A new work by Dana Huebler (fiction, ’00), “Our Two Babies,” appears in Brain, Child:
My parents announced the news one night after supper, a few weeks after I’d started first grade.
“We have a surprise for you,” my father began in his deep, professorial voice, a smile tugging at his lips.
“Something new is coming to our house,” my mother added coyly.
“What?” I demanded.
“You have to guess,” my father answered, smiling fully now.
“We’re getting a new car?” my brother, Dorne, guessed. At 11, a replacement for our old Rambler was about the only surprise that could generate any excitement in him.
My parents shook their heads.
“A pony?” my nine-year-old sister, Darcy, offered, giving voice to the dying hope that one day she’d wake up to find a pony grazing in our backyard.
“No,” my father said, with a dry chuckle.
“A monkey!” I shouted. If my sister could reach for the impossible, so could I. But the fantasy evaporated with the laughter that erupted around me. “A monkey?” Darcy sneered.
I looked at our reflections in the kitchen window, where the black night pressed against the glass. I could almost taste the bracing chill of autumn. That year, caught up in the excitement of starting first grade, I was falling in love with fall: the abrupt shift in weather, the vibrant colors of the leaves, the crisp, deep blue of the October sky. On a clear autumn day, I could pretend I was living in a picture-perfect New England village instead of a drab, dying mill town on the Merrimack River.
As I gazed at our images on the glass, the answer came to me with a flash of certainty so clear I hardly raised my voice. “A baby,” I said, looking to my parents for confirmation. They smiled, then nodded, and a sweet light flooded through me. Even though the baby wouldn’t be born until spring, I shivered with the sense of change electrifying my world. I felt as though I’d been given a precious gift, one that I’d have to wait months to receive.