The Dossier

She had never seen such a large collection of information on one person. Even in the movies the files agents had on people were an inch or two thick. And that was for an adult.

She stared at the manuscript. At least a foot high it documented every move that Sarah Millicer had made – a  child, barely 6 months of age.

Sarah’s mother was obsessive compulsive. The warnings to this older first time mother that the pregnancy could be more traumatic compared to the experiences of a younger mother had translated into this – collections of notes, records, tables and charts. The beginnings of insanity.

Rachel leafed through the document on the table, scanning the contents. Every minute of the child’s day was recorded; when she woke up, her manner on awakening, what she did as the day passed – every action accounted for – what she ate, how long it took, when she had a diaper change, the colour and consistency of the contents, the colour of her complexion – anything and everything which could be recorded was written in the most meticulous detail. The more Rachel turned pages the more she saw. The late night reviews of the past day by Genine, Sarah’s mother, desperately evaluating Sarah’s day, reassessing how to make things better, finding patterns in behaviour and suggesting how to make the next day run smoother and happier for her baby. Could the second feed have been too close to when the laundry went on? Is that why her nappy was more brown than yesterday? Maybe the music on the radio that day was the reason for her impatience during tummy time. The hyper vigilance was intriguing, but Rachel identified with ease a mother beyond the reach of help.

Returning to the first page, Rachel’s brow furrowed. The date didn’t make sense. Sarah would have been 5 months old when the records began. But it also meant that this foot of information was less than one month worth of notes – no small feat.

A half-open closet door caught Rachel’s eye. Opening it, she found mounds of carefully bound papers. They were boxed as if archived – “6-14 weeks”, “15-22 weeks,” Rachel read. “Sarah, birth-1 month,” “Sarah 1-2 months,” they continued. Every month had its own stack of papers. A look through “23-31 weeks,” informed Rachel that these must have been the notes Genine kept while she was pregnant with Sarah. Everything Genine ate and did, her moods, all catalogued. Again, daily reflections on what had happened that day and an attempt at mapping out why Sarah reacted to some things and how these were to be interpreted from the womb. After all this careful cataloguing, it was hard to stomach that something as unforeseen as a car crash had ended Sarah’s life so abruptly. Genine was sectioned into a mental institution and it didn’t seem likely that she would be released. Unfortunately, these records didn’t stand to help her case – this was someone unlikely to cope well in the real world.


Write a 500 word story titled “The Dossier”.

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