Two Simple Words, Part 1

Fiction By Jackie West // 7/5/2011

 

Autumn collapsed on her bed. “If that wasn’t tiring, then I don’t know what is!” she said between gasps as she tried to catch her breath.

Jared and Stacey Harrison smiled at their only child as they sank into the depths of the oversized loveseat near the door of Autumn’s bedroom.

“Well, you wanted to vacation in the mountains so that you could hike, sweetie,” her father said, laughing. “And we all liked this retreat when we looked it up because it had good hiking trails.”

Autumn flopped out, spreading her weight evenly over the large bed. “A retreat is supposed to be relaxing too, Dad,” she protested. “I still like hiking-but relaxing like this doesn’t happen every day at home.”

“That’s true,” agreed Mrs. Harrison. “It’s a good place to relax-and tell her some news, too, Jared.” She looked pointedly at her husband.

“What? Oh, right!” Mr. Harrison replied, suddenly remembering what she had been talking about.

“What?” Autumn questioned, her big blue eyes staring at them curiously as she propped herself up on her arms.

Mr. Harrison grinned. “You’ve always wanted to be a big sister, right?”

“Right,” Autumn slowly agreed, before suddenly realizing what her father was saying. “Dad, you’re kidding!”

“No, we’re really having a baby, Autumn,” her mother disagreed.

“Yippee!” Autumn squealed, leaping off her bed as her weariness was suddenly forgotten. She ran to her parents and gave them each a big bear hug. “How far along are you?”

“Only about a month,” her mother answered. “We debated as to whether or not we should wait, since there is always a chance of losing the baby, but we desperately wanted to tell you.”

A huge grin spread across Autumn’s face. “Oh, I can’t wait!” she exclaimed excitedly.

“Of course not.” Mrs. Harrison looked at her husband and smiled, and he smiled back.

 

Two days later, as Autumn packed up her huge suitcase, she couldn’t stop thinking about being a big sister.

She smiled involuntarily as she thought it through.

“Imagine,” she said to herself, “after being an only child for so long, I get to be a big sister! I hope Mom has a girl. I’ve always wanted a little sister.”

“Why don’t you want a boy?”

Autumn whirled around when she heard her father’s voice. “Dad! You startled me.”

“Sorry,” he apologized. “I was just wondering why you wanted a sister and not a brother.”

“I’ve always wanted another girl in the house,” Autumn explained. “That’s why I want one.”

Her father feigned a disappointed sigh. “I’ve had two ladies in the house for almost fourteen years now. Do you think I’d want another one?”

“Dad!”

“Now, now, sweetie, I’m just teasing.” He grinned. “I’ll take whatever God gives us, be it a boy, girl, or weasel.”

Autumn’s mouth opened in shock. “Dad! What if Mom heard you?”

“Jared…” Mrs. Harrison came up behind him. “I did hear you, and your comment was slightly insulting.”

Jared turned and placed a placating kiss lightly on her forehead. “You know I didn’t mean it, Stacey.”

She raised an eyebrow. “I didn’t mean my statement, either. I know I don’t have an animal growing inside of me.”

They all grinned.

“Don’t you want a girl, Mom?” Autumn asked as she finished packing up her shirts.

“Personally, I would like a boy,” Mrs. Harrison admitted, “but as your father said, I will take whatever God gives us. It doesn’t matter which gender as long as it is there, because it will always be a blessing to us, just like you are.” She went to the bed and kissed her daughter’s forehead. “Are you finished packing yet?”

“Almost,” Autumn replied, shutting and locking her suitcase. “I just need to pack my travel bag.”

“Bring your things out to the car when you’re done,” her mother said as she went back out the door again. “I’ll be in the kitchenette, packing up the rest of our food.”

“And I’ll be settling things down at the checkout counter,” her father added. “Let us know if you need anything.”

“Alright. Thanks, Mom and Dad,” Autumn called as her parents disappeared from sight.

 

With a satisfied sigh, Autumn heaved all her bags onto her bed and looked around the clean room.

“Well,” she said to herself, “I’d call that a job well done.”

“Autumn!” came her mother’s voice from the main room. “Are you done yet? We need to go in a few minutes!”

“Yes, I’ll be out in a bit,” Autumn called back.

 

Just fifteen minutes later, the Harrison family car was speeding down the highway.

“So, have you changed your mind about not wanting a baby brother?” Mr. Harrison asked.

“No,” Autumn replied, staring out the window at the cars passing by.

“Why not?”

“Because I want a baby sister and that’s that,” Autumn said, grabbing her travel bag and taking out a pad of paper. She opened it to a fresh sheet of paper, and, pulling a pen out from behind her ear, she settled back in her seat and started to sketch.

“Don’t you want the family name to be carried on?”

“You could adopt-if this one isn’t a boy, or you could always try to have more kids.”

“What if it is a boy?”

“I’ll lock myself in my room and you’ll never see me for the rest of my life.”

“Autumn?” her mother asked, twisting to look at her daughter.

Autumn looked up, her face and eyes perfectly serious. “What?”

“You’re joking, aren’t you?”

“Why would I be joking?”

Mr. Harrison looked at Autumn by way of the rearview mirror and raised his eyebrow. “Because you’d die in your room before a month had passed.”

Autumn hid herself behind her sketchpad again. “I have friends who can and will bring me food.”

“We’ll unlock the door.”

“I have a combination lock on it that I can activate when the need arises, and only I know the code.”

“We’ll climb through the window, then.”

“I’ll put up a security camera and whoever comes to the window will be allowed to look in only if I say so, and you won’t be allowed to come close to me. I’ll also keep it locked unless someone I know and want to see comes along.

“Forget it, Jared. You’ll never be able to convince her to come out.” Mrs. Harrison put a hand gently on her husband’s arm. “Leave her alone. She’ll change her mind eventually.”

Autumn put down her sketchpad. “Well, I was kidding, Mom and Dad. I would really like a little sister, but just like you, Mom, I will take whatever God decides to give us, be it a boy or girl.”

“Autumn?”

“Huh? What?” Autumn sat up and opened her eyes. “Was I asleep?”

“Yes, you drifted off soon after our…conversation,” her mother replied, handing a chicken salad sandwich back to her. “It’s lunchtime. You can have an apple and some cookies when you’re done this.”

Autumn downed her lunch with great alacrity, not having eaten since seven thirty that morning.

“How much longer ‘til we’re home?” she asked.

“About two hours,” her father replied. “Why don’t you read Inkheart? Your mother got it for you, and she wanted you to read it on vacation. You haven’t finished it yet.”

“OK,” Autumn agreed, grabbing her travel bag and pulling out the book.

The instant their car pulled into the driveway, Autumn leapt out, holding her travel bag tightly. She had already seen her best friend and neighbor, Melody, sitting on their front steps, and was eager to greet her.

“Melody! You’ll never believe it!” she exclaimed as the two girls met in the middle of the front lawn and hugged each other. “I’m going to be a big sister!”

“No way! Autumn, that’s great!” congratulated Melody. “That’s funny, because yesterday, my mom announced that’s she’s expecting, too!”

Autumn’s mouth opened wide. “That’s funny!” she said. “How far along is your mom?”

“About two months,” Melody replied.

“That’s just a month ahead of mine,” Autumn said. “Maybe our siblings will grow up to be best friends!”

“Yeah,” Melody answered. “So, how was your trip?”

“Long,” Autumn said. “We spent hours hiking in the woods, and I wish you’d been there to see all the snakes that I saw!” She grinned. “I saw lots of diamondbacks and copperheads.”

Melody shuddered. “Ugh! You know how much I hate snakes, Autumn!”

Autumn smiled again. “I know. I’m just teasing you.”

“So, are your parents going to find out what your baby is?”

“I hope so. Are your parents going to?”

“Yes, sometime farther along in the pregnancy, around seven months, I think,” Melody replied. “With just me and a younger brother, they want to find out which gender is going to win in our home.”

“Dad and Mom want a boy,” Autumn pointed out. “Dad, because he already has ‘two ladies in the house’.”

“My dad wants a boy too, but he still has Preston, so the boys and girls are even.”

“You’re going to have a girl now,” Autumn laughed.

“Autumn! Come get this cooler please!” Mr. Harrison called.

“I have to go now! See ya later, Melody!” Autumn called as she went back to the family car and Melody headed to her home.

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