Rob Does Words
Treating fiction poorly since 2019


They met for the first time in the hospital.

For all the good they do, hospitals have an air of depression to them, particularly if you’re not a patient and have to wait.

The new father had taken to wandering the halls during the week or so since his wife had been admitted for the minor complications surrounding the birth. Nothing serious, the doctor had said, but better safe than sorry.

White corridors connected with other white corridors. Some were decorated with tasteful yet boring patterns, others were just the same sterile white paint. Other parents and parents-to-be crossed his path without word while he waited for something to happen.

“Hi,” someone said to him on the third day as he stood on the fourth floor balcony, one of his common smoking spots.

The new father turned and saw another new father, holding his tiny newborn child standing in the doorway. “Hey,” he replied. “Congratulations,” he motioned to the blanketed bundle in the other mans arms.

“You too, I suppose?”

“Mm, three days ago. They’re sleeping.”

The two men stood next to each other on the balcony enjoying what they could of the view overlooking the car park and nearby houses in silence. The young child stirred softly and gurgled. Both men smiled in that way new fathers do.

“Take it easy,” the new father said and went back inside, leaving the other and his gurgling baby to enjoy the twilight.

The new father woke up suddenly, the chair he was sitting in was both uncomfortable and unfamiliar. It took him a few seconds to realise where he was; the woman in the bed next to him brought him back to reality. “Hi, you,” he smiled.

“Good morning. Were you here all night?” his wife asked.

“I guess so. I sat down to say good night to you and now I’m here. Wheres the kid?”

“In the crib,” she nodded toward the other side of the bed, “still asleep.”

“It’s going to be a long time before its just you and me again.”

“We should make the most of it,” she giggled.

A head poked around the side of the curtain around her bed. “I thought I heard voices,” the other new father from the night before said.

“Oh hello again,” the new father said. “You’re still here.”

“Yeah, the wife is still under observation. Docs said there were a few things they want to check before her and the baby are released. How are you doing over here?”

The new mother smiled. “We’re doing very well. We should be leaving later on today.”

“Oh, which reminds me, we’ve got the meeting with the realtor tomorrow morning,” her husband said.

“I haven't forgotten, don't panic. But you should probably take care of that.”

“I was working on the same assumption,” he replied.

“What have you called the baby?” the other new father said, surprising them.

“Oh, we haven't made a decision yet,” the new father said standing and walking with the other man across to his wife’s bed. “How about you?”

“Juliana Beth. Each of our mothers gave their names.”

“That’s nice. Well, congratulations again,” the new fathers shook each others hands as the latter left to find his now expanded family.

Three weeks had passed and the new family of three had moved into their new home, out of the city limits, in the suburbs. The baby room had been given a new coat of paint, a chest for all the toys the boy would one day have and inside the crib, peacefully sleeping, he dreamt of whatever three week old babies dream of. His mother was never far away, her hearing now tuned for any unusual noises from the room.

The father was outside, examining the garden edges and trees when a familiar head popped up over the fence.

“Hey stranger,” the other father from the maternity ward said with a large smile on his face. “Welcome to the neighbourhood.”

“Oh, hi. What are you doing here?”

The other man opened his arms as if revealing something and stood back. “Well, I live here. With my new family.”

“Ohh,” the man replied. “I'm sorry. Thank you for the welcome. How is everyone? Fit and healthy I hope?”

“Hmm? Oh, oh yes. Nothing serious. The docs just wanted to be sure and all that. Everything is fine.”

“And the new addition is enjoying her new surroundings?”

“She loves it, thankfully. How about yours?”

“Hes a little off since Liz and I are still dealing with the move, settling in and all that, but he’ll settle soon.”

He opened the door in the dorm room and surveyed the cramped space. The two beds ran along either wall, with a desk at the foot of each. His roommate hadn't arrived yet so he had pick of sides. As much of a choice that was. He threw his backpack onto the left hand side bed and rolled his suitcase under the matching desk. He was standing at the window, seeing what could be seen when there was a knock at the door. “Hey, neighbour!” a cheerful female voice called. “Ryan!” she nearly screamed when he turned around.

“Ana!” he called back, recognising the girl he had grown up next door to, hopping across the room to gather her up in a big hug. “I haven't seen you in ages!”

“I know. I had no idea you were coming here for college.”

“You too. What are you studying?”

“Animal medicine. You?”

“Physics. Hopefully. Where are you staying?”

“Like, next door. Again,” she winked and skipped away, shouting “Don’t be a stranger,” at him over his shoulder.

Ryan wiped the sweat from his forehead and pulled his goggles off his eyes. He stepped out of the room and took off the gear that protected him from the heat and glare inside the lab. “Whew,” he said washing his face under the cool tap just outside the hot room. “I'm glad that's done.”

“Who are you talking to?” a voice asked.

He jumped and spun around to find his wife waiting for him. “Sarah! You scared me. What are you doing here?” he asked.

“I came to pick you up,” she smiled happily. “Assuming you're OK with that?”

“Of course I am. How’s your day?”

“Very good. I met our new neighbours.”

“Oh they moved in?”

“Yeah, a lovely couple, just married.”

“Names?” he asked, now totally curious.

“Uhh, James and Ana, I believe.”