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When the phone rang, Megan and I were in the middle of one of our make believe games. We were seated on the new carpet in her basement—which was an awful greenish color that no one really liked-- pretending to be princesses lost at sea. The abrupt chime of the telephone interrupted our rescue, which was being conducted by two very dashing princes. I stood up and straightened the creases in my pink gown. It had been worn by Megan two Halloweens ago, and was six inches too short.
“Maybe that’s them!” I said, hastening to the stairs, and ignoring Megan’s exaggerated groan. I was about to become a big sister for the third time, and she was not reacting in the way I wanted her to. I didn’t care much though. She didn’t understand. The one thing that I had wanted for all my eight years of living was a little sister, and tonight I was going to get one.
Mrs. Chu’s voice called down the stairs, confirming my conjecture. Brynn Elizabeth, my little sister, had been born around an hour ago.
“I know you’re excited Abby, but you and Megan need to get to bed now. It’s almost 10 o’clock.” Mrs. Chu continued. I sighed. Sleepovers were fun, but it was much easier to debate bedtimes with my own mother.
As Megan and I laid out our sleeping bags, I talked animatedly, describing every new responsibility I planned to take on. I was determined to prove my newfound maturity, both to her, and to myself. Megan listened, evidently unimpressed, as I boasted about the correct way to change a diaper. When I had finished she didn’t hesitate to burst my bubble.
“Little sisters aren’t that great you know.” She informed me.
“How would you know?” I shot back.
“Um… because I have one.” I blinked. I had forgotten about that.
“Oh. Right. So…what’s wrong with them?” I tried to sound as nonchalant as possible, but Megan had reversed the dynamic of our whole conversation. Now she was the seasoned expert, while I was just the amateur newbie.
“Well,” It was obvious by her superior tone, that Megan had recognized the shift, “for one, they take all the attention off of you. Also, you won’t be the only girl anymore. When you and your mom do a ‘girls’ night, she’ll have to come too.” I felt my resolve wavering.
Assumedly feeling that she had proven her point, Megan bade me good night, and switched out the lights. I crawled into my sleeping bags, feeling a pit settle into the bottom of my stomach. She was right. I could feel my position in my family crumbling to the ground. I was no longer the only girl. I was no longer the voice of reason in the midst of my two brothers’ chaos. I was no longer my dad’s only “princess”. This tiny little baby had unknowingly ruined my entire life.
The next morning, I got into my grandmother’s car reluctantly. As we drove the fifteen minutes to the hospital, I somehow ignored my six-year-old brother Sam’s repeated moans of “I’m hungry,” as well as four-year-old Will’s insistence that we must change Brynn’s name to ‘Pooh Bear’. Instead, I contemplated the various excuses I could make to get Grandma to take me home. By the time we reached the hospital, however, I’d come up with nothing.
My mom’s hospital room was barely large enough for the group of people that occupied it. My eyes were immediately drawn to the corner of the room, where a baby lay sleeping in a bedside cradle.
“Do you want to hold her, Abby?” My mom’s voice came from the bed in the middle of the room.
“I guess,” I said, advancing towards the cradle. My grandma lifted Brynn up and handed her to me.
“Mind her head,” she said, as if by reflex. I looked down at the little face. A wave of relief flooded over me. She was much too small to pose any sort of reasonable threat, I decided. I let my mind wander once more to the advantages of having a little sister: someone to share clothes with when we were grown up, someone to go to the mall with, someone to look up to me. Maybe she wasn’t so bad.
In fact, as I stared into her blue eyes, I was met with all of the innocence a brand new baby had to offer. She reached up with a miniscule finger, curling it around my own.
“I think she likes you, Princess,” came my dad’s voice from the chair. I looked up and grinned.
“I think I like her too.”