longer housed sadness alone, anger and fear had moved in and made their presence known.
“Jessica, I promise you, we will do everything in our power to sort this out for you. But first, you need to take a deep breath and sit down please. You’ve just had a C-Section, you can’t risk ripping your stitches this soon after. We’ll find your baby.” Dr. Hadley soothed as she gently guided her towards the worn chair in the corner. By some miracle, Jess conceded and allowed herself to be comforted by the chairs experienced fabric. She wondered how many tears it must have absorbed over the years and how many of them were born of such fear as hers.
“Mr. Johnson, can we have a word outside?” George nodded and began to walk towards the glass door. Before he passed the threshold, he stole another look at the baby, who had managed by now to sooth itself.
“What’s happening Doctor?” He asked, fear radiated from him like a log fire.
“I’m not sure. It’s possible she is having some adverse effects from the pain med’s she’s had. Or it may be possible she’s right. But that’s why I wanted to talk to you.” George continued to peel the skin around his nails until beads of blood adorned his fingers like rubies. He hardly noticed.
“But… The baby, she looks like she’s ours. How could anybody mix them up? Is that possible?”
“I checked her identification tag, it says she is Poppy Madison Johnson. But something your wife said struck me as a bit odd, just before you came in. She said her baby had a red birth mark on her calf. This baby doesn’t. I checked her chart and there was no note of any marks. Do you remember a red birth mark? Maybe it only became visible later.”
It was as though somebody had stolen the colour from his cheeks and the air from his lungs. He simply stood there, a former shell of the man Dr. Hadley had met the day before. He swayed unsteadily, opening and closing his mouth as if the words he wanted to say were jagged blades.
“George, what is it? It’s important I know everything, if something’s happened to your baby, we need to start looking for her. But if you know something, we- “
“Our baby did have a red birth mark on her calf.” He managed to whisper. Dr. Hadley took a deep breath and, in that moment, prepared herself for what needed to be done.
“Wait… Our baby did have a red birth mark on her calf,” George battled the tears and steadied himself against the wall, while Dr. Hadley shot him a puzzled look. His eyes were full of torment as well as something else. Something more. After a short and uncomfortable silence, he finally spoke.
“But she’s gone. She was um…” George gave up the fight and allowed his tears to fall like hot rain during a storm. “She was Still Born. She had the birth mark.”