Cuckoo [September Contest]
Cuckoo [September Contest] stories
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After her fourth miscarriage, my wife and I decided to stop trying for a child of our own. The children that we fostered, we agreed, would be enough to fill the void. Most of them leave after a few weeks, either adopted into new homes, or returned to their original family. Some stay longer; a few months, a year, rarely more.
By acingit https://www.reddit.com/r/...

Cuckoo [September Contest]

by acingit

After her fourth miscarriage, my wife and I decided to stop trying for a child of our own. The children that we fostered, we agreed, would be enough to fill the void.

Most of them leave after a few weeks, either adopted into new homes, or returned to their original family. Some stay longer; a few months, a year, rarely more.

And through it all, there's been Ollie.

Five years ago, a woman showed up at our door with a little boy in tow. She was his assigned social worker, she told us, and was requesting that we foster him indefinitely.

My wife was five months pregnant with our first attempt at the time, and Ollie was fascinated by her growing belly.

He stared at her with wide eyes, and nodded shyly when asked if he'd like to feel the baby kick. We knew then that we'd get along.

_

With my wife still in hospital recovering from our latest tragedy, it fell to me to take care of the kids. When I arrived home, I found Ollie sitting patiently on the stairs.

"The baby?" he asked quietly.

“It didn't make it, kiddo.”

"One day," he murmured reassuringly, patting my arm.

“No, we've ... we're not going to try again. We've got you guys, that's enough for us.”

Silence wasn't unusual with Ollie, but I'd never seen anything like the cold stare he gave me in response.

"Never?" he asked, after a long pause.

“Never,” I replied, unnerved, and he walked upstairs without another word.

The next morning, Ollie was gone. We rang the foster agency, to report his absence, and were informed that there was no record of an “Ollie” ever placed with us.

*That's impossible,* I told the woman on the other end of the phone. *Put his social worker on, Miss Canorus, she'll clear this up.*

“There's no record of any social worker with that name,” she said in a bored voice. She didn't believe me. Thought I was drunk, or mad. The police reacted likewise.

How can you lose a child you never had?

_

Recently, I've been thinking. Five years, we'd raised Ollie. Why would he leave? That brief conversation on the stairs replays in my head. *Never?* he asked.

Why would he need to know if we were planning to try again?

Ollie, with his fascination with my pregnant wife. Ollie, always around her, always so sweet, so friendly, so helpful.

Ollie, who picked at his food and barely ate a thing, but always stayed a healthy weight.

A memory surfaces, unbidden. The day before our disastrous hospital visit. Ollie, his hands splayed against my wife's stomach, making eye contact with me.

Colour seems to flow from her skin to his, a healthy pink flush spreading across his cheeks.

His eyes are darker than usual - a trick of the light? He flashes me a smile that, for a moment, seems far too full of teeth.

Five years. Four miscarriages.

And through it all, there's been Ollie.

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