The First Picture

May 14, 2008
By Kelsey Linden, Barrington, IL

“Kelsey, come play with me!” shouts my older sister Jessica.

I run downstairs to see what game she wants me to be a part of this time. Across the kitchen, her face is pressed against the back screen door as she waits for me to come. I open the door, and she grabs my hand to pull me across the deck towards the backyard. The green grass tickles our bare feet, and we have to shield our eyes from the bright sun. As we run through the backyard, the wind blows our matching sundresses into the air, and we giggle as we try to hold them down. My sister reaches the swing set first, and she claims the better of the two swings. Why does she always get the better swing? I start to open my mouth in protest, but decide that it isn’t worth it. Jessica always gets what she wants; I struggle to jump up onto the other swing.

“Girls, you need to come inside right now!” yells my dad from inside the house.

“But we want to keep playing!” my sister shouts in return.

“You can play later; I need to talk to you girls about something.”

My sister and I look at each other in bewilderment and after a moment we race back towards the house. We walk into the kitchen and look at Daddy. He is walking up and down the hall muttering under his breath. As he comes closer to us, I can tell that he is shaking and there is what looks like water on his forehead. My stomach starts to turn and the smile disappears from my face. Uh oh. I hope we aren’t in trouble. Maybe he found the pieces to the vase that Jessica and I accidentally dropped and shattered last week. I brace myself for the yelling, but instead he smiles at us.

“Girls, Mommy had the baby.”

For months now, I have watched my mom’s stomach expand and listened to everyone talk about this baby that is going to come into the world. People would come up to my mom and put their hand on her stomach and tell me how lucky I am, but I didn’t feel lucky. Lately, my mom couldn’t even play with us anymore. She was always lying down and saying how the baby was kicking her. Last week I wasn’t allowed to go to my tennis lesson because Mommy said she was too big to drive the car! I don’t think I am going to like this new baby.

“Come on, Kelsey, we have to get in the car so we can go see Mommy in the hospital,” my sister says as she once again grabs my hand to pull me along.

On the way to the hospital in downtown Chicago, my dad explains that Mommy had a baby girl and her name is Allison. What a stupid name. My dad will not stop talking about how beautiful Allison is and how happy both he and Mommy are that she is healthy. I lean my head against the car door. I start humming loud enough so my dad can hear. He turns around in the car to give me a disapproving look, but at least he stops talking. The dirty white hospital looms ahead of me as I struggle to keep up with Daddy and Jessica. From the moment I pass through the doors, my nose crinkles from the sterile smell of a doctor’s office. I walk down a hall, which looks like it might never end, and enter a tiny room. Underneath the white sheets, my mom is practically glowing. Her face lights up as she peers down into the bundle of blankets in her arms. Who are all these people? I push my way through the crowded room and climb up onto the bed. I wrap my arms around her neck and follow her gaze to the baby. Allison has purple skin and black eyes that take over her egg shaped face. Her skin is as smooth as a doll’s and she smells like baby powder. She jerks her miniature hand and grabs at the air.

“Do you want to hold your new baby sister?” my mom turns and looks at me as she asks.

“No.” I do not want to get any closer than I already am to Allison.

Jessica, however, eagerly sits in the chair with her eyes bugging out of her head as my mom places the bundle in her cradled arms. Jessica rocks the bundle in her small arms, whispering to Allison. Everything is going to change. My life with Jessica is now going to be my life with Jessica and Allison, and I do not think I am going to like have to share everything with my new sister. Mommy and Daddy are going to have to spend a lot of time with Allison, and Jessica already cannot take her eyes away from the baby. I sit down in the corner of the room and wait for someone to notice, but everyone is too focused on Allison.

A few days later, I am told that Allison is ready to come home; therefore, I have to clean up all my toys and help Mommy out with whatever she needs. Meanwhile, Allison sits in her red, bouncy seat in the middle of the family room as neighbors, and people I have never seen before, are enthralled by her tiny smile and the smallest squeeze of her finger. Even though she does make me smile when she giggles, all she seems to do is cry or sleep all day. Why are people so amazed by her? Once all the people leave, my mom pulls out the camera.

“Girls, I need to get a picture of all THREE of you!”

My sisters and I get together in the family room for the first picture of the three of us. Allison sits between Jessica and I in her special seat, peacefully sleeping. Jessica says how she wishes she could hold Allison for the picture, but my mom does not want her to wake up. Thank goodness. I cannot handle listening to her cry for one more minute. I sit down near the baby and wait for the picture to be over.

My mom peers through the camera lens and says, “Kelsey, get closer to Allison. Ready and SMILE!”

From that first, my whole life changed. Jessica and I were no longer the carefree best friends, as Jessica always wanted to help take care of Allison. I became a middle sibling, the one that easily goes unnoticed between the unprecedented accomplishments of Jessica, and the excitement of all the firsts for Allison. My life as I knew it was gone, but I came to realize that I was lucky to have both Jessica and Allison as sisters. One day, I know that Jessica, Allison and I will all be best friends and our love will go unmatched.
Kelsey Linden

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