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A heavyset nurse with graying brown hair flings open the large wooden door that has sat closed for almost two whole hours. Her broad, manly hand grips the sticky metal handle with such force her knuckles are turning white. She taps her beaten shoe on the ground to make a tap tap noise while she looks boringly at the clipboard she has propped up between her hand and hip. In her obviously too small dress, her body resembles a doughy substance stuffed into a bag threatening to spill out at any given moment. Her lifeless gray eyes reflect all of her experiences here at Valley Hospital, unlike most adults here. There is a small speck of deep turquoise blue that seems to yearn to have a child of her own when she looks at me, but I think I am hallucinating because she glares at me before announcing for us to enter.
“Roughgarden.” Her voice slurs, making it barely comprehensible. Finally, I think. I smell her breath and can tell she just had bitter coffee. Ew. She pushes her red cat-eye glasses further up her nose and looks at Grandma approvingly and I think I see a little bit of sympathy in there, too.
During the whole two hour wait, Joe Joe, Grandma, and I sat in uncomfortable chairs that all adults seem to think children like. They are plastic with plain colors like red or yellow or blue. But, they are cold and after about 30 minutes, Joe Joe and I gave up. That’s it, I thought, we’re getting up and moving around.
At first each one of us had asked to go to the bathroom and a nurse directed us. On our way back, she had given us these icky bland lollipops that Grandma told us were sugar-free. They tasted like cardboard and sawdust, not what lollipops are supposed to taste like. Ech. But no longer than 10 minutes later, we were bouncing off of the walls in the narrow hallway like popcorn. We bumped into doctors having conversations, tripped over nurses pulling carts, and elbowed secretaries delivering paperwork. And every time, Grandma would take us by the arm, hiss at us, “Sit down!” and plop us down in the stupid chairs.
The mean lady opens the door so that it is pushed against the wall and moves aside so we can get in. The heavy door rebounds a little off of the wall and hits her in the back, but if it hurt her she didn’t show it. I look through the colossal door frame into a small room, past where the door that has barricaded us from our family for hours. Here we go, I think timidly, and a sudden wave of nervousness hits me in the face.
I jump up from the dumb plastic seats and fumble towards the door. My pretty brown shoes squeak on the cold white tiles with the rhythmic click-clack of my fraying untied shoelaces.
“Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! I wanna see the baby! The baby! The baby!” I squeal, barreling past the old doctors and young nurses that have their backs to me. Hurry, Katie! Faster! Faster! One lady giggles behind her gloved hand and I stop in my tracks to smile at her. She holds up her hand as a gesture of a high five.
“I bet you can’t wait to see your Mommy and your new little sister?” she asks as I return her high five. My heart fills with pride, joy, surprise, and so many other happy emotions that I can’t even talk.
I have a little sister?
“A sister?!” I squeak, unsure of what to do. My body is rigid and a look of confusion passes over her face. “Yay! Yay! Yay!” I run forward and give her a hug. She takes a step back in surprise, but wraps her arms around me. I suddenly break off and run into the corner of the room.
It takes a few moments for my eyes to adjust to the bright fluorescent lights, but when they do I take in my surroundings with awe and interest. Oh my goodness. The room is almost perfectly square with low gray ceilings and cloudy blue walls. There are small metallic stands scattered around the room carelessly with shiny metal utensils on top of them. A crowd that had formed in the corner of the room turns in unison to look at me. I recognize one of them as my Daddy and I bolt towards him.
“Daddy!” He sweeps me up in his arms and tickles my tummy. “I have a little sister!”
“I know! Are you excited?” He ruffles up my thick light brown hair with his monstrous hand and I giggle. Of course I am, I want to say, but hold back. He isn’t wearing his glasses and I can see his deep aqua eyes. They are round and filled with exhaustion and pride. He’s a daddy and that’s what all daddies look like. His big smile portrays most of his emotions and he his black hair looks a little frizzy. He tickles me again and puts me down.
“Go say hi to Mommy,” he directs me and I turn around and see her. Mommy?
She is lying down in the wrinkle-free murky blue bed with a worn expression in her eyes. She looks at me with pure love. Her red hair is pulled back into a sloppy ponytail. It looks like her freckles that usually cover every inch of her face have multiplied because of her pale complexion. There is a tray with a half-eaten blueberry muffin with the crumbs spilling out and an empty Dixie cup of orange juice. Lucky, I think enviously.
“Hi, sweet pea. Wanna say hello to your new little sister?”
“Yes, please,” I sputter, my heart beating. She holds up a small pink bundle and pushes back some blanket.
A small pink face stares back at me. She has rosy cheeks and wisps of blonde hair. Her eyes are closed and drool leaks out of her mouth. Her red lips are full and petite. I reach over the bed and kiss her soft head, then pull back. She opens her small mouth in the shape of a nickel and yawns, making a faint squeaking noise. Unsure of what that was, she softly begins to cry.
“What’s her name?” I question earnestly, furrowing my brow.
“Audry,” Mommy breathes, her eyes lighting up. “Audry Elizabeth.”