A Whisper of Words

By Steve Campbell

whisperAnd here you are.

Your mother gets those first few moments; a reward that she’s more than earned for the gifted nine months. A quick wash, a cotton blanket and you’re melting her heart with a hello of coos and slow blinks – it’s not the last time we’ll cry today.

With your mother resting, the midwife whisks you away to check fingers and toes and then I finally get to say hello. The waiting room of oohs and ahhs can wait.

I gather you up, handling you like a doll made of tissue paper, so that I can recite to you the words I’ve been preparing for months. I’ll tell you how I’ll rub your back whenever colic tightens your chest and wakes you at night, and then stroke your face until sleep washes over you. I’ll describe how my arms will be poised during shuffled first steps and then outstretched when you’re able to leap from the sofa into a mountain of cushions. I’ll explain how wiping away the soap bubbles will clear the sting from your eyes and how your hands, cupped in mine, will be soothed with warm breath after playing too long in the snow. I’ll describe speaking softly to you on the first day of nursery, as I finger-comb your hair and how, while grinning from ear to ear, I’ll wave at you from the audience of the school nativity. I’ll talk about untangling you from a jumble of tying shoes and how I’ll never ever let go of your bike until you’re absolutely, positively ready to pedal on your own. You’ll hear how a hug can give you the courage to learn in a unfamiliar school and how I’ll be filled with pride when you graduate. And finally, I’ll tell you about loving, losing, rising, falling and rising again, and how each day brings you closer to a time where you’ll be cradling your greatest achievement in the palm of your hands.

But, when I hold the blanket aside to look upon you for the very first time, those words are gone. They’re stolen from me by hands that can barely grasp and replaced with a whisper of words that I hope are enough.

“I’ll always be right here.”

You can find the words of Steve Campbell in places such as Sick Lit Magazine, Ad Hoc Fiction, Twisted Sister Lit Mag, The Drabble, Dog-Ear, Occulum and on his website: standondog.com. Follow him on twitter here: @standondog.

Photograph, Dmitry Chernyavsky

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