2017 AMAB/HBF Flash Fiction Contest | Short listed Story - Still Miracle By Michael Larry | The Arts-Muse Fair

If you had stayed until you turned six, you would have witnessed the birth of Adanne- Small and soft in her toes and her fingers and lips too. You would have smiled when your mother say; “Nna, play with her na… she’s your sister”. You would have watched her grow like trees—strong and beautiful, and eventually get married like others do. You would have gone to same school with her and it would have been her who will tell you that the black girl with plump butt and long hair in her faculty is Chika and that she doesn't do boys.

You would have been handsome. Of course your father was handsome. He had sparse gray hair sprinkled among the black ones. You would have caught girls in the web of your mouth. But you would’ve also been into guys too but on a low-key. Your sister would have been the only one who knew this about you. She would be the one you will tell about your first experience with Kosi when you went for Youth Service in Taraba. She would have asked how it felt and you have said; “In that bed as we talked after he had kissed me and swallowed a huge chunk of me… it felt like I was breathing a different thing, not oxygen”. She would laughed and called you lover boy and you being the boy you would’ve been, would have said; "Shut up, like you don’t do mushy things too”, with a face that is threatening to shatter with happiness.

If you had turned twenty-four, you would have gone to London for a writing workshop. You would have been better than me writing your story. You would have written mine better; because you would have learnt the concept of tense that keeps eluding me. You would have met Shade there; the Yoruba girl that would have made you wonder if you are more straight than Bi. But it wouldn't have mattered.

You guys would’ve dated for sometime; the whole of the workshop and more two months at home in Nigeria. When you break up, it would be with stories. She would write you one about a vase that was kept permanently on a table behind the window but is wondering how the view from the window will be. You would write her one about a boy who thinks home is walking with wind and finding new kind of air to breathe in.

You would have gotten a daughter if you had made it to thirty. A nice, big-eyed girl that would call you Daddy even though you adopted her. She would have gotten that smart mouth you loved in people and you both would played Ludo; deep into some nights, and Scrabble on some cool afternoons. She would have been the joy of your mother and sister after your father died and you would have loved her like water and life.

Let's say when you turned forty-five, she would have been fifteen and even more beautiful. You would have promised her everything you could give, and time would have stolen you before you made good on those promise.

When you click fifty, it would be like it was fast forwarded. You take her to the beach, she drowns; you wallow in and grief and drink like you were anemic and trying to replenish blood with spirits. You would leave a note on the third week of your grieving; a note because you wanted them to know how you loved her, that it become impossible to move on with loss. It becomes a vacuum cleaner swallowing your insides as fast you don’t have the shout for help. You tell them goodbye, the type the living accuse the dead of not saying.

If you had waited, just a bit, when you came out of your mother that day in the hospital, she would have kissed you amidst tears and called you an Igbo name that your grandfather had used in his time; a name that we would have pronounced like a proud young woman who had succeeded in matching her new husband in bed.  It would have been a happy day for your mother and the nurse who had helped the doctor deliver you would have cried as she smiled at your mother kissing your small face. If you had stayed at all, maybe just two days she would have known how it felt to breast feed a baby-- the feeling of being suckled by something so fragile, so delicate. On the first of the two days, she would sing some old song that have stayed in her family for some time, on the second, before you go still she would have kissed enough hope of you coming back from your lips.

When you came out, you didn't scream. You just stayed there, unmoved by your mother’s soft sobs that turned to full wailing when it dawned. You did not move, not even to carelessly look at the crushed doctor or the crying nurse. If you had stirred in the fifth minute or the thirtieth, it would have been a miracle. You would have been the one the enemies almost snatched but fought his way out. Your mother would have sung you testimony, but you did not. You just stayed still, let the people out feel like they had chased you from life, like maybe they did something wrong.