Absent Father (Short Fiction)

He stares down at the infant in his arms.

Opening his mouth in protest, he stammers, “Wait, nurse. This is some mist—”

“It’s no mistake, Henry. Xavier is yours. Maybe you’d think twice before deciding not to wear protection,” Nurse Walter responds, uttering the last sentence under his breath as he walks away to focus on other patients.

Henry’s mind goes into overdrive.

I can’t be a dad! I’m only 18. I can’t believe Olivia would be this cruel to risk giving birth naturally and just leave me with this kid! She knew it could kill her and look! Now’s she’s dead! My parents are gonna murder me. I can’t take care of him…

Henry walks out of the hospital, Xavier bundled against him. The icy December wind blows against father and son as they make their way down the road. Spotting a relatively warm spot amongst heaps of paper bags, banana peels, and other trash, he places Xavier in the dumpster, covers him with an old blanket, and walks away with his son’s plea for help ringing loud in his ears.

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