Story: a mother’s choice

A macro photo of a piece of dragonfly wing against a green background. The wing is transparent with black veins.
Photo by Timothy Dykes on Unsplash

Prompt: Two identical infants lay in the cradle. “One you bore, the other is a Changeling. Choose wisely,” the Fae’s voice echoed from the shadows. “I’m taking both my children,” the mother said defiantly.

I watched the children for a moment. One was looking up, not seeing much, but content with the colours and light that swirled around them. The other was looking around, fascinated by the world. Eyes too bright, too knowing, too wise. And yet. They were John’s eyes. John who would sometimes give a look that was wise beyond his years. Eyes the warm brown of fresh baked bread on a misty autumn morning. Sparkling with mirth and mischief and joy.

What was the right choice? The human world was a cruel and heartless place sometimes, I knew. I stayed my hand from where it wished to reach to the necklace I now wore. The wedding ring on it bent and twisted. No use giving the fairy watching me more to work with. Perhaps for a child being raised in the wondrous world of the fey would be kinder. I looked towards the creature that had taken my child. The grin it wore at seeing my apparent indecision was not kind. No, no-one deserved to abandoned here.

It would be difficult, raising a fairy child, but I could learn. Besides, Mother would know what to do. I’m pretty sure my brother used to be a hellspawn and she raised him right. A fairy would be easy in comparison.

I could love them both. And, if I was honest with myself, I did love them both. After all, they were all I had left of my John.

Just seeing John’s bright smile not once, but twice a day would be worth it. To see his brown eyes take in the world anew, filled with wonder. Yes, the choice was not the difficult part, that would no doubt come later. But with love we would get through anything, could endure anything.

So with a mother’s love wrapped around me like a cloak I walked towards the cribs and picked up the little bundles wrapped in soft leaves. I looked towards the creature still grinning at me with malice on contempt. I pulled on my mother’s defiance, on my aunt’s way to command room, on my sister’s strength, and lastly on John’s love and wisdom. I drew that all in and raised up myself and my voice. “I will take both my children.”