For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“Bed Time Story”

Ana María Shua


It was in Paris that they set up the other bed, a little Paris apartment with a tiny bathroom and an impossible bed, a sunken-in, broken-down sommier and so little money that finally they thought of turning it upside down, legs up, mattress lodged between the legs, army blankets from the flea market, so threadbare and moth-eaten, and their good Argentine winter coats protecting them from the relentless, boring, long, sad Paris winter, and after a while the certainty that it wasn't there that they wanted to have their child, not in that city or in that bed. Then the return, they went back to that foam rubber mattress that hadn't been sold, nearly new, and there, in their forever city, her belly grew so large, she seemed so fragile and yet so tremendous, so regal, all-encompassing, dominant, that he got used to sleeping curled up in a ball, he got used to making himself smaller, occupying minimal space, a wise habit because before long there would be three of them in that bed, they brought the baby in with them just to nurse but soon all three of them slept there and as soon as she began to walk, those little steps invading at dawn, flip-flop, mother protesting, father hugging, sleeping on his side, lying almost on the bed frame, the tiny, spread-eagled princess happy in the middle of the bed, then they had others, each one in turn figuring out how to occupy the middle of the bed, sleeping meant sharing new smells, of diapers, urine, baby poop, fresh milk, sweat and spit-up, but eventually they also learned that children come and go away, and at last none of them remained.