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Gift and Surprise

“Chocolate?” I don't like chocolate. I don’t like peanut butter, bananas, or chocolate, especially, not chocolate.

“No thank you.” I said in my best American accent. I had taken that stupid English class for 10 years. It was starting to pay off.

“Padre. Padre. No c’è buon cibo su questo volo.” I said. My father was tall, and had dark brown hair, with greenish blue eyes. He had reading glasses that he only used at work or in the house. I didn't know why he never used them anywhere else, because he needed them.

“No Italian, my baby. Try English. Please Geena.” I knew my father wanted me to practice my English, but why did he insist that I not speak Italian? What was so wrong about speaking both languages?

“Fine. Dad, there’s no good food on this flight. Happy?”

I was born in Italy in the year 2003, and I had lived there for, fourteen years now. Mom and Dad had been researching America for the past six years of my life. They told me they thought that America would be better for us in terms of finance, and just five months ago, we got our offer on a place down in Boston. Last year, Father got a new job as some businessman at some bank, so there was really no turning back away from the fact that we were going to move to America. I wasn't happy though, because Italy was really all I had ever known.

“Yes, much better. Hey, the food isn't so bad. Chocolate?” Again. I don’t like chocolate.

“No. Non mi piace il cioccolato.” I smirked at him and turned back to the tv. How much longer was this flight?

Luca, my brother, turned to me and said, “3 more hours.” He had read my mind. Luca was nine, short for his age, with brown hair that swooped up like the waves on the beach in the front, fair skin, and big brown eyes. His teeth were straight, even though he had never had braces. It made me pretty envious because I had braces for three years, my teeth had been a spaced out mess beforehand.

I sighed. “Hey, I mean, don’t worry, it’s already been 6 hours on this hot, smelly plane.” Even though Luca was 4 years younger than me, he was almost as smart.

Squirming in my seat, itching my sweaty back, chair rubbing against my violet fleece, I couldn't sleep because of the thick and uncomfortable head rest that was tilting forward instead of back, making my neck really sore. My long, blonde hair was flowing down in front of my bluish green eyes, and poking into them, creating watery tears. I pulled my hair back into a tight ponytail, which just poked back against the seat. Nothing was even close to comfortable. Three more hours seemed like an eternity under these conditions.

                -        -        -

“Bianchi?” Bee-ann-ki. It’s so simple. But these Americans don’t understand the beauty of our culture. They say Bee-ann-chi. Pet peeve of mine.

“Yes, yes! That’s us!”, my father said with glee. The man in the suit who said our last name wrong looked at my father in a funny way, as if he knew that we were definitely not from America. Ignoring the man’s look, my father whispered to us, “Kids, welcome to the land of freedom! Your new home!”

“Yaaay!” I whispered back with the most sarcasm I could give, and with the least energy.

“Geena, maybe it won’t be so bad.” Luca said. He smiled at me with a sparkle in his eye like old Saint Nicholas.

I was sick of it. There was no way that America was going to be better than Italy. I pulled out my phone, and texted Valentina, my best friend back in Italy. “Already missing you. XOXO!” When she texted back she said, “Missing you too, but I am in Mr. Marino’s science class. You know how he feels about phones. Text you when school is done. Love you!”

“Darling, who are you texting?” I turned around frightened by the sudden question. It was only my mother. She was a tall woman, with dirty blonde hair, messy from the flight. Her eyes were hazel, and she always wore a perfume that made her smell like some sort of flower field. She was pregnant, for nine months now. We had a friend on the flight crew and a doctor on board so letting her fly wouldn't really be an issue. My father said she was due with my new sibling, though we didn’t know what gender yet. Of course, my mother needed it to be a surprise.

“Mom, I am thirteen now. I don’t need a bodyguard. Especially not a texting guard.” I was almost fourteen too, she needed to lay off. My mother laughed and I hugged her. I put my face on her chest, and I thought I felt a slight kick from the baby, trying to punch though my mother and kick my face.

“Oh, Geena. I know that this move is hard, I knew it was going to be. But, I mean, it will be better for our family.” Her stomach rumbled. Mine rumbled as well, twisting, hungry.

“I heard that,” my father said. “Who’s hungry?”

“All of us Jonathan.” My mother said as she got into the back of the big SUV car. The car was black and smelt like fresh leather. The windows were tinted and on the armrest, there sat two mints, white and minty. The rest of us hopped in the car, but my father ran back into the airport after talking to the driver. When he came back, he had a small brown bag in his hands that said on the front, “Dunkin’ Donuts”.

“What is that John?” My mother asked, with a confused face, trying to read the words on the bag.

“Your breakfast, mi amore!” What kind of breakfast comes in a brown bag from the airport, with some brand name? My father pulled out small golden-brown circles with a hole in the middle, glazed with pink, white, and brown, topped off with rainbow sprinkles.

“DONUTS!” Luca screamed. “Yes! Sorry, but Johan told me that these are America’s finest delicacies, and he should know because his daddy went to America, and they tried them and...” Luca could talk about these donut things all day.

“Luca. If they are soooo good, then why don’t we just try one?” I said with a honey sweet voice.

“OK!” Luca was so loud. My father handed the chocolate donut to Luca, the pink one to me, and the white, vanilla one to my mother. My father chowed down on a chocolate one as well. The driver pulled away from the parking lot when my father was buckled in and had shut the door.

I ate mine. The first bite melted in my mouth, lovely and sweet. The frosting made my fingers sticky, and my face messy too. I looked at my mother, who drank her coffee. Her face scrunched up and when she swallowed she put on a face that looked like she had just drank spoiled milk or had just eaten an artichoke. I looked forward at my father was drank one big sip of his coffee, and then put it down. He didn’t touch it again. Luca had donut all over his face, and my parents hadn't even touched their donuts.

I looked out the window toward the open sky. The sky was blue, and cloudy, there were signs everywhere, and buildings surrounding the highway. The streets were loud and the other cars outside whooshed by. I wanted to go home. To real home.

                -        -        -

When we arrived at our new home, I have to say it was pretty nice. Our new house was in a huge condominium area, and each condominium has two living areas, each one with lots of space. Tall ceilings, and my room was huge. The house was warm and it had three floors to it. And that night, it happened.

My mother was making dinner, and Luca and I were upstairs playing chess on the carpeted floor. It was quiet up there, insulated from the outside sounds of Boston. That was our new home. In Boston, Massachusetts. Nice name. Interesting.

“Did you hear that?” Luca said.

“No. Why, did you hear something?” I said almost a bit worried. The door to the outside slammed shut.

“Um, I thought I heard a scream.” We ran to the window, and the car was pulling away from our house.

My phone began to ring, a suspenseful sound in the air.

“Well, maybe you should answer it!” Luca screamed.

“Oh, hah. Right.” I grabbed my phone, my fingers pouring rain onto the screen. Father was calling. I answered the phone.

“Hello?” I said. “What happened?”

“Don’t worry kids. Everything's fine. When a guy in a black car comes to the house, tell him your names, and tell him to drive you to the hospital. He will know which one to go to. We’ll see you there.” Then he hung up.

                    -        -        -

We arrived at the hospital 40 minutes later. We drove in something called an Uber, with some random driver that my dad had paid to come and get us. As we pulled into the circular driveway of Brigham And Women's’ Hospital, my heart began to speed up.

“Babies, babies! Come here, my babies!” I saw my father come toward the car as Luca and I came out. He embraced us, and he was warm and very sweaty. “I have already paid the driver, come quick, come quick.” We walked into the busy hospital, it smelled like baby powder and hand sanitizer. I saw a gift shop, and a Panera Bread.

“Up the elevator,” my father said in a rush. He seemed impatient tapping his foot. We were all impatient.

“Has the baby been born yet?” Luca asked. We looked at my father who was sweating down his forehead, the light glistening off of his face.

“No, not yet. But the doctor said we are in for a surprise.” My father’s face lit up. “He said that there might be more than one surprise.” Luca and I looked at each other.

“What type of surprise?” I asked. Then, it came to me. “Do you not know how many babies there are going to be? Are you kidding? You don’t know genders, numbers...” I trailed off realizing why. “I guess you just wanted a surprise.” I said with a calmer voice. I guess it was kind of nice to be living the suspense.

“Geena, Luca. Look, I’m sorry babies. I know this move has been a lot for you to take in. But, hey, look, soon, you’ll have a sibling or two more!” My father’s phone dinged, and the ding suspended in the air, floating from ear to ear. We all looked at each other, and my father’s hand raced to his pocket.

“You better come up soon. She’s ready.”

                    -        -        -

“Luca, I’m starved. Got chips?” I couldn’t stand it anymore. It was nine thirty pm, and we hadn’t had anything all day but that stinking donut.

“No. But I have money. And I see a vending machine.” I looked across from where Luca was pointing. Of course, a vending machine. I took a five from Luca, and stuck it in the vending machine. I clicked the buttons, B3. My Lays chips began to fall slowly, and then, it seemed as if the next minute or two went in slow motion as well. I grabbed my change that fell from the coin slot. I put it in my jean pocket. That’s when I heard,

“Geena and Luca Bianchi?” It was the voice of a young lady, and she said our last name right. But, how did she know how to say it? Wait. How did she know our names?

“Yes?” Luca said. I looked over. The lady was dressed in a blue and white doctor’s coat. Oh. Oh my.

“You might want to see this.” We ran to the lady who took us to a bright room, painted in blue, with a hospital bed in the middle. And, there was another lady in the bed, with tired eyes that were also bright and filled with tears. But she was smiling. Happy tears. It was my mother.

“Mom!” I ran to hug her, but my father put the shush finger by his mouth.

“They are sleeping.” He pointed to my mother’s arms, and I too began to cry tears of joy as well. Two little sleeping babies, with sweet breaths of air, bare heads, except for a few strands.

“What are their names?” I asked. Luca came over to see our siblings too.

“Well, the girl, this one,” my mother pointed to the baby in her left arm. “Her name is Abiele Cascata Meraviglia Bianchi. And the boy,” she pointed to my brother in her right arm. “His name is Tommaso Donatello Sorpresa Bianchi.” Sorpresa and Meraviglia. Those stuck out to me. They meant Surprise and Gift in Italian. Because these two siblings were those things to our family.






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