Angels | Fiction

This story appears in full in the short story collection, You, Me and the Rest of US: #NewYorkStories. The book is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.

angels abortion choices women creative writing fiction alex clermont writes

The newborn looked like a mutant raisin. That was all Kathy could think of as she stared her niece in the face. The pale thing lay on her sister-in-law’s chest and looked back with black dots that couldn’t see more than a foot away. She was wrinkled, with facial features that Kathy couldn’t describe other than to say that they were there. Her nose was there; her ears were there; her mouth was there. They were all there, but they were as shapeless as a dream. The only thing Kathy could say for certain was that the wrinkles in the baby’s skin made her look like a raisin that had been exposed to some transmogrifying chemical out of a comic book.

After a few seconds of eye contact, the baby began to slowly move its mouth, working herself up to a cry that made Kathy stand up straight when the sound eventually came out. As she set her pocketbook down on a chair next to her mother, Kathy asked, “So what are you going to name her?” Hospital policy only allowed two guests during visiting hours, but Jacob managed to sneak in his parents, his sister Kathy, and some in-laws that Kathy didn’t know by name.

Jacob said, “We decided that if it was a boy I would name it, but if it was a girl Tanya would.”

Jacob then looked at Tanya lying on the hospital bed. With the attention of the room on her, she held her newborn daughter and said, “Angela.” Tanya’s slight eyes were dull, her skin glittered with beads of sweat and her black hair was tossed across the pillow with no care at all. She seemed happy nonetheless. She looked warmly at the infant girl in her hands—lifting the child off her chest to look at her face. “She’s our little angel.”

“And what would you two have named it if it were a boy?” Kathy asked.

This time Tanya looked at Jacob who smirked and said, “Jacob Rajeshwer Junior.”

Everyone in the room, except for Tanya’s parents, laughed at his lack of imagination. “Hey, it’s got roots plus Jacob’s a good Christian name.”

Kathy said, “I forgot that’s a thing with you now.”

"No need to mock my beliefs ’cause you’re jealous of my cool name.”

"No one’s mocking, Jacob.” Kathy kissed him on the cheek and said hello to the unknown in-laws who were orbiting Tanya and Angela. They all exchanged quick, friendly smiles that only took a second or so away from their joyful and quiet observation of the baby. Kathy took off her jacket and got ready to take up space for at least the next hour. As soon as she sat down, though, she remembered the present she had left in the car.

“I’ll be right back,” she told Jacob. “I forgot something in my car.”

Almost no one took notice as Kathy got up and walked into the hallway, but Jacob followed behind her—late by a few seconds and behind her by only a dozen feet.

“I’ll go with you. I need a cigarette break or something. Maybe we can catch up.”

“I don’t smoke, but yeah, I’ll stand outside with you.”

“That’s what I said. I need a cigarette break.” He laughed. “I’m the one looking at dirty diapers and sleepless nights. Be grateful you don’t have any stresses to smoke away.”

“I guess,” she said as he caught up to her. They walked to the elevator and she let out a sigh that Jacob didn’t notice. Kathy hadn’t talked to Jacob in months. She hadn’t seen him in almost a year. Her excuse, whether legitimate or not, was that she had just been promoted. Her career wasn’t necessarily more important than her brother, but she enjoyed it and there was only so much she could do with an ocean between them. Really, they lived in other worlds. What could she do about that? Nothing was the answer.

This story appears in full in the short story collection, You, Me and the Rest of US: #NewYorkStories. The book is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.