• Gina Denny

Think #3: A Guff Going By

This story was inspired by one of the “Thinks” proposed by Dr. Seuss’s “Oh the Thinks You Can Think!”. If you are unfamiliar with the book, you can find an online version of it here. Every day from now through February 15th, I’ll be posting a short story or poem based on one of the “Thinks” in the book. Enjoy!  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Who Thinks Up a Gruff (or: Seems Like a Dream)

In the days leading up to birth,

I thought a lot about my babies.

I thought about holding them

and feeding them

and singing in my own

tone-deaf way to put them

to sleep.

I didn’t think

about gruffs.

I thought about lullabies and 

nursery nights,

rocking chairs and soft

hand-knit blankets.

I thought about the smell

of just bathed baby and the sound

of tiny giggles in my ears.

I never once thought

about gruffs.

I did a lot of thinking about

birthday party themes and

kindergarten cupcake extravaganzas.

I scrapbooked and dreamed

about hands holding mine

as we crossed busy streets

and car seats being buckled

and tooth fairy visits in the dead

of night.

I didn’t spare a thought

for the gruffs.

Who thinks up a gruff?

Who watches their baby sleeping

and thinks up

a gruff?

Sometimes you don’t have to think

a thought.

Sometimes a thought

thinks you, and you

have no choice but to listen

as the gruff expounds on

all the ways

he hates you.

The gruff that used to be

your son.

He sits there

like a teddy bear, all cute

and brown, and fluffy,

but his long tail threatens 

to strangle you.

You didn’t think him up,

but there he is,

this gruff.

There he is,

and he says,

he hates you.

Baby belly dreams

skip over pre-teen

melodrama and

the hormones that who the heck knew

boys had too?

I am harsh.

I am cruel.

I make him feel stupid.

Says the gruff.

He wipes away my kisses.

He pounds the walls of the home

I thought up for him,

the room in the house

built to keep him safe.

He defies and screams lies,

and there are no soft sweet lullabies

that will talk him off

the ledge…

my gruff.

Oh, my gruff.

I cannot dream my way

back to sleepless nights and

diaper changes.

I cannot think my way back

to car seats and


tooth fairies and Santa Clauses.

Even the hardest hard day


like a dream

with a gruff.

Give me back booties

that won’t stay on his feet.

Give me back spit-up stained clothes

and days without


and nights where I cried

just to sleep.

Give me back grocery store visits

with sticky hands and tears

over no candy today,

and give me back mechanical horses 

that make everything better

for a quarter in a slot and

a ten second ride.

Give me back my little boy

and you can have

this gruff.

Because even the hardest hard day

with a baby

seems like a dream

with a gruff.


Heather Truett writes literary fiction, poetry, and other things with deepness and feelings (I fear that sounds sarcastic, but it’s not – her words are beautiful). She blogs at Madame Rubies and Middle Places. She lives in the deep American South where she’s labors tirelessly to raise her children to be even half as awesome as she is. She tweets and you should tell her that her butt looks good in jeans. 

#ShortStories #Thinks

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