The Eye of the Beholder by Damhnait Monaghan

[TW: This flash deals with an emotive topic.]

Jet-lagged and dirty, he races, breathless, down the hospital corridor, skidding to a stop outside the delivery room. Then he melts against the door because through the window he spies a baby in its mother’s arms: his baby, their baby.

She is swaddled in a fuzzy pink blanket. His eyes blur and the fuzz glows like a fairy spell. He takes in the wisps of coal black hair drifting from the white cap, like wilted flowers in a late snow. Her closed eyes are trimmed with a smoky ribbon of lash. Her tiny mouth is slightly open, top lip arched like hands pressed together in prayer. His wife’s long dark hair coils around their baby as if to bind them together forever. Her head is bent low, lips pressed to the face of their angel.

Softly, he pushes open the door. When his wife looks up, her face is an open wound. Before he can reach her, the nurse pulls him aside. At the same time, his cell phone picks up reception, pinging and pinging like a siren. The nurse whispers: so sorry…tried to reach you…

It is only when his phone falls silent, that he hears her ask, clear as a heartbeat, if he would like to spend some time with his daughter, before… Her voice trails away. He nods absently, though his only wish is to go back in time, to stand outside and gaze through the window. To stay in the moment of what he saw, before…

Damhnait Monaghan was born and grew up in Canada but now lives in the U.K. Her flash fiction has won or placed in various competitions and is widely published and anthologised. Her writing has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best Small Fictions, and Best Microfictions. Her flash pamphlet, ‘The Neverlands’ is out now with V. Press. She’s an Editor at FlashBack Fiction and tweets @Downith.