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Wrapped in Blue This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

The hospital was bright and busy, nurses and visitors rushing through the halls with purposeful strides. As I followed my father through the maternity ward, I clung to my brother's hand. To my eight-year-old eyes, the surroundings were a daze of white, a landscape of tall doors and signs that seemed to flash by in a blur of incomprehension. The farther we walked, the more I felt nervous tension, an anxious anticipation that permeated the atmosphere, and I felt my whole body trembling – with what, didn't know.

We arrived at Room 209 but weren't allowed to go in yet. A woman outfitted in powder blue asked if we had sanitized yet. Apparently “sanitized” was code for “exfoliated,” because we weren't permitted to proceed until all exposed skin was scrubbed raw. I got soap in my mouth after the third time washing my face. There was a lingering taste, and I gagged a few times before Dad led my brother and me into the room.

The first sight that met my eyes was a small blue bundle cradled in my mother's arms. My breath caught in my throat, and I blinked several times. Numbly walking across the room, I stood on tip-toes, trying to get a look. Dad chuckled and lifted me under my arms. I squeaked at the indignity, but my protests died away as a wrinkled red face came into view. When I saw my new sibling for the first time, my thoughts flashed back to the previous night, when I'd been awakened by a hand on my shoulder.

From the day my parents told me that Mom was pregnant, I'd been enchanted with the idea. I put a diaper on one of my dolls and spent hours talking to her and pretending to change her clothes. I told my parents I was practicing for my baby sister.

When Dad woke me from my dreams of tea parties and partners for dress-up, even my groggy mind realized that he must have come from the hospital. To me, there was only one thing that needed to be said. “Is it a girl?” But his answer was not what I'd expected.

A boy? Horror filled my tiny body. It couldn't be! I wanted a sister! How could fate be so cruel? I'd been so caught up in my delight at the prospect of a sister that the other possibility hadn't ever crossed my mind.

I had nothing against boys. Really, I didn't. However, I was cursed with both an impressionable young mind and a love of books. When I thought of a younger brother, my imagination instantly went to Fudge, the bane of Ramona's existence. The stereotypical little brother was annoying, constantly invading her privacy, and prone to drooling on homework. Was I doomed to this?

Now, as I stared into the miniscule face framed in soft blue cotton, I was prepared to see little nubs of horn protruding from the velvety scalp. If worse came to worse, I told myself, I could probably push my nightstand in front of my bedroom door. With my stash of last year's Halloween candy, I ought to survive alone for a few years (surely twenty would be sufficient for the child to mature).

But the sight of my brother, eyes scrunched up and mouth slightly open, did not fit my expectations. There were no horns, and I felt certain that Dad would have mentioned a tail. It seemed ridiculous to worry about this tiny creature being an irritation.

Just as I was struggling to accept this revelation, a movement caught my eye. He was shaking his miniature fist at the world – waving, I thought, at his older sister.

In that moment, all my doubts fell away. Who said that all brothers were like Fudge? Ramona, I realized, was highly unfortunate in many ways – of course she would get the one brother that was demon-spawn. My brother would be an angel. My fantasies shifted from playing dolls to building forts, from wearing dresses to staging pirate attacks.

I turned to my dad.

“Having a brother is going to be so much fun!” I said excitedly.

Five years later, I couldn't agree more. Shane has grown from a wrinkled infant into a little sweetheart – cherubic in looks, impish in personality. Whether he wakes me up in the morning with a surprise attack or comes into my room at night begging for a story, I've adored him since that first day in the hospital. We've both changed since then, and I've enjoyed seeing Shane grow into a loveable little boy. I hope that I always remember what I learned that day: Sometimes you need to give unexpected surprises a chance. Sometimes, good things come wrapped in blue.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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