I found maternity clothes in my closet. But I’ve never been pregnant – By BlairDaniels

Packing was going well.

Until I found the maternity clothes.

They were folded neatly, sitting in the back of my closet. Two pairs of pants, three shirts. At first I thought they were my sister Amanda’s – but when I checked the tags, they were Large. My size, not hers.

scary-clothes

I brought them out and examined them. They looked like my style – short-sleeved, hues of purple and blue. Maybe a gift I bought for someone, and forgot to give? Or maybe I just thought they looked cute, and bought them even though I wasn’t pregnant… But maternity styles aren’t exactly flattering on someone who isn’t pregnant.

I shrugged, threw them into one of the boxes, and continued packing.

But then I found something else. Shoved in the corner of the closet, under some blankets and old dresses, was a toy fire truck.

I picked it up, turned it over in my hands. It looked vaguely familiar, with the little yellow ladder and painted blue windows. Maybe it’s Brayden’s? Amanda, her husband, and their one-year-old son often came over to visit. Maybe they’d left it behind.

Shrugging, I slowly lowered it into the box.

Riiiing.

“Hey, Mom,” I said, layering clothes on top of the box.

“Hi, Rosie. We’ll be there in about twenty minutes. How’s packing going?”

“Pretty good,” I said, folding another shirt on my lap. “Actually, do you remember if Brayden has a toy fire truck? I just found it in the closet, and I think it’s his.”

A strange silence came from the other end.

“Mom? You still there?”

“Yeah. We’ll see you soon. Bye!”

Click.

When they finally made it to the apartment, they were eerily silent. Amanda was scratching at her neck, like she always does when she’s nervous. Eliot held Brayden, refusing to make eye contact with me.

“I need to tell you something,” Mom said, sitting at the table. The grim look on her face made my heart start to pound.

“Is that why you were so weird on the phone?”

She nodded. Then she sat down, and with a shuddering sigh, said: “That little fire truck… belonged to your son.”

“What?” I burst into laughter. “Mom, what are you talking about? I don’t have a kid.”

“No, but you did. You gave birth to a little boy, last year.” Mom pulled out a crumpled tissue and brought it to her eyes. I glanced at Amanda and Eliot. Neither met my gaze; both stared at Brayden, pretending he needed attention.

“When he was about three months old, you took him to the grocery store. On the way back, you got into an accident. You were badly injured, and he…”

He died?

Mom fell into quiet sobs. After several seconds of silence, Amanda spoke. “Dr. Albright said you have retrograde amnesia. When we realized you didn’t remember him, and saw that you were happy… we decided to leave it that way.”

“You’ve been lying to me this whole time?”

They nodded.

“I had a little boy… that I can’t even remember?”

“We were just trying to protect you,” Amanda said. Mom nodded.

I didn’t reply. I just sat there, in shock, staring into space.

And then I felt something on my leg.

I looked down. Brayden was standing there, holding the truck. With a pointed finger, he lifted the little ladder up, then smacked it down again.

Smack, smack.

I jolted up.

Images shot through my head. Cloudy and vague, in disjointed pieces, but that was it – I remembered something*. I was lifting the ladder, snapping it down, showing him how it worked*…

Smack, smack.

And then Mom walked in, carrying a bowl of oatmeal.

“Oh, Mom, thanks – but I’m not hungry.”

“Come on, it’s good for your milk supply.”

I took a few bites. And then I felt sleepy – so sleepy. “Why don’t you take a nap?” Mom said. “I’ll watch him. You get your rest.”

And when I woke up…

I was in the hospital, and he was gone.

My head snapped up. I stared at the three of them, my heart pounding.

And that’s when I realized it. Mom’s eyes were dry. Her sobbing sounds were the same rehearsed gasp of air, the same weak whimper of grief.

“You’re not crying,” I said.

Mom looked up at me. “What?”

“You’re faking it.”

Her eyes faded to anger. “Ridiculous! What kind of a daughter –”

Smack!

“What kind of a daughter does that to her mother? Ridiculous!” She was talking to Amanda in the kitchen, unaware I was standing right outside the door. “It’s an embarrassment! What am I supposed to tell Grandma?”

A loud clink, as Amanda set down her cup. “And it’s not fair. Eliot and I have been trying for six months. Nothing. Then Rose goes to a party, fucks some random guy she doesn’t even know, and – bam! – gets pregnant. I’m the one that deserves a baby. Not her.”

“I agree,” Mom replied, her voice taking on a strange, light tone. “That should be your baby. Not hers.”

I stared at the three of them. Acting, pretending like they cared.

Then I grabbed Brayden. Hoisted him onto my hip, held him tight against my chest.

And then I ran out of the apartment. I heard their yells echoing behind me – of confusion, of realization; but I kept running.

Brayden squealed with delight in my arms, still holding the little fire truck.