First by Matt Potter

“I grew tired of waiting,” she said.

White-knuckled, she gripped the clacking needles so ferociously she could have knitted the booties in gale force winds and they still would have turned out ankle-stranglers.

“You were always too busy building your train set.”

She smoothed her new pink-and-white-vertically-striped way-too-roomy smock over her stomach. Then counting stitches under her breath, she cast off.

She was right. Building the train took over a year. I gutted the second bedroom, turning the bay window into storage for spare rolling stock. Then I built a mezzanine for a replica of the Berlin U-Bahn, the grungy flower kiosks and bored commuters painstakingly realistic.

Now the thought of pulling it all down to make room for a baby zapped my strength.

“I can’t believe you went ahead and got pregnant without me,” I said.

“Well, you have a whole six months to get used to the idea,” she answered, knotting baby-blue yarn on the end of the row. She resumed her clacking, loudly. My lack of energy was fuelling hers.

“Don’t worry,” she added. “You’ll get a crack at the next one.”

“I could have downed tools for – what, two minutes? – to impregnate you myself.”

She threw her knitting in her lap. “Stop it, Brian! Just be thankful it’ll have red hair like you and no one will notice.”

That was true too. My identical twin brother had stepped into the breach and defended the family honour. Born five minutes before me he was still coming first.


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10 responses to “First by Matt Potter

  1. Twin brother! Sure wasn’t expecting that. And this, “Don’t worry,” she added. “You’ll get a crack at the next one.”, this is just cold. Well done.

  2. “coming first” is where I lost it and laughed myself silly. Great concept skillfully writ!

  3. Randal Houle

    nice twist and great punchline.

  4. I felt right in there with the two of them, it was cinematically visual and then your denoument — yikes. I felt bad for him. She was so cold and he wanted his trains to stay… terrific story

  5. “Coming first?” OMG, that was awesome.

  6. The way he recasts the situation in violent terms “stepped into the breach and defended the family honour” gets me thinking (beyond the laughs).

  7. LJ Prewitt

    The ending was set up perfectly; the structure was well thought out and in 250 words both characters are given a lot of dimension.

  8. The reaction to ‘First’ here and on Fictionaut seems to be divided along gender lines – men find it cold and women find it funny! Personally, I loved writing it and laughed the whole way through. (Interestingly, my partner thought it was written about his brother, who had just got back together with his estranged wife … to find she was pregnant to the man she left him for a few weeks earlier! Aah, daytime soaps!) Anyway, thanks for your comments – it is nice to think stories have an audience and others can appreciate them … though you all know that.

  9. Pingback: Week #21 – Unseen « 52|250 A Year of Flash

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