by Jake Christie

a story.

Ryan and Jenny sat in the doctor's office, waiting for him to return. Ryan sat in a chair at the side of the bed while Jenny was propped up on some pillows, a paper dress covering her swollen belly. Ryan was holding her hand.

“I bet it will be a boy,” said Ryan. “I've always wanted a boy.”

Jenny smiled a tight-lipped smile.

“Can you feel it?” he asked. “I mean, is there some kind of maternal instinct that tells you what it will be?”

“I don't know,” said Jenny.

Ryan pitched an invisible ball to his invisible son in an invisible field from the chair.

The doctor walked through the door, running a hand over his speckled bald head. His other hand held a clipboard. Ryan, upon seeing him enter, sat up straight.

“Well?” he asked.

“Well,” said the doctor. “The sonogram was successful.” He paused and looked at Jenny for a moment.

“So?” said Ryan. “Is the baby healthy?”

“Yes,” said the doctor. “Perfectly healthy.” He continued looking at Jenny.

Ryan didn't notice. He was smiling like a child on Christmas. “And what is it?”

The doctor looked at the clipboard and said, without looking up, “A male.”

Ryan jumped up, practically dragging his wife out of the bed by her arm. “A boy!” he whooped. “We're having a boy!”

“Not exactly,” said the doctor.

Ryan stopped smiling. “What?” he said.

“Mr. Rice,” said the doctor, looking up from the clipboard, “your wife is carrying a healthy baby unicorn.”

He reversed the clipboard to show Ryan the blurry black-and-green image trapped there: a small figure, clearly equine in nature, with a tiny horn beginning to show on his head.

Ryan released Jenny's hand. She began to cry. She grabbed his wrist, but he wrenched it away.

“Honey,” she said, “I can explain.”

Ryan turned his back on her. “It's that unicorn from work, isn't it?” he said. He looked over his shoulder. “Gregory.”

“Um,” said the doctor.

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