Contest #159 shortlist ⭐️

If I Let You

Submitted into Contest #159 in response to: Start your story with a character accepting a bribe.... view prompt

74 comments

Contemporary Creative Nonfiction

If I let you touch her, will you please be gentle? Just squeeze her little foot, rub her hand, feel her soft head. Look, she’s smiling; she likes you.

If I let you hold her, will you please stop pouting? Here, come sit on the couch. Be gentle, not too tight—hold her head up. She’s new and little, and you must be careful. This is your sister; she lives here now, and I know she’s going to love you.

If I bring you your own blanket, would you please stop crying? Here, I’ll wrap it around your shoulders, all soft and warm. And here’s a hat for your head. Now you look just like your baby sister.

If I make you a snack, would you please settle down? Will you sit here at the table and eat your crackers, drink your juice? Your sister is hungry, and I must feed her. I know you want to help, but she is too young; she can’t eat what you eat yet. But she will grow bigger and stronger, and someday you can help. You’ll feed her carrots from a jar, or milk from a bottle. Be patient for now. Please eat your snack.

If I take you to Grandma’s house, would that make you happy? You can bake cookies together and decorate them with icing. Maybe Grandpa will let you sit in his big office chair and spin in circles. It won’t be for long, just a few days. You’ll have fun, I know it. Your sister is a newborn—a brand new baby, and sometimes new babies need extra attention. But I’ll see you in a few days, and I’ll miss you very much.

When I pick you up from Grandma’s house, we can get ice cream, would you like that? We will put your sister in the stroller, and walk to the ice cream shop, and sit on the bench together outside. You must eat it quickly or it will melt in the heat. I know you want to share, but your sister cannot have ice cream yet. Please, just eat your ice cream.

If I take you to the playground, would that help you calm down? I can push you on the swings or watch you on the slide, at least for a little while. I know how much you love the playground, but when your sister begins to fuss and cry, it will be time to go. She’ll need to eat, and we still have to go to the store.

If I let you push the cart, will you please stop screaming? You cannot scream in the grocery store. I need you to stop screaming. Please stop.

If I hug you tight, will you forgive me for screaming too? Please, let’s just go home.

If I give you this new toy, will you take it to your room and be a good boy? I’ll put in batteries, and you can push all the buttons and see what it does. Pull it across the floor and watch each wheel go around and around. Not too loudly please, Mommy’s head hurts. Your sister cried so much last night; she’s still a new baby.

If I turn on a movie for you, will you please be quiet? I know you like to be silly and loud, but your sister is finally asleep; you must be still. Anything you want, here, come and sit down. I’ll bring you a blanket, and your bear, and you can watch tv for a while. Mommy has so much to do, I’ll come and sit with you soon. Please, just watch your movie.

If I give you this pot and this wooden spoon, would you please get out of the kitchen? Go play, just over there. It’s nearly dinnertime and Mommy is trying to wash, and chop, and cook and it’s so hard with you underfoot. Everything is such a mess, and now I think I hear the baby crying. Or was it only a bird? Just please, stay out of the kitchen.

When Daddy gets home, will you go to him, please? Let him take you outside or read you a book. You can show him your drawings, or go ride your bike, or pretend you’re a frog and hunt for bugs in the yard—all the things I didn’t have time to do with you today. Your sister is upset right now, and Mommy must help her. I know you want her to come play with you, but she is too little to ride a bike or jump like a frog. Someday she will be bigger, and you can do all those things together.

When it’s time for dinner, will you just eat your food, please? No picking, or poking, or whining—just eat. Let Daddy pretend your potato is an airplane, or your chicken a choo-choo-train, and open wide for them to come in. Please don’t cry and complain, we’ve all had a long day. Just eat your dinner, it’s almost time for bed.

If I bring you the boat and the yellow rubber duck, will you please stop splashing? You’re getting water all over the floor, and Mommy’s trying to wash your hair. There you go, just sit still. Look at all the bubbles, here on your chest, your arms. You look like a little cloud—a sleepy little cloud.

If I let you pick out your favorite pajamas, the one’s with the dinosaurs dancing under palm trees, would that make you smile? I love when you smile.

If I crawl in bed with you, the bed you’ve nearly outgrown, will you let me hold you and tell you a story? Will you let me smell your hair, and kiss your face, and sing you a song?

If I tell you that things will get easier, will you understand?

When I tell you that you will always be my baby, will you let me lie here and fall asleep next to you?

Let me share your dreams tonight?

August 18, 2022 10:03

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74 comments

Michał Przywara
17:02 Aug 18, 2022

A lovely, frustrating story :) It's touching, because we have a bedraggled mother who clearly loves her kids, but it's frustrating because there is so much to do and nowhere near enough time in a day to do the. The line "If I tell you that things will get easier, will you understand?" summarizes it. The son won't understand, because he's still growing too. And the situation is therefore frustrating to him as well. We can often eliminate frustrations by focusing more on the big picture and not the little everyday hurdles, but that's not po...

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Aeris Walker
18:53 Aug 18, 2022

You saw everything in this story I intended to communicate, and as always, I so appreciate you reading and sharing thoughts. I think you missed your calling as a developmental editor. I’m glad you felt this way about the repetition, that it’s “reinforcing this challenging balancing act.” I think the technical structure and form of prose can be used to communicate something more or make an added impression in a story without adding extra words: blocky paragraphs, sentence lengths, sporadic punctuation, etc. Thanks for your close reading and...

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Michał Przywara
19:27 Aug 18, 2022

Oh, absolutely! It's like a higher level of writing, right? It's one thing to get a sentence right, in isolation. But then if you can tweak multiple sentences so that they work well together, yeah, that's beautiful. Very much a way to convey an idea indirectly.

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Michał Przywara
20:50 Aug 26, 2022

Woo! Congrats on the shortlist :D

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Aeris Walker
01:36 Aug 27, 2022

Thanks so much, Michal!! :)

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Zack Powell
22:05 Aug 18, 2022

Kudos for posting your story on a Thursday. I haven't been able to do that in a LONG time, so hopefully some of your motivation mojo will find its way over here. I quite enjoyed this one. I mention this all the time, but I'll say it again now: I LOVE unconventional storytelling methods. Monologues? Love 'em. Epistolary stories? Yes please. And this was no different. Honestly not even sure what this type of story is called, but I adored the structure. Beautiful formatting, and the mother's growing exhaustion just leapt off the page. I apprec...

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Aeris Walker
00:46 Aug 19, 2022

Zack, 1. I was determined to finish a story early this week so i could spend my Friday night watching mindless television like normal people. Check ✔️ 2. Thank you! I really enjoy these kind of unorthodox structures too. I actually find writing in good old 3rd person past tense to be the most difficult for me to feel a sense of connection with, and it feels flat to me, though so many people pull off amazing stories that way. Or whole novels. 3. The Krabby Patty secret formula….oh my gooooshhh..having flashbacks of a burger obsessed plankton...

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Zack Powell
15:03 Aug 26, 2022

Aeris! Congrats on the shortlist! It's well-deserved. (Don't tell anyone, but I totally thought you were gonna win this week.)

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Aeris Walker
15:26 Aug 26, 2022

🤐 the world will never know 😬 Lol, thank you SO much, you’re so kind. But hey, I am thrilled by a shortlist any day!!

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Bradon L
21:08 Aug 18, 2022

Another masterpiece Aeris! I almost pictured this as a mothers inner dialogue as she goes about her day to day life. Made me a bit emotional to be honest. My mom is my favorite human being by far and I can picture her throughout this whole story. Especially the last few paragraphs, I could hear her voice saying those things. Just fantastic! I’m going to show this to her when I get the chance. I am super behind on my reedsy reading, but I saw you won a while back.🎉🎉🎉🎉 congrats!! I look forward to catching up on your stories.

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Aeris Walker
00:28 Aug 19, 2022

Hi Bradon! There’s just not enough time in the day to read all the sorties on here, but I’m so honored you stopped by and took the time to read mine :) I really appreciate you sharing your honest reaction to it, and I love that it impacted you enough to want to share it with someone else—that’s sincerely the greatest compliment. And thank you for the congrats! Keep writing, you’re next :)

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Bradon L
19:12 Aug 26, 2022

Congrats on your shortlist!

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Aeris Walker
01:43 Aug 27, 2022

Thank you so much, Bradon 😊😊

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Suma Jayachandar
12:39 Aug 18, 2022

Aww this is such a tender, warm story. Like a hot chocolate at bedtime. Maybe it can take on an additional 'kids' genre too. 😊Thanks for sharing!

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Aeris Walker
13:31 Aug 18, 2022

Thank you so much, Suma! Yeah, I’m still not completely sure what the “kids” genre means—for kids? About kids? 🤷🏼‍♀️ I appreciate you reading :)

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Suma Jayachandar
17:13 Aug 18, 2022

Haha, I get you! I think both kinds of stories have made it to that category. So, you decide😆

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Suma Jayachandar
15:16 Aug 26, 2022

Congratulations!!!

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Suma Jayachandar
15:16 Aug 26, 2022

Congratulations!!!

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L. D.
12:01 Jun 03, 2024

Softly heartbreaking in it's beauty (and truth!). Crying, here. :)

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16:10 Jul 21, 2023

This definitely needed a shortlist. Or a win, but it ended up being shortlisted so hey! Just perfect. Love the style. I was looking for something different, unusual, and as soon as I start reading this, the story just slaps me in the face with a "Hello, is it me you're looking for?"

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Wally Schmidt
03:34 Dec 12, 2022

Such a sweet story of the adjustments mother and sibling need to make to accomodate a new family member. I like how the mother recognizes how the baby's needs will organize the flow of the day. Nicely written.

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Aeris Walker
21:42 Dec 13, 2022

Thank you so much, Wally!

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Brenda Wilson
18:06 Oct 21, 2022

Gosh as a mom with two kids I relate completely to this one! It's so hard going from one kid to two. But it's also so bitter sweet knowing they will grow up soon. Well done, you!

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Aeris Walker
03:16 Oct 22, 2022

Yes, it’s so true—and they really do grow sooo fast. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts! 😊

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11:12 Sep 16, 2022

This is a very clever use of the prompt, Aeris. When I think of someone bribing someone else, adults usually come to mind. But this makes perfect sense- a new mom juggling a small child and a newborn. Your story and writing style are excellent.

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Aeris Walker
02:11 Oct 15, 2022

Just saw that I never responded to this: but thank you, sincerely, for reading and leaving your kind feedback!

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Amanda Lieser
18:45 Sep 11, 2022

Hello! I popped on over and realized I had missed your story that got shortlisted a little while back so I want to start off my congratulating you on that! I really loved this perspective and a part of me felt angry for the “you” that this piece addresses. As the oldest, I absolutely connected with some of the things your character pleads about. I also love how this piece oozes love. Both of the parents love both of the children; it’s just a trying time for everyone. I also want to give a big shout out to the community you discuss in this ...

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Aeris Walker
17:37 Sep 13, 2022

Hi Amanda! Well thanks so much for reading this one too, I so appreciate your kind words. “Oozes love,” yes, I was hoping that would be the tone that came across in this piece 😊😊

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03:25 Sep 05, 2022

I love this story ❤️. It's so sweet.

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Aeris Walker
22:32 Sep 06, 2022

Thank you so much, Cynthia ☺️

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02:18 Sep 07, 2022

You're very welcome. If you'd like to check out my latest story, I'd welcome that. 🙂

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Aeris Walker
12:20 Sep 07, 2022

Absolutely!!

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23:00 Sep 03, 2022

So I just listened to you on the podcast and decided to come and reread your stories. You definitely have a natural gift for writing. Even with genres I dont normally read, I want to keep reading. Either because Im surprised and how much I enjoy it or because the writing is excellent that I want to keep reading to learn from it. Hopefully you keep adding stories for us here, and if you dont, make sure you let us know where you go! Or come join the discord!

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Aeris Walker
02:20 Sep 04, 2022

Hi Jaden! First of all, thank you so very much for your kind words and encouragement, I truly appreciate it. And thanks for listening! I heard your interview a few weeks ago, and definitely resonated with your goal of wanting to try your hand at short stories before moving up to a novel—the idea of beginning a novel seems so daunting, but I hope you follow through with it! I used to think discord was a video game lol…maybe one day I’ll join and see what it’s all about ;) Thanks again, looking forward to seeing more stories from you!

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04:43 Sep 04, 2022

Discord definitely started as a video game thing. Its really just a program for running private chat rooms. The one we have is amazing, its been great to have other writers to chat with and discuss the upcoming comps! You will definitely see some more from me. Im thinking I need about 50 stories before ill attempt a novel. Even going back to the beginning of reedsy, I can see how much ive grown in my writing.

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Aeris Walker
11:51 Sep 04, 2022

I feel the same! I notice in my early stories I literally switched tenses…unintentionally… so I have learned a lot just from the practice. And I think 50 is a great goal, but I will say that I have read some truly *amazing* stories on here that never received any recognition but highly deserved it, so you don’t tie your talent to winning. Reedsy misses a lot of gems ;)

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22:07 Aug 30, 2022

I love the way you wrote the story and constructed the sentences. Good job.

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22:07 Aug 30, 2022

I love the way you wrote the story and constructed the sentences. Good job.

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Aeris Walker
12:55 Aug 31, 2022

Thank you so much, Faith!

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Philip Ebuluofor
18:25 Aug 27, 2022

I think you are good at this. You keep appearing on the radar each week and each appearance is well deserved. Congrats.

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Aeris Walker
19:53 Aug 28, 2022

Hi Philip! Thank you very much, you’re so kind :)

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Philip Ebuluofor
15:56 Aug 29, 2022

My pleasure.

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Riel Rosehill
08:00 Aug 27, 2022

Oh so worthy of that shortlist! I'm late to read and congratulate you, but this was so heartfelt and beautiful. The love the first and second person narrative. Shows the sea of patience a mother needs and just how difficult that can be to keep all times. Also the struggle of being the older sibling. All the little details, the challenges in the everyday moments were done so well, with a perfect blend of love and frustration. Well done!

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Aeris Walker
20:00 Aug 28, 2022

Hi Riel! Aw, thank you so much. A “sea of patience” yes, you’re exactly right. As always, I really appreciate your sweet comments :) Think you’ll write something this week, or are you still working on your globe soup project?

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Riel Rosehill
23:17 Aug 28, 2022

I've started on something, but I'm on holiday Saturday to Tuesday with no time to write really apart from Wednesday - Thursday - Friday evenings... But I will try my best because I would love to submit a story for this week! It's going to be a challenge... We'll see what comes of it. And as always, I look forward to seeing your take on the new prompts. 😃

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Aeris Walker
12:56 Aug 31, 2022

Well enjoy your holiday!! Ha-these prompts are not sparking any ideas for me this week.

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Daniel Allen
21:34 Aug 26, 2022

I really liked this! I thought it was incredibly creative and a great take on the prompt. Congratulations on making the shortlist!

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Aeris Walker
01:35 Aug 27, 2022

Hey Daniel! Thanks so much for taking the time to read mine, and congratulations right back to you! I enjoyed your story :)

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Tommy Goround
21:33 Aug 26, 2022

Nailed it.

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Aeris Walker
01:37 Aug 27, 2022

😊😊

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Jeannette Miller
18:22 Aug 26, 2022

Congratulations on the shortlist! You've perfectly summed up the households of people bringing a new baby home while already parenting a toddler...The beauty of new life and the complications of adjusting everyone to it. Well done!

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Aeris Walker
08:29 Aug 30, 2022

Thank you so much, Jeannette!

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Gladys Morales
17:34 Aug 26, 2022

Wonderful piece. I feel like you entered my heart to spy on what I felt when my youngest was still a few days old. After I read your entry, I want to hug my children dearly, maybe both my eldest and my middle child deserve longer hugs than the smallest one, atleast for right now ;)

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Aeris Walker
18:32 Aug 28, 2022

Hi Gladys! I love your comment and am glad the story brought back memories of your own baby’s early days :) thank you so much for reading, I really appreciate it.

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