I came home from school and immediately heard raised voices in the house. Or rather, one raised voice – Dad’s. And I knew without even seeing the other people near him what this was all about.
Two Weeks Ago
I was feeling sleepy and the bathroom shared by me and my sister Millie has been occupied for over an hour. I could use the downstairs bathroom, or the one in our parents’ room, but my toothbrush was in this one, so…
“Millie? You in there? Is everything ok?” I tentatively knocked on the door. No response.
“Millie, come on! I won’t look, I just need to get my toothbrush and leave!” Still no response.
I knew girls usually took longer in the bathroom for makeup and stuff, but come on, this was ridiculous! It wasn’t even school time, it was bedtime, and Millie used minimal makeup and was usually fast…
“I’m serious, is everything ok?” worry began to prickle at me. I was only in fourth grade, but my sister and I were very close. It wasn’t normal for her to just shut me out like this, with no response.
I thought I could head a muffled sob mixed with a sigh. I tried the door and to my relief found it unlocked.
“Heads up, I’m coming in,” I announced, stepping in.
My sister was fully dressed (well, in her pjs, that is) and she was slumped on the floor, staring at the wall, with a panicky expression on her face.
“Millie? What’s wrong? You can tell me,” I was always willing to help my sister out.
“What’s wrong? Mom and Dad are going to kill me, that’s what’s wrong,” she sighed.
Next to her was one of those little sticks they always showed on TV, the ones people used to find out they were-
“Are you pregnant?!” I blurted out. Even from where I was standing, I could see the test showed two strips.
“Shush!” she bit her lip in panic. “Our parents will hear!”
“They’re out! Or have you forgotten?” I smiled.
“I’m sorry, my brain is all scrambled right now,” she shook her head.
“So, what are you going to do now?” I asked, joining her on the floor. “I mean, you’ll have to decide soon, right?”
“I’ve decided already. I’m keeping the baby. It’s not even a question,” she announced.
“Then, you should probably tell Mom and Dad before you start showing. Unless, you want them to figure it out once your belly starts growing.”
“I will,” she nodded. “I just need to figure out how to do it without them freaking out too much. Hey, how do you even know all this grown-up stuff? You’re in fourth grade.”
“That doesn’t mean my eyes and ears are closed off to the world. Besides, it was bound to happen once you and Quiang started, what do you guys call it, hooking up?”
“Phoenix!!!” My sister shrieked. It was hilarious, really. Wen Quiang was her close childhood friend, and I guess, as they grew up, they became closer still. I don’t know if our parents realized it, but they’ve started dating some time ago and Millie was definitely head over heels for the guy. And I was quite sure our folks didn’t realize how far they’ve gone in their relationship.
“What? I’m just stating the facts. Hey, when did you guys begin sleeping together anyways? I thought you were both super busy.” My sister was in the advanced biology program at the local high school and on top of her already impressive school, she was doing a zoological internship at a local lab. Plus, she was still taking art classes. She has little time on her time, in general, and as far as I knew, Quiang, being a senior in high school, was almost as stressed out and overworked as she was. The fact that they found time to make a baby was really surprising.
My sister sighed. “It’s all because of homecoming. Sort of,” she explained. “You know how a lot of girls think Quiang is cute? Well, that translates into them not liking me very much, because he’s with me. And at homecoming, stuff kind of escalated. As soon as he and I showed up together, they started acting like a bunch of vultures, glaring at us, snickering. Another person wouldn’t have cared, but I can’t help it, this stuff gets to me. Anyways, Quiang noticed and he suggested we leave for someplace friendlier. So we headed off to that lodge in the mountains, since it’s always really nice and fresh there, and they were supposed to have one of those outdoor movie nights, but apparently we got the day wrong. Anyways, I was still upset and neither of us wanted to go home, so we ended up getting a room so we could just chill out and watch a movie together, but… well, once we had a room, we kind of realized that we probably wouldn’t have a chance like this in the near future, with the comfort and the privacy, and one thing led to another… And then, after the first time, there wasn’t really a reason to stop sleeping together.”
“I see,” I nodded. “Well, that’s done. Does he know yet?”
“No, I didn’t want to tell him until I knew for sure,” she admitted. “I don’t even know how he’ll react. Neither of us planned for this.”
“Well, if he is as good as he seems to be, he’ll man up and take responsibility, right?” At least, that’s what I always heard a guy was supposed to do in this situation.
“I guess, we’ll see, dear brother, I guess we’ll see. Well, thanks for lending me a friendly ear. I could sure use it,” she admitted.
“That’s what brothers are for,” I pulled her into a hug. “Do you want me to sit with you when you tell Mom and Dad?”
“Thanks. I think I should do it myself, though,” she shook her head. “I’ll do it soon.”
“Alright, sis. See you in the morning,” I headed off to sleep, still thinking about my sister’s problematic situation.
I didn’t know much about babies, but from what I knew, they took a lot of work. This meant, Millie was in deep.
So, today, when I walked in and heard raised voices in the house, I knew she finally told out folks about her situation.
“I can’t believe you of all people are in this situation!” Dad was pacing around the living room while Mom and Millie were slumped in the couch and the armchair, watching him. “You’re an A+ student in Biology; surely you know how these things happen!”
“I know Dad,” Millie spoke quietly. “And we were responsible. We used protection. But these things happen.”
“So what are you doing now?” Dad asked with exhaustion in his voice. He and Mom were the owners of the local pharmaceutical company and from what I understood about the business, it was very stressful and tiring. But while Mom and Dad usually seemed to have a lot of energy, Millie’s news must have taken a lot out of them.
Frankly, I didn’t understand why. Mom always said children were a miracle. So, if anyone, she should’ve been happy, right?
Just as I predicted, she glared at Dad as soon as he asked the question and he noticed, glancing down apologetically.
“I’m keeping the baby, of course!” Millie announced.
Mom breathed a sigh of relief. Dad shook his head in acceptance.
“I didn’t plan for this child, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want them,” my sister admitted. “I’ve always wanted children. Not that early, true, but now that it’s happening, I already love them with all my heart and can’t wait to meet them.”
“And look on the bright side, David,” Mom added. “At least we know for sure Millie doesn’t have my kind of problem. That’s already good.”
“True,” he sighed, “I guess congratulations are in order?” He sank into the seat next to the rest of the family. “You’re going to be a mom!”
“I know, Dad. You know, I bet it’s a boy,” Millie smiled.
“How do you know that?” Mom laughed. “It’s not even late enough to tell.”
“Call it a gut feeling.”
It was looking like the situation in our living room was getting diffused and the family has peacefully accepted the situation. That was good. That meant Millie wouldn’t have to worry more than necessary (that’s right, I knew it was bad for pregnant ladies to worry) and that we could have dinner relatively soon.
And also, that I could finally stop hiding.
“Ay! Is everyone finally on the same page? Millie’s pregnant, you’re going to be grandparents, and I’m going to be an uncle. Awesome-sauce! Now can we all go eat? I’m sure Millie must be hungry now, and frankly, so am I,” I went over to my family reminding them that the world didn’t stop.
“Phoenix? You were here all along? How much did you hear? Wait, you knew all along, didn’t you?” Mom asked, realizing that this was only news to them.
“Duh! Millie was scared to tell you for weeks now. Thanks for not being too angry at her,” I smiled at my parents.
“No point being angry now, is there?” Dad shrugged. “Well, not at Millie, at least.”
“Dad! Quiang isn’t to blame for this. We’re both responsible,” my sister defended her boyfriend.
“You are. And just so you know, you aren’t leaving school, young lady. We still expect you to stay on top of your grades,” Dad warned.
“Wasn’t planning to leave. And I’m not quitting the internship either. I’ve worked hard enough for it, I’ve earned it. Maybe that way, the baby can have important skills later, right out of the womb? Studies show that what a mother does during her pregnancy has a huge impact on the child’s development,” Millie reasoned.
That was my sister. She always had the right priorities in life. I had no idea what my future nephew would be like, but I knew he would have the best mother ever.
Of course, there was still one thing to do. In a few days, she called over her boyfriend and simply put a pregnancy book in front of him, when he sat down next to her, while reading one herself.
“Here, this one’s for you,” she told him.
Quiang was stunned for a few moments, but luckily quickly came to his senses.
“You don’t mean it, do you?” he asked carefully.
“I do. I’m at the end of first trimester, it seems. The doctor confirmed I’m even further along than I thought,” my sister explained calmly. “But that doesn’t matter in the least. I want this baby. I’m keeping the baby.”
“Millie!” he exclaimed. And to everyone’s surprise, he hugged her very tight, kissing her. “Thank you!”
“You’re happy?” Millie looked confused. “You aren’t freaked out?”
“Oh, I am. I’m scared silly. But I’m also kind of happy. You know how my parents wanted to go back to China permanently once school was done? Well, now that won’t happen. There’s no way they are going to ditch their grandkid and go to a different country now! And we are having a baby together! Have you begun thinking of baby names yet?”
“Not yet, I wanted to tell you first…” my sister was clearly surprised by his fervor.
“That’s cool. We’ve got months to decide. And just so you know, whatever you need, I’m here. I’m going to be a hundred percent here for both you and the baby,” he promised.
And that sealed it. My sister’s boyfriend was a good guy, after all.
Quiang stayed with us quite late, that night. Even after our parents went to bed, he and Millie were still chatting together and making plans for their relationship and for the baby.
He even asked her to slow dance with him, when the radio began to play a popular slow ballad. And from Millie’s shining eyes, anyone could tell that, despite her unexpected pregnancy, she was really happy. They both were.
It was late and I had to go to sleep, since school was early in the morning and my teacher always yelled at me if I began to drift off in class.
On the way to my room, I once again, looked at the happy couple. They didn’t even notice me observing them. I couldn’t help but wonder how they knew that the other person was “the one” for them, have known for years now. It seemed like a really foreign idea. After all, there were so many different people in the world. But then again, I still had time to figure it all out. I was only in fourth grade.
Despite morning sickness, backaches and other symptoms of pregnancy, Millie really glowed during hers. She actually had a countdown on her wall, where she eagerly marked off the days until my new nephew was here. Even our dog Sherlock seemed to be in on the excitement, but then again, animals often reflected their favorite owners’ emotions.
After several more months of this, she finally went into labor and gave birth to a little boy named Terrence. And despite how tired she was from taking care of him, she was absolutely in love with him.
I liked my new nephew. He was cute and he seemed like a bright kid, although he was still kind of young to tell. But the amount of care he required? It was immense. I had no idea how my sister stayed on top of it all. Sure my parents, Quiang, and his family helped out, but still.
Babies sure took a lot of work.
I knew one thing for sure: if I were ever to have kids of my own, it would be once I was much, much older.