Abigail is one hour old.

Jennifer counts her tiny toes. She coos and whispers a lullaby.

“Would you like me to take a picture of you two?” the nurse asks.

Jennifer smiles and takes out the camera that’s been tucked away in her overnight bag. She scrolls through filters, trying to find one that will soften the glaring hospital lights, and later, when she uploads it and sends it to the grandparents, she smiles at the memory.

Life will never be the same. #blessed

Abigail is one year old.

Jennifer spoon-feeds her only the most high-quality organic purees. No preservatives, no additives, no artificial flavors. Only the best for her baby.

“How do you manage it?” her sister asks.

Jennifer smiles and grabs the iPhone from her diaper bag. She scrolls through Facebook, trying to find that post that breaks baby-feeding down into ten easy steps, and later, when she reposts it on her feed, she ponders whether she could write something like that herself.

What we’ve been feeding our baby

#parenting #food #nutrition

Abigail is two years old.

Jennifer keeps stickers and aloe wipes and toilet seat covers in her purse, along with a timer set at regular intervals.

“Do you think that method would work for my son?” a stranger at the park asks.

Jennifer pulls her tablet from her purse. She scrolls through the blog she’s been writing, trying to find the link to that scientific study she read on the topic, and later, when she posts her daily blog entry, she refers to the woman as her best friend.

Potty-Talking with My BFF

#parentingtips #poopfail #parktime

Abigail is three years old.

Jennifer livetweets a series of preschool interviews that go viral.

“Do you have any tips on finding a good dance class?” a commenter asks.

Jennifer opens a new browser window. She turns on Doc McStuffins to buy herself a few hours of peace, and later, as she responds to DMs, she leaves out the parts about the tantrums and the preschool teacher who asked them to leave.

How to Find the Perfect Preschool for Your Perfect Angel

#parentingtips #education #readbyagefour #smartiepants #mybrilliantbaby #schooldays

Abigail is five years old.

Jennifer schedules her vlogging around kindergarten and dance practice.

“Will you review our products?” a toy company emails.

Jennifer opens the boxes live during school hours so she doesn’t have to edit out any whining, and later she repackages the products to resell to buy the latest A/V wristwatch and video editing software.

My Daughter LOVES the New BabyBee™ Doll; Yours Will, Too!

#parentingtips #thisyearstoptoys #unboxing #productreviews #toystoystoys #musthave

Abigail is eight years old.

Jennifer hisses at her to be quiet and stop kicking the seat in front of her — it’s embarrassing.

“You’re that mommy blogger, aren’t you?” the stewardess asks.

Jennifer denies it, says they get that all the time. At the hotel, she deletes all the MemoryFile footage of the flight before it can hit her stream, and later she ‘shops pictures of them smiling as they drive across the country.

Top Ten Reasons to Take an Off-the-Grid Roadtrip This Spring Break

#motherdaughterbonding #roadtripbuddies #besttripever #simplethings #lovemykid

Abigail is twelve years old.

Jennifer finds her at the holo-board, scrolling.

“Why are you lying about us?” her daughter asks.

Jennifer stares at the pages. At the videos. At the lies.

She stares at the girl standing before her, a girl who’s somehow grown old enough to ask questions for which Jennifer doesn’t have any good answers.

Taking a break for personal reasons.

Abigail is thirteen years old.

Jennifer still finds herself coming up with catchy titles in her head.

“What happened to our favorite influencers?” the internet asks.

Jennifer bites her lip and thinks about posting. She could make a listicle of reasons she ghosted, explaining the damage that had occurred, but later Abigail would see it and she’d have to start all over with trying to win back her trust.

She takes off her holo-watch and slips it in a drawer.

Abigail is fourteen years old.

Jennifer reaches the summit three steps before her and stops to catch her breath. She gazes in awe at the valley below and thinks of how far they’ve come. Her wrist still feels empty without her holo-watch, but she’s slowly growing used to the silence. She’s slowly growing to enjoy it.

“Hey, Mom. You want a picture?” Abigail asks, holding up the old camera they’d recently rediscovered while going through old boxes together.

Jennifer takes the device and scrolls through the menu, trying to find the timer so that they can sit together for the image. Later, when they print it out to hang it on the wall, she takes a minute to write a single word on the photo’s glossy back:


Wendy Nikel is a speculative fiction author with a degree in elementary education, a fondness for road trips, and a terrible habit of forgetting where she’s left her cup of tea. Her short fiction has been published by Analog, Nature: Futures, Podcastle, and elsewhere. Her time travel novella series, beginning with The Continuum, is available from World Weaver Press. For more info, visit wendynikel.com.