FREE short story by Colin Devonshire

To Write a Wrong

“Yes, yes, I’m coming. But, I must finish this first,” Geoff said. He grabbed an A4 sheet from his printer, balled the paper and missed the bin.

“I’m sick of waiting for you. I’m going now.” Cyn, Geoff’s girlfriend, shouted from the bottom of the stairs. 

In the tiny second bedroom, Geoff was studying the ceiling for the umpteenth time that morning. He slammed the laptop shut, there was an unwelcome sound from the aged machine.

“Christ, what now?” He was scared to open it.

“I’m going this minute,” Cyn screamed, the front door creaked as she crashed it into the shoe cabinet behind.

Geoff grabbed his jacket and descended three stairs at a leap. The door slammed shut as he finished tying his shoes.

“Wait, give me a minute.” The porch ceiling got stared at.

He banged on the bonnet of their car as she reversed to turn into the road. The passenger door flung back, Geoff leapt in as the door narrowly missed the gate post.

“What’s the mad hurry? The doctor is always late,” said Geoff.

“This is our first baby, I want everything to be perfect.”

“If I don’t get my work done, we won’t be able to feed it!” 

“If you keep on, you won’t even see it,” answered Cyn, sniffing away tears. The ten minutes to the surgery passed in silence.

The doctor began her work with pleasant chit chat and then some tough questions.

“Are you getting enough sleep? What are your stress levels? And eating?”

The answers satisfied the doctor. 

“Please lay on the bench and lift your shirt.”

Geoff walked in circles, looking up and scratching his chin. Cyn snorted.

The doctor watched his movement, as she checked Cyn’s rising temperature.

“Please don’t get stressed out. Every expectant couple worries, it is normal.”

“I wish it was the baby, he freaks out about missing deadlines,” said Cyn.

The doctor raised her concerned eyes. Gripping Cyn’s wrist.

“Baby is barely moving, I can hear only the faintest heartbeat. I suggest you check into the hospital. I mean this minute.”

“What,” said Geoff, “Sorry, I was miles away. What do you want?” His eyes flitted from one woman to the other. The doctor shouted orders.

“I’m moving next door to the hospital, you go home and fetch my toothbrush.”

“Oh, is that bad?”

“Yes, you idiot. Get my stuff.”

Geoff padded upstairs to the small room and slumped at his desk. His fingers were itching to tap his keys.

He slowly lifted the Mac’s lid, remembering the odd noise when he had shut it earlier. The screen, normally dark blue sky greeted him, was black, a jagged crack ran diagonally across it. The stars from his background picture no longer flickered. He wanted to cry. No copywriting, no money. He was suddenly jolted backwards as he placed his hand on his trusty workmate’s screen.

“Christ, what am I doing, I should be thinking about Cyn and the baby.” Life’s reality hit him hard as he fingered the sharp crack. “Sod the work.”

Warmth spread up his arm as the computer suddenly burst into life, the stars not only returned, they glistened.

Geoff opened his work file, not the ad agency page, his diary. 

“The last time I used this I was hungover, after a party at Cyn’s friend’s house, I think?” 

He flicked to today’s date and started typing.

“We have been to the quack’s surgery this morning, painful truths hit me in the gut, Cyn and the baby’s agony struck me for the first time. I am now scared for my family.”

He grabbed a bag; her wash stuff and the pink toothbrush, swept them in a holdall, a pair of knickers and a bra joined them. He flew down the stairs. Speeding to the hospital, careless parking and running inside and up the stairs.

Expecting the worst, Geoff stopped in the doorway.

Cyn’s tears were rolling down her cheeks, she was beaming. A huge smile greeted the father to be.

“The baby is fine, little heart thumping, and the tiny body is wriggling like an Olympic wrestler.”

“Do they have wrestling in the Olympics?” smiled Geoff.

They hugged.

“What did they do?” asked Geoff.

“Nothing, that’s the weird thing, my doctor is puzzled, as soon as they started the tests, I, we, was fine. They want to monitor me, but I can go home tomorrow.”

Half an hour later, Geoff went to see the doctor. “Thank you, doc. Whatever you did worked fine.”

“We did nothing, I can’t believe the change. I’ve seen nothing like it.”

Geoff, deep in thought opened his laptop.

“Dear Diary, Incredibly, Cyn and the baby are fine. Why? Why the problem, and why was it fixed so easily?”

Geoff leaned back and started thinking of his sister, two years his junior, he missed her. He could see her now as a three-year-old, how they chased and ran from room to room up and down the rickety stairs at their parent’s old house, in and out to the garden. Dodging mum’s flowers, jumping over flowerpots and ducking rose thorns. 

“You hide, I’ll count to fifty, then I’ll come to find you,” he said in his daydream.

“Where are you?”

His sister’s scream shattered his dream.

Running down the stairs, grabbing his keys, diving into the driver’s seat, rushing to his parent’s place in the countryside, fifty miles away.

His phone vibrated in his trouser pocket. A snatched glimpse confirmed it was his dad.

“I’m on my way,” he said.

“But you don’t know why…” his dad was cut off.

Geoff could see his mum, dad and sister jumping for joy in the driveway as he rounded the corner.

A distant, dreadful memory had never left him, it returned in a flashback. She had hidden in the outside toilet; it smelt of powerful bleach after a recent scrubbing. Little Beatrice spotted the bright purple plastic bottle, she had never seen the fluid before, undoing the top, Beatrice inquisitively squeezed the bottle and sniffed it. Geoff burst in.

“Got you, found you!” 

The detergent splattered into her eyes. 

Back to reality, Geoff shook his head, his father’s urgent pulling at the door chased Geoff’s memories away. 

“You’ll never guess?” he started.

“Beatrice can see again?” answered Geoff.

“But how do you know?”

“I can’t stay long, I wanted to see you all and share our joy. Then I must go back to my writing. In my diary!”