Little Lies We Tell Ourselves

Mar 11, 2022 | Fiction

I held you at the moment of your birth. “Hello, little one.” It was our first meeting; it was also our first moment of separation. You looked back at me, seeing me for the first time. Yet, I would never be your whole world, ever again. I counted your fingers, your toes. Traced the tiny button of your nose with a giant fingertip. I could hear your clock ticking, in the space between heartbeats as your chest rose and fell against mine.

None of us live forever, but your time had begun running out. I knew this, intellectually. But it had never hit me just how finite our lifespans are. There, blanketed by the darkness, I held you and sobbed. When the salt dried against my cheeks, I prayed to God to let me die before you, though I had never felt more alive, or wanted so desperately to live a long life, in order to watch and marvel as yours unfolded.

I changed your diapers. One day, you might end up changing mine, I thought, cringing. Not quite the future I envisioned for you as you toddled off to play with your imaginary pet dragon.

I once told you there was no point in worrying about the things that may or may not happen. We have choices: live until those things come to pass, experiencing all the joy life brings our way; or, study, plan, work, and change the future. I tried to make myself believe the old lie. You had already done so much – winning the Nobel Peace Prize for solving the world’s food and energy crises, making war obsolete, in 2025. Watching you build a life, I worried that all the plans I’d put into place to protect you would never be enough to head off what was coming. But I wouldn’t tell you that. I wouldn’t tell you what was coming. I wouldn’t mention the Orion Institute. That worry was mine, and mine alone.

As my grandson built a starship out of Legos, I returned to studying astrophysics. Time was running out. Death, in the form of a cold remnant of a dead star, was coming.

This story has been brought to you by Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge ( and the words Birth, Death, Live, Die, Diaper, Blanket, Alive, Dead, Lifespan, Plan.

Helpful Writing Resources

Purdue OWL // Purdue Writing Lab

English verb conjugation: past tense, participle, present perfect, past perfect | Reverso Conjugator


Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle, illustrated by Jordan Vinyard; A Puppy, Not a Guppy, illustrated by Ryan Shaw; and the newest release: A New Leaf for Lyle, illustrated by Carrie Salazar. She draws inspiration from her family, from her own childhood adventures (some of which only happened in her overactive imagination), and from readers both young and young-at-heart. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, J.J., whose love and encouragement make writing books twice the fun.


    • Holly Jahangiri

      It does, sometimes. I don’t know why I was never able to post the last one over there. I think it got chucked into spam, and Kathleen either couldn’t or wouldn’t fish it out. I was in no position to keep trying!


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