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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Birth (infancy) (08/20/09)

TITLE: Unconvinced
By Jan Ackerson
~1st Place


I was far too big to be carried; nevertheless, my father scooped me up and tousled my hair while my mother carefully laid the new baby in its bassinet. I struggled to get free—Dad’s whiskers itched, and I wanted my mother’s lap. She’d been gone five days, and I’d had to suffer Grandma’s strange cooking: mashed potatoes too stiff, cookies studded with raisins. For the moment, I wasn’t at all interested in the bassinet’s silent inhabitant.

I patted my mother’s rounded belly. She still looked pretty fat to me. I was unconvinced that there had been a baby in there, despite my parents’ highly suspect claims. It just didn’t seem likely—I poked around, suspiciously.

“Hey, Junebug.” My father took my hand. “Want to see your baby brother?”

He led me to the bassinet, and I peered in—and screamed. “Mom! Mom! Mom!”

My father knelt, his face near mine, while my mother pulled the bassinet toward her chair and gathered the bundle into her arms.

“What’s the matter, Junie?” Dad picked me up again, and tickled under my chin.

“It’s got no arms. Where are its arms?”

Dad set me on the floor. “He’s got arms, June-in-the-moon, look here.” I watched while he and my mother peeled away layers of soft blankets. Sure enough, there were two mottled pink-and-white arms.

I pulled my mother’s face to mine. “Does it have feet?”

She kissed my nose. “Your brother is a he, Junie, and yes, he has feet. Go ahead—find them.”

And there they were, at the ends of two impossibly tiny legs. They looked delicious; I wanted to bite them, but my mother quickly wrapped him up and laid him back in the bassinet.

Suddenly, I was wildly covetous of that bassinet. It had tiers of white eyelet ruffles, and a blue gingham ribbon circled the rim. I stood behind the little bed and started to work the ribbon loose with one finger. Given enough opportunity, I figured I could have it in my possession within a few days.

While I worked at the ribbon, the baby began to cry. My mother picked him up and fumbled with her buttons. This was interesting. I watched, my mouth hanging open—I could see my mother’s…

“Mom! Mom! What’s it doing, mom?” I stepped closer, both horrified and fascinated.

“This is how he eats, Junie.” She made some minute adjustments under her blouse.

Clearly, this was a lie. I knew for a fact that he didn’t have a spoon…and what had she smuggled under her blouse, anyway? If there was candy there, I wanted some. I leaned in to see exactly what the strange interloper was doing—and screamed again.

“Shhhh, Junie! Hush! What’s wrong, sweetheart?”

I covered my mouth in terror and pointed. “There’s something wrong with its head!” It was obvious that some small animal, perhaps a mouse, was in there, systematically trying to push its way out. “Mom, look…”

She drew my hand toward the baby’s head and thrilled me by softly placing my palm on the pulsing spot. “His bones haven’t quite closed yet. It’s fine. Promise me you won’t touch it, Junie.”

I pulled my fingers away. “I won’t touch it,” I said, and immediately began a plan for getting the baby to myself for further investigation.

Settling next to my mother, I pulled the bassinet close with my foot, and rested my cheek on her arm. She was gazing at the baby, who was making slurping sounds that would have gotten me a stern “Junie!” I considered protesting—this was certainly unfair—but my mother’s distraction allowed me to work at the gingham ribbon.

There was a sound like a sneaker pulling out of mud, and my mother produced the baby from under her blouse. She patted its back for a while, a procedure that didn’t much interest me. But then the baby did something truly wonderful—it produced a stream of upchuck both marvelous and horrifying.

“Mom! Mom!” But she was already wiping her shoulder with a diaper, while looking at the baby…with a smile. I had done a number of disgusting things in my life, but surely none of them had elicited such a look of adoration. This required a vast rearrangement of my worldview. Apparently, the rules had changed.

I decided to test this theory with a skill I’d acquired while my mother was gone. “Mom! Mom! Listen!” I let loose with a mighty burp.

The rules hadn’t changed, after all.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Charla Diehl 08/27/09
I liked seeing this birth through the eyes of the sister. Very cute.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/27/09
Just delightful! I could easily see the whole picture and visualize what a fit June was going to give her parents over her baby brother.
Chely Roach08/27/09
Ok, I love the title and the name Junie. This whole piece was so much fun, and I adored Junie's voice. "I had done a number of disgusting things in my life, but surely none of them had elicited such a look of adoration." Hilarious.
Robyn Burke08/27/09
chuckled my whole way through this. some delightful lines and scenes painted with your words. Great job!
Noel Mitaxa 08/28/09
Loved it. So natural, so innocent. But testing a rule change with a burp - did you need to bring that up?
Laury Hubrich 08/29/09
So cute. I love this POV and your cutie MC. Great story and I love the ending (and all that's in between.)
Ada Nett08/31/09
This was so cute! I loved peeking inside Junie's thoughts.
Bryan Ridenour08/31/09
Great look at what older siblings think and feel. Especially loved the closing humor!
Virgil Youngblood 08/31/09
A fun read. Some of the MC's vocabulary seemed mature for her age but it added to the enjoyment of the story.
Kimberly Russell08/31/09
Loved the humor---oh to see things from the eyes of the innocent. Great read, kept me interested and laughing from start to finish.
Mona Purvis08/31/09
Made me think back to when my daughter was born. After bringing her home in a snowstorm and being VERY tired, I had to pry her away from her screaming two-year-old brother who had been told for months he was getting a baby sister for Christmas. He thought she was his.
Loved the story.
Connie Dixon08/31/09
I'm still laughing out loud. This was great - I love your humor.
Eileen Knowles09/01/09
Thoroughly enjoyed. Too cute!
Joni Andrews 09/01/09
:: This required a vast rearrangement of my worldview. ::

Too cute! Thoroughly enjoyed this. Excellent writing skills.
Pamela Kliewer09/01/09
Love it!
Sheri Gordon09/02/09
Love the voice, and the little girl's name. This line made me laugh: "I patted my mother’s rounded belly. She still looked pretty fat to me." And I loved how Junie called her baby brother "it." Excellent writing, as always.
Karlene Jacobsen09/02/09
This one had me rolling. Great POV! Should've known it was yours, Jan. I think I need to spend more time with you.
Colin Nielsen09/02/09
Great voice. You're so good at this. I have a 6 yo daughter who is constantly doing these sorts of naughty things. Very realistic.
Sherrie Coronas09/02/09
The details are amazing and really bring us into the experience. As a growing writer, it's fun to study your wildly successful technique and style.
Catrina Bradley 09/02/09
I was transported back into childhood by Junie's thoughts. You really got into the head of a little girl. So so excellent.
Patricia Turner09/03/09
Ever so masterful. :-) I can so relate both from the viewpoint of the child and of the mother too. A big Congratulations!
Linda Boulanger09/03/09
Wonderful way to start my morning! Absolutely deserving of 1st place. Congratulations!
Marita Thelander 09/03/09
I am so glad I could piggyback on someone else's internet just so I could read this entry. Seriously, you made my morning. Grins and giggles that attracted my husband's attention so I had the pleasure of reading this out loud to him and made it very entertaining for him. A great reead-out-loud story.
Betty Castleberry09/03/09
What an adorable entry. I'm glad I read it. Congrats on your 1st place EC.
Allen Stark09/03/09
Great story and deserving of a first place finish. During the many years of my wife being the director of Birth Choice of the Desert in California, we heard many stories shared by mothers of how the older sibs reacted to the births of newborns. Your story fits in very well.
Chelsie May09/03/09
ROFLOL!! That is just priceless!
Eliza Evans 09/03/09
Sorry...but the first word that comes to my mind is... Gorgeous. OK. Delicious is another one.

Funny? YES

Clever? YES

Fun? YES

But I can't help it. It's mostly gorgeous to me. The writing is so solid and so sure-footed. I am inspired.

HUGE Congrats on 1st, Jan!!

Nicole Van Der Merwe 09/06/09
I absolutely loooved this story. It had good humor and as I am pretty new to the whole FR thing I got a lot to learn from people like you.
Genuine Suede10/14/09
"There was a sound like a sneaker pulling out of mud, and my mother produced the baby from under her blouse."

I love this description. :0) Very powerful use of the senses.

This was a great visit into the mind of a child who is faced with a new sibling.