The Orlando sun stomped and pressed into our backs so that we may never forget it. We moved up in the line. Catherine was rubbing your swollen stomach and dad was reading safety brochures he had received from the hotel. I had begged you for a trip like this ever since I was old enough to watch television on the weekdays.
   We had arrived a few days earlier and by now had a regular breakfast order. The amusement park was not quite how I had envisioned it when I was back home. The people were pink and the rides were shiny. I thought the mouse would greet me personally and take me on adventures. Instead it was more like swiping credit cards ,waiting for the beep, getting a receipt, and carrying heavy luggage. We hadn’t been on many rides at that point, it was like we all had to be careful.
  You two were in love, and he was very protective of you. Catherine, your other daughter, and I were close at this time, ignorant of our brewing rivalry for your attention . We both wore braids but I wore mine with beads. I had multicolored beads in the summer  you know, because I was only allowed black and blue beads during school time. On special occasions I chose clear beads; you knew those were my favourite.
   I was born in the summer, and so I like to think any travel done between June and August is done in honor of me. This trip was mine. I acted accordingly, especially because it was August. I drank soda with breakfast and asked dad for pocket money everyday. I remember leading us into a store after we got into the park and out of the humid,dense line. I walked ahead and hurried my slow parents. Catherine stayed close to me most of the time. Looking back, it may have been her way of protecting me from seeing you and dad up close. Up close you both were worried, scared and mortal, but I couldn’t tell. The shop looked like I expected America to look; full of stuff I’d beg you to buy me. I walked through the convoluted, stuffed isles alone. The dolls were stocked to the ceiling and the teddy bears mountained in gridded bins. Everyone was touching everything. I studied the shelves for dolls that looked like me and found myself clutching onto the Arabian princess. Not quite. I felt a slight tug on my hair and turned around to find a pair of blue eyes and a pair of legs staring at me. They smiled at me.
“Your hair is really beautiful” she said. Her eyes widened and she grabbed a few more strands of my hair to examine the lattice.
“Thank you” I said. I pulled my head back slowly and kept eye contact with her. She didn’t even seem real.
     I headed out the isle, and started wanting things I never knew existed. But then I found Catherine by the watches. She was trying some on, and you were sitting in a corner nearby. Dad was fanning you with the safety pamphlets, and you were using a piece of cloth to wipe your glowing face while waving to us. You were a round woman with a fair complexion and soft curly hair. Your voice was low , soft and your hugs were warm and overwhelming. Since the pregnancy our relationship had become strange, for both of us. You couldn’t pick mangoes with me or swim at the beach.  Catherine and I had to love you from a distance because dad created a sacred barrier around you and your belly. Because of your belly, you weren’t really around.
   I saw something shiny from the corner of my eyes and said that I wanted it. No one heard me or even bothered to look my way, so I stole it. It was purple band with hideous rhinestones around the pink face. I wore it on my wrist and walked out the store, hoping that maybe you’d notice and teach me a lesson about taking without saying anything.
         It had taken three rides and two meals before anyone realized.
“Where’d you get that watch?” Catherine's said over a mouthful of cotton candy.
“The store” I said.
“What store?” dad said, in between cutting up your food.
He held my wrist up and looked up at me with frustration.
“You didn’t ask for this did you?” he said.
“Well-” I said. I was interrupted by your laughter.
Dads neck zipped around to look at you and then back at me as I developed a chuckle. He was confused and conflicted.
“It’s fine, it’s fine, I’ll take her back to return it. Stay here” you said.
It was the first time you had spoken that day.
We all looked over at him for approval.
          I began to walk hand in hand with you, there was something unfamiliar about it. Your fingers were chubby and heavy to hold. Your skin was glistening and your feet were wide. You waddled instead of walked. We returned the watch quietly hoping not to get caught; not because of the trouble I would be in, but because we were tired of hardening our “r”s to talk to the other people. We caught up like old friends and I tried to tell you why I stole the watch but was interrupted by the rush of water that came over my shoes.
You stopped. I stopped.
You looked down and saw that the water was coming from between your legs. I didn’t know what to do. You took your hands off your belly and looked down at it like it was detached from your body, like the hoax was up.
“Get him” is what I think you said. I couldn’t recognize you in that moment.
I ran as fast as I could. My knees felt every connection I made to the ground. The park was thick with people. I pushed their arms out of the way and jumped over people tying their shoelaces. At one point it felt like my shoes didn’t even touch the hot cobblestone. I made my way past streaks of blue, red, and purple; that’s how fast I was going.
 I was so fast that I fell into dad. I was breathing heavily and my eyes were blurry. Later ,I’d go on to easily recognize this feeling as a panic attack.
“Where’s your mother?” he asked
I pointed, and he ran without me having to say a word.
I looked over at Catherine, and all we did was stare at each other, communicating, before we raced behind him. By the time we had gotten back to him there was an ambulance taking you away and golf cart waiting for us. Those safety pamphlets.
“Your father is in the ambulance we’re going to need you to come with us to the hospital” a strange face said to me. He was tall, that’s all I remember.
We climbed onto the golf cart where the seats were hot and stuck to our thighs. The ride was bumpy and I remember Catherine holding me for the entire time. She later denied this. -
         The hospital waiting room seats were less hot. The hum of the vending machines were loud and the people were quiet. It got really late and Catherine and I had already played several rounds of “I-spy”. Soon, a friend of yours had entered the hospital. She was the type of friend who you only brought around in the Christmas time, when her husband allowed her to travel alone. I’m also sure you told me she believed in her daily horoscope too. I always thought she resented Catherine and I ,because she ended up with two boys with an affinity for insects. I was surprised she was here.
“I guess they’re not coming out for now” Catherine said.
“I guess she’s our ride” I said.
She rushed over to us and embraced us boldly.
“Girls, you’re going to be staying with me, while your parents stay here” she said to us moving her head from side to side to look into both of our eyes.
“I thought she wasn’t due for another couple months” Catherine said to her.
“Well Mary said she was a virgin” she said with a light chuckle. She could tell we weren’t in the mood for jokes. Dad came over to say goodbye. He was sweaty despite the hospital being the coldest room I had ever been in. He also avoided eye contact. Two forehead kisses and we were off.

           Aunty Michelle had set us up in an empty room with a bunk bed on the downstairs portion of her home. We could still hear her and her husband fighting though. Her sons were off at a football camp. They called it soccer. We wore their clothes and I played with their toy trucks. My sister picked up some of their comic books to read, we were just looking for something to replace the thinking.
“Catherine what did you mean she’s not due for a couple more months” I said.
“Mom told me it takes nine month for a baby to enter the world” she said
“Oh” I said.
“Maybe it’s just a special baby” she said putting her hand and rocking it back and forth.
“Maybe” I said.
           In the morning we played a game of rock, paper, scissors to see who should leave the room and get cereal. I lost and walked toward the kitchen with low shoulders and a bad attitude. The house was quiet, Aunty Michelle's husband must’ve been gone. I entered the kitchen and searched through every ivory cupboard I could reach.
“We don’t keep sugary cereal in the house” she said.
I was startled and turned around to see her smoking a cigarette in a silver nightgown. The morning light caught the red tips of her hair which made it look like she was on fire.
I had only seen cigarettes in old grainy films dad would let me watch with him, when he thought you were sleeping.
“I hide some in the garage though, you guys want some?” she said. Her expression wasn’t friendly, but I nodded and we headed toward the back. I felt like her business partner.
She opened a box labeled FRAGILE and gave me about five options.
I chose the first one I saw and hurried to prepare it. It felt like she wanted to talk.
“Thanks for letting us stay here” I said.
“I’d do anything for your mother” she said as she put cigarette out on a plate.
     Two more strange days passed -one of them being my birthday-. Each day was slower than the one before. Aunty Michelle drove us to the hospital and waited with us again. The nurses looked through us when we told them who we were waiting on.  I remember seeing dad slip between the doors of the hospital and approach us. He was in the same clothes except these clothes were covered in spit , sweat and tears. He looked at his feet before kneeling in front of us. Aunty got up and ran toward the bathroom before he could say a word.
  He started to apologise to us. He told us that you had lost the baby and that our trip would be cut short. He spoke slowly and looked directly into our eyes. He told us the risk we took by travelling. He told us that he loved us. He told us that we would not have a baby brother. He told us we had to go home.
   I remember Catharine crying into me, and dad, into himself. I felt so small in the room and so weak next to everyone. I let myself cry, not for your baby but for you. I also cried for dad and for the fact that I knew he blamed himself. I cried for Catherine, knowing that all she had was me.

 You told us nothing. The next sixteen hours were spent on packing and booking the next flight out. You spoke to no one. Our father thanked your friend, took our bags to a taxi and then onto a plane. If you were untouchable then, you were more so now. When we got back home you spent most of your time at grandmas ,and dad started taking me to school. Catherine stayed over at her friends every weekend and I played in the red dirt under the sweltering sun. We never spoke about it and all our friends and family were told to never mention it again. We all had to be very careful.

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