Hard In Coming

By the time the baby arrived, Emmi's mother's stomach looked like she was hiding a sofa pillow under her shirt, and Emmi had written sixteen short stories, composed eight piano sonatas, painted five oil paintings, built nineteen models, and watched eighty-three nature programs on Discovery Channel.

Mrs. Carlo went to the hospital in a taxi, and Emmi's father came home from work early to stay with his daughter. He brought a carton of chinese takeout and rented a movie, and afterwards, when the call came, they drove to the hospital to see Emmi's new sister.

In her mother's hospital room, both of her parents told her that they had decided to let Emmi name the baby. "Great," she said, and she named her sister Cornelia. Cornelia Rowena Margurite Carlo. "Just don't call her Corny," remarked Emmi's father as he signed the birth certificate.

As Emmi had predicted, Cornelia was red-faced and crying, but the older sister found to her surprise that she felt more attached to the baby that she had expected. Perhaps it was the closeness of getting to choose the name. Either way, when it was time to bring both her mother and Neelie home, she was almost excited at the idea of having a new baby around.

Mr. and Mrs. Carlo had converted the guest bedroom into a nursery, with yellow-flowered wallpaper, and they'd dragged Emmi's old crib and changing table down from the attic. "A baby's pretty hard in coming," Mr. Carlo liked to joke, "So we might as well reuse and reduce while we're at it."

"One of the ladies in my sewing club has a wicker rocking chair she'd be willing to sell us," Mrs. Carlo had added. "And Emmi's old toys--well, you know, she never really was the type to play with dolls. Once she got that chemistry set for her first birthday, she pretty much abandoned them all. I'm sure Cornelia will appreciate these Barbies and Tallytots someday."

By the time Cornelia was a month old, Emmi had taken to wearing earplugs to bed, because the baby's earth-shattering screams every two hours were enough to wake the dead. Unfortunatly her parents, who had to get up and tend to the fussy infant, couldn't take such a liberty as earplugs. "Strong cries are signs of strong character," Mr. Carlo remarked cheerfully as he got up to fix a third bottle for his newest daughter. "At this rate, we'll have a regular Susan B. Anthony on our hands before she's two."

"Oh dear, I hope not," said Mrs. Carlo.

The End

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