Fast & Furious Contest Flash Fiction Winner: Lily’s Gift by Lori De Jong

“Tilda, she’s so beautiful, don’t you think?”

Tilda Atherton looked at the tiny infant girl in her sister’s arms. “Yes, Lily, but you remember what we talked about when you came to live at Hudson Place, right? How other families were waiting for a baby and could take good care of her. Remember?”

Lily’s bottom lip quivered as tears welled in her eyes. “Tilda…she’s mine. Jesus gave her to me. I can’t give her away.”

Tilda winced, her heart hurting for her sister, whose special needs kept her from understanding she’d been pregnant, much less able to articulate how it had happened. Leading Tilda to the agonizing decision to place her in a care home for her protection.

“Miss Atherton,” the nurse said. “Will the child be placed for adoption?”

“Yes.”

“No!” Lily cried. “Please! You take her. You’ll be a good mommy, Tilda. You can feed her and play with her and ̶ and teach her stuff, like you teached me.” She held the child out to her. “You take her.”

Tilda reached for the small bundle. She had no intention of raising the child herself. Lily would simply have to understand it was the best thing…for…the…

She brushed a finger down the baby’s downy soft cheek. She really was beautiful. So tiny and pink and perfect. Would she live a normal life? Or be fated to a life like her mother’s? Would she be a good student, would she like ballet? Would she understand the difference between right and wrong, safe things and things that were a danger? Would she be her mother’s daughter, or Lily’s crowning achievement?

She nestled the baby closer. Maybe this tiny girl was a gift, as much hers as Lily’s.

Tilda looked up at the nurse. “I’ll be taking her with me.”

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