'He’s such a hairy baby!’
The smile wavered, tired lips trembling.
I looked at er, sagging shoulders resting on banked pillows, new-born cradled in weary arms, almost too slender to hold the burden. No motherly glow.
I smiled; professional, warm, my voice low and consoling. ‘I can come back another time, when you’re more rested. We don’t have to do this now.’
Her eyes flicked to the phone lying rose-gold on the bedclothes. ‘No. it’s okay. They’re waiting. You know, sponsorship and all that,’ she shrugged.
‘So you want the full package?
She nodded, ‘Filters?’
‘All part of the basic deal.’
Not all babies come out picture perfect but this one was unique. I’ve seen all sorts - totally bald, golden halo, caveman chic, wild curls, Mohican and toilet-brush. But this? A tangled jet-black weave stretching from brow to shoulder, like a romantic poet fresh from the garret. I wasn’t sure filters would be enough.
I’d checked her out before entering the private suite, of course. Standard practice for all potential clients at this exclusive, no-questions-asked Birthing Unit. Her socials were typical; a pastel palette feed of pale pink and summer-glow bronze. The golden couple, their perfect world and now, their perfect baby.
I leaned closer, murmuring low, ‘There’s always The Special.’
Hope sprang in her runny-egg eyes.
‘I’ve already spoken to the woman in the next suite but one. Her baby’s just a few hours older. Skin tone can be changed, easy. She’s already asked about a discount, so she’ll be open to a deal.’ I shrugged. Not too pushy, just a little nudge. Discreet.
I skimmed through the app on my phone, found the images and spun the screen towards her.
I breathed the price and saw her eyes widen, then flick to her phone.
‘Okay. Let’s do it. Now.’
Contract and non-disclosure signed and binding, money transferred to my account, it was the work of a moment to edit, apply the filters and Bluetooth them across to the exhausted new mother.
Walking down the corridor to give the woman in Room 3 her substantial refund, my notifications pinged. Tagged, ‘With thanks for the beautiful pics of my darling new baby.’
Not a hair out of place.
A bit about the writer:
Just as a pearl is a response to grit, Clare’s storytelling starts with a tiny irritation – an overheard remark, an odd photo, an argument, a weird dream, an intense café conversation. It’s a defensive ploy. Take what life gives you and turn it into something new. Upcycle. Enjoy!
Follow them @claremartinwrites