by Than Pence
Margaret admires her newborns, but is confused as to which is which.
|Margaret looked down at her two newborns, seeing them as innocent little boys. But she couldn’t stop the small fear from creeping inside, regarding their identities. They were identical, and a mother is supposed to know—so the media leads one to believe—but she couldn’t help wondering if Derrick was really Daniel or if Daniel was Derrick.
She kept the tiny hospital bracelets on for as long as she was told and then a few days more, but the qualities she associated with Derrick were now being portrayed by Daniel. Derrick would fuss about being put down for a nap, but now Daniel did. Daniel sometimes wouldn’t take to a bottle right away, but Derrick always did. It seemed they had swapped.
Margaret mulled over the idea that one should always have a black permanent mark on his hand so she could tell the difference, but she worried about any toxins such a marker might inject. She cursed herself for taking off the bracelets too early.
What would happen when they grow up?
What if Daniel was supposed to live Derrick’s life? What if Daniel turned out gay like her college roommate? Margaret believed her life’s path had been greatly set by her name alone. She knew people treated a “Margaret” with more respect when compared to someone named “Sandy.” And she liked that.
She knew she wasn’t being rational with her thinking but she didn’t want to be the catalyst for the ultimate identity crisis.
Derrick sneezed, or was he Daniel? She sobbed a bit, wondering how other mother’s coped. But, surely, no other boys had been so identical! Daniel began to move in his sleep, obviously because Derrick had sneezed. Or had Derrick stirred and Daniel sneezed? Her sobs grew in volume and her husband, Gabe, came to her side after hearing her from the next room.
She explained how she was upset over something so stupid because he could obviously tell the difference between his own boys. But Gabe looked at Margaret, hard and with a sadness. He sighed, looking into the crib.
“Honey, Daniel never made it.”
Margaret looked into the crib, and one of the boys vanished. A feeling of abandonment then welled up inside her, and she wasn’t sure if it was for herself or if it was coming from the other baby, because he lost his only brother.
She looked at the mournful Derrick. Gabe put his hand around her shoulder and rubbed her gently, cooing into her ear about how everything was going to be okay. Derrick kicked his foot and looked up into Margaret’s eyes, but she could’ve sworn it was Daniel.
Word Count: 440