April Showers, May Flowers
The news of my soon-to-be baby sibling couldn't have come at a worse time. My father had lost his job two days prior, and my elderly grandfather had recently moved in with us. I had just started my fourth year of schooling, and gotten used to the fact that I was an only child, and would stay that way forever.
I wasn't spoiled like some only children were. My parents, even when they were both working, were never rich. My mother was a substitute teacher, and my father a telemarketer. Neither had inherited any money from their parents. We were used to being poor. Growing up, I had two toys: my blue-and-yellow tricycle, (it was fifty pounds cheaper than the pink tricycle with streamers) and my porcelain doll, Elizabeth. I rather liked being the only child; my parents could pay more attention to me, and there was no competing for grades. We lived a nice life, for poor people. Every day after school, my mother would have a glass of milk and small cookie waiting for me. I would talk about my day with my grandfather, and my father, when he still had his job, would come home twenty minutes before dinner. They also insisted that I call them 'mother', 'father', and 'grandfather', rather than 'mom', 'dad', or grandpa'. They said it was more proper, and even families living in poverty could be proper.
So when I came home from school that warm September day, I was surprised to find my mother, father, and grandfather waiting for me in the living room. There was no cookie, no milk, and grandfather didn't ask how my day was. All three had solemn expressions on their faces, and I was a bit scared.
"Sit down, Petunia," My dad instructed.
I perched myself on the edge of grandfather's chair, and looked expectantly up at my parents.
"Petunia, dear, we have some news," my mother started.
"Good or bad?" I prompted.
"It's…complicated," my father said. "We-that is, your mother-is pregnant."
I looked from my father to my mother, confused. A baby was a good thing, wasn't it? I wouldn't be an only child anymore, and would have a new best friend. Once the kid got old enough to talk, at least.
"That's it?" I asked, puzzled, "That's the news? It doesn't seem too bad to me."
"You don't understand, Petunia," my father ran a hand through his auburn hair; "We can't afford another child."
"What do you mean?" I asked. How could you not afford a child?
"Food and clothes cost a lot of money, Petunia dear,"
"She can have my hand-me-downs, can't she?"
"That's just the thing, we don't know if it will be a boy or a girl yet. And we're barely making ends meet as it is…" my father trailed off.
"Well what are you going to do? You can't get rid of a baby!"
"We might have to put it up for adoption, sweetheart. We really can't afford another member of this family. There are four of us now, and with the cost of more food, baby clothes, and the hospital bills, we can't make it. We can't afford to have this baby."
"But you have to! You can't just get rid of a baby! If mother lost her job, would you put me up for adoption?"
Grandfather ran a hand through my blonde hair, and spoke for the first time since I arrived home.
"Of course not, sweetheart. Your parents and I will do anything we can to keep this baby. We don't want to get rid of your future sibling, either. Don't worry; you will have a baby brother or sister in nine months."
He looked up at my parents, who were practically giving him matching death-glares.
"Joseph, I thought we said we weren't going to give her false hope!"
Grandfather turned to face my father directly.
"I'm not giving her false hope, Michael. I'll do anything to make sure you two can keep this baby. Now, if you'll excuse us, I want to talk to Petunia."
My parents glanced at each other and nodded, slowly shuffling out of the room. Once they had disappeared, my grandfather turned to me.
"Petunia, dear, I promise with all my heart that I will make sure your parents keep this baby. I don't like the idea of a stranger taking care of one of my grandchildren, and I'd really rather see this kid grow up in person."
"I could get a job!" I suggested. Yeah, a job! I could baby-sit, or work as one of those people who puts groceries in bags at the store, or-
"No. You're too young for a job, Pet. We'll figure something out, don't you worry."
He closed his eyes tightly for a second.
"I'm fine," he said quickly, opening his eyes, "Just a headache."
He pulled me onto his lap and smiled.
"So how was school?"