When I grow up I’m gonna be just like Mummy. Mummy told me I was gonna have a little brother soon and then her belly got bigger and bigger. Daddy had to help her lots; she was too tired to play with me sometimes. I would walk around with a football or a pillow underneath my t-shirt and pretend to have a large belly just like Mummy. She’d smile and laugh and rub her belly and sometimes she’d make me put my hand on it too and I could feel my baby brother inside. He would kick – he wanted to come out and play, Mummy told me.
After baby Ben was born Mummy and Daddy bought me a baby doll and a pram so I can push my dolly around like Mummy does. I love Ben and I love my doll which is called Ben too. I fasten him in his pram so he is safe and doesn’t fall out. When Mummy is feeding Ben a bottle of milk I feed my baby doll too. The baby doll makes noises and its eyes open and close when I tilt it. I copy Mummy and rest the baby over my chest and gently rub its back. Baby Ben has fallen asleep and Mummy puts him in his cot, pulls a blankie over him, and watches him sleep; she sometimes smiles and her eyes are always shiny. I’ve looked in the mirror lots of times to see if I can make my eyes go shiny too.
Tonight Ben is crying so Mummy picks him up from his cot and rocks him in her arms. I do the same. I make the same hush-hush sound Mummy makes and I bounce lightly on the balls of my feet. His crying is getting louder; I make crying sounds too because my baby isn’t real and can’t cry any louder. Ben won’t stop crying and Mummy’s face is red and she starts crying too. I want to be just like Mummy so I pretend to cry. I mimic Mummy’s panting. Mummy yells get to bed. I go away with dolly and I hide behind the door because I need to see what Mummy does to make Ben cry if I’m gonna grow up to be like Mummy. I imagine another me which I mime shouting at so I can be just like Mummy.
Through the crack in the door I watch Mummy lay Ben on the sofa, so I rest my baby on the floor. His little arms and legs are thrashing up and down. Mummy is still crying as she grabs Ben’s blue blankie, folds it into a rectangle, and holds it over his face. She presses it down hard as if she is trying to touch the floor through the sofa. She’s sobbing lots. Ben is getting quieter and quieter.
I run and find my blankie so I can be just like Mummy and make my baby sleep too.
Santino Prinzi is currently an English Literature with Creative Writing student at Bath Spa University, and was awarded the 2014/15 Bath Spa University Flash Fiction Prize. His flash fiction and prose poetry has been published, or is forthcoming, in various places including Litro Online, Flash Frontier, the 2014 and 2015 National Flash Fiction Day (UK) anthologies, Unbroken Literary Journal, and has been selected for The Best of Vine Leaves Journal 2015. His website is https://tinoprinzi.wordpress.com and his Twitter is @tinoprinzi.