Flash Fiction 3rd Place: Giant of a Man by Jamie D Stacey
Get up at midnight, time to change the nappy, it’s your turn. Then take your son in your arms, comfort him, love him, and stay with him until he falls asleep. Don’t sleep — you have to watch over the small boy. At 3am you can sleep, you need to sleep a little; at 7am sharp it’s your turn. Don’t complain you’re tired; mummy is definitely more tired given the complications, given everything… Don’t complain the sun rises at 5am, and the birds screech their songs even earlier. It’s 7.01am — you’re still asleep? No one cares if you had trouble sleeping; the baby doesn’t understand your whining and whinging and now he’s crying. Get up and take care of his bottle, the bins, breakfast for mum, the dishes and dirty laundry, and afterwards you’ll have 2 maybe 3 minutes to get some food down you. Afterwards, it’s your turn. 7.36am, change the nappy. 8.10am, change the nappy. 8.59am, the baby has vomited so change the sheets, his clothes, yours, put everything in the washing machine — and don’t forget to change his nappy. At 12(ish) make lunch, have lunch, do the dishes and then play with the baby. Don’t play death metal, don’t let him touch your console, and definitely don’t leave him on his playmat alone. Be a good dad, and don’t forget to massage him afterwards to help him burp and fart; no one wants him to have colic. At 3.12pm you can give him to his mummy who’s still bruised and bedbound; don’t disappear, don’t go to the pub, don’t go out with your mates because you don’t have either the time or the energy, so try to have a nap because — 4.33pm, the baby’s awake, now change his nappy; the poor boy is developing nappy rash, so add Vaseline and change him more often. 6pm, make dinner; mum is sick of your tinned tomato and chicken soup so shake up the recipe. Don’t forget the salt and pepper; not too much, but don’t skimp either. Then wash up, take the baby, and reply to your own mother who’s been trying to call all day and is worrying. Reply to her everyday questions with authority and tell her goodnight, and yes, we’re fine and definitely don’t need her around any time soon. At 10pm you can get some shut eye, but only once you’ve watered the garden, finished the washing up, and put everything away in the cupboards and — a cry, a wiggle, mummy is tired and the baby needs a nappy change…
11:58pm, you don’t respond to your wife. 11:59pm, you head upstairs to help because the baby is screaming for Olympic gold, and there’ll be apologies galore with the neighbours in the morning. Midnight, he’s there, in his cot shivering. You take him in your arms and realise; you’re both holding on tight. He then fidgets in your lap and you smile, looking down at this small boy, looking up at this giant of a man.