MEMORY BOOK • by Stewart Baker

Danny checked to make sure the baby was really asleep, then quietly closed the storybook and placed it on the shelf. As he turned to leave the room, a title caught his eye: When I Had You, I…

The memory book. He remembered when they first found out they would be parents — Heather’s tears, her infectious, irrepressible happiness.

He’d bought her the book for Mother’s Day, halfway into her second trimester. She had laughed, promised to fill it out as completely as possible. They had spent the evening cuddled together, joking about how corny the questions were.

Danny took the book down, flipping through its pages. Blank, every one of them.

He remembered the birth. Everything went well until they reached the hospital and active labor started. And the bleeding. They’d performed a C-section to save the baby, but couldn’t stop the bleeding. Some kind of rupture.

“Let me see him,” Heather had whispered. Danny lifted their child, red and screaming, and placed him on her chest.

“My little Jonathan,” she murmured. “I’m glad …”

Danny closed the book with a snap and left the room. He stood next to the kitchen trash can for five minutes before admitting to himself he couldn’t do it.

He took out a pen, crossed through the prompt on the first page (“When I found out I was pregnant, I…”) and wrote:

Your mother was the sort of person who lived each moment fully. She didn’t have anything left to put down in writing.

He took the book back into the nursery, placed it on the shelf, and watched his son sleep.

Stewart Baker was born near London, England, but has spent many of the intervening years in the United States. He works as a librarian near Los Angeles and lives nearby with his wife, infant son, and cats.

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