The chief nurse watched with amusement as the young couple struggled to somehow fit their newborn inside the gleaming white onesie and fit the little matching cap on his tiny head. First timers, obviously. It was not her job to help them and she did not do it on principle. The baby was now their responsibility. Just as hers was to make sure they were indeed responsible.
She’d seen them both at the lecture for new parents on the previous day and she remembered the young woman had raised a question on the merits of breast milk over formula. Even if the question was a bit stupid she much preferred parents asking for her opinion instead of those insufferable know-it-alls who only half-listened to what she had to say.
The young mother seemed satisfied with the result and carefully lifted the newborn in her arms so the chief nurse could have a look at it and appreciate the fact that they’d managed to dress the baby without breaking any bones. Both parents were waiting for a smile of approval and it worried them to see the nurse straining her eyes as if there was something she could not quite see. The effort put a crease in her brow, which was all the more unsettling for the anxious parents.
The nurse rose quietly and came near the clear plastic cot to get a closer look at the baby.
‘And what is that may I ask?’
Her fat index was pointing to a little image embroidered image on the onesie, right above the heart. The parents looked at each other in alarm, the man opened his mouth, but no words came out. He was about to protest it’s just a little toy train, but he knew it was against the new laws as well as the Children’s Bill of Rights passed only a little before Elsie discovered she was pregnant.
The nurse watched them squirm under her angry eyes, she could have scolded them, it was entirely within her rights, actually it was her duty, but she enjoyed seeing them sink under the burden of guilt that came with the realization they were not fit to be parents.
‘I’m sorry’, Elsie pleaded, holding the baby tight against her chest. ‘It was a present from a friend, we had no idea…’.
Although against the law, the nurse was aware that such degrading clothes were still being sold over the Internet, imported from countries still steeped in the barbarian traditions of the past.
As if on clue, a young guard poked his head through the door.
‘Need any help?’
‘I don’t think so’, the nurse replied, snatching the baby from the mother’s arms and taking the offensive garment off with a few expert moves.
‘Give him back!’ the mother cried out.
She clasped her hand over her mouth the moment she realized the enormity of what she had just said. Too late!
The nurse gave them a mean smug smile and pointed to the security camera on the wall. The whole incident was on record. They had just committed the crime of assuming a baby’s gender, giving clear indication they thought of it as a boy and planned on raising it as such.
‘Not on my watch’, the nurse said to herself as she placed the baby now dressed in hospital issued yellow clothes back to its cot. ‘Take it to the newborn’s ward’, she ordered the young guard.
The parents watched petrified as their son was taken away.
‘Nothing to worry about’, the nurse assured them, ‘you’ll need to go to rehabilitation school and, if all goes well, in three months time you can come back’.
The helpless mother’s eyes sank to her chest, watching the milk stains on her shirt grow larger.
‘As I was telling you yesterday, dear, formula is much better for newborns.'
Story written for @mariannewest's freewrite challenge, today's prompt was: 'new laws'! Check out her blog and join our freewrite community.
Thanks for reading!