My third baby was born an alligator.

Even the pumpkin-orange, Halloween-themed babies looked normal compared to Albert, my bumpy baby. His long mouth that arrived already full of teeth, poked out from the top of his bassinet. He smelled like swamp, not sweet-baby-newborn or dirty diapers.

“Look at that green baby,” said the nursery window visitor-voices.

I stood ashamed in my pink frilly housecoat, pin-curled hair and lipstick, sadly pretending he didn’t belong to me. No one could easily look and say, that woman gave birth to an alligator. Instead, I pretended I birthed “Baby Jones, 6 lbs, 9 ounces.” The hallway audience clucked over a baby that wasn’t mine while milk poured to the floor.

“I’m afraid he might attack my baby,” the new mothers whispered.

The nurse heard and took Albert out of his bassinet to some backroom tank. I left before she made eye contact, identifying me as the failmother.

“I’m scared of him, mommy.” Heather said when he came home.

His arms and legs were too short, my marriage was short as well. I knew he’d never play basketball like his father wanted but I dreamed dreams for Albert.

“Maybe you’ll be an Olympic swimmer?” I pondered.

Albert looked at me but didn’t cry or smile. His mouth was bound with leather restraints after he bit Heather too hard. I saw something in his eyes, maybe a longing for chlorine or maybe a father that wrestled him somewhere other than a public tank in Florida.

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Amy Barnes has words at a variety of sites including The New Southern Fugitives, FlashBack Fiction, Popshot Quarterly, Flash Fiction Magazine, X-Ray Lit, Anti-Heroin Chic, Museum of Americana, Penny Fiction, Elephants Never, Re-side, The Molotov Cocktail, Lucent Dreaming, Lunate Fiction, Rejection Lit, Perhappened, Cabinet of Heed, Spartan Lit, National Flash Flood Day and others. Her work has been long-listed at Reflex Press, Bath Flash Fiction, Retreat West and TSS Publishing. She volunteers at Fractured Lit, CRAFT, Taco Bell Quarterly, Retreat West, NFFD and Narratively. Her flash collection will be published in May, 2021 by ELJ Editions, Ltd.