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Orange Headscarf

The cold breeze hit my face when I walked through the school gates. My hair was flying in the air. The tips of my fingers were becoming numb from the cold. Red, orange, and yellow leaves falling everywhere. I could hear people talking and kids laughing. When I turned around, I saw my mom in her beautiful winter coat and dark blue jeans. Her dark brown hair was going different directions in the wind. Her cheeks were red like fresh-picked apples. She looked nervous and excited, her smile big and her eyes running back and forth. When I walked up to her, I saw her beautiful brown eyes staring straight into mine. She said she had great news . . .

*          *          *

A few years ago I remember sitting in bed with my parents. They started talking about how great it would be to have another baby. Suddenly all of my emotions changed. Out of nowhere I started crying because I thought I wouldn’t be their favorite anymore. Later that day I was sitting in their bed staring at the ceiling, my face still as stone, my eyes wide open, staring into nowhere.

*          *          *

My mom began talking again. I felt the same way—scared. What was she going to say? Everything changed after these words . . .

“You are getting a sibling,” she said. Her voice was filled with happiness. My eyes were full of tears. I have been an only child my whole life. I felt frozen. I felt sad and scared. Then we started walking home. As I walked into the lobby, I could feel the temperature changing from freezing cold to comforting warmth. I could feel the last tear trace down my cheek as I walked toward the elevators. I heard a ding, and the elevator doors opened.

My mom’s keys rustled as she reached for the door. I walked right after her. My mom then turned around and said, “I didn’t believe it at first either. I went to CVS three times just to get some other pregnancy tests.” We started laughing for no good reason.

My mom was standing there with a smile on her face and in her hands was a strip of black-and-white pictures. It was a picture of the baby.

I wasn’t scared to get a sibling. I was scared it would change the relationship between me and my mom; maybe she wouldn’t have time for me anymore. My whole life, I had told my mom everything—every secret, every thought, every feeling I had. She was always there for me. She listened to me, understood me. I was scared she wouldn’t anymore.

“We’re going to have so much fun! You will take them to school, teach them how to read, dress them up,” Mom said with a wide smile, her eyes glowing the brightest I have ever seen. I knew she was happy. Somehow my mom and I were connected. When she was happy, I was happy. She made me feel loved and understood all the time.

“I would have someone to look out for,” I said. Soon we were fantasizing about how it would be. We laughed, we smiled. I wrapped my arms around her as fast as I could. I could feel the warmth and comfort. Her hair gently brushed against my face. I was happy and excited for what adventures would come along next. Soon I heard the phone ring, and my mom rushed to get it.

“Hi, why are you calling?” My mom asked. I knew it was my dad. My mom came close to me and said, “Your dad wants to ask you something.” I grabbed the phone as I hear his voice say,

“How are you feeling?” I knew he was asking this due to what I just found out.

“Awesome. I’m so excited!” I knew this would be one of the happiest things that happened to me this year. I knew the baby would be something small but would make my world so much better.

A week later, I could smell the antiseptic everywhere as I walked into the doctor’s office.

“Sit down, please,” the doctor said as me and my parents walked towards the round black table. “May I just ask you a question?” he asked in his calm, deep voice.

“Sure,” my mom responded.

“How long has it been since you had your first child?” he asked, and soon I looked up from my phone knowing he was talking about me. “Ten years,” my mom said calmly.

“Okay. Follow me, please. I just need to check something,” he said as my mom stood up from her seat and went after him.

I didn’t know where they were going. Right away all the bad thoughts rushed to my head. Is everything okay? Why are they going away? I thought. As soon as they left, the room was filled with silence. My dad and I sat there, waiting. As I looked around the office, I saw many pictures of kids, adults, and babies on the light-gray walls. It seemed like each one had its own memory and story. I knew that soon we would be on those walls. I looked at my phone and saw that it was already 4:30. They were still not back. Where were they? What happened? Was everything okay?

Soon I heard the door creak loudly. My mom was standing there with a smile on her face and in her hands was a strip of black-and-white pictures. It was a picture of the baby. A smile appeared on my face. In months, I would have this tiny person in my life to look out for, to love.

*          *          *

A few weeks later I remember the warm summer breeze, the sun shining on my face. As my parents and I were walking down the street, my mom turned to us and said,

“Let’s go into that store.” Her smile was wide, her eyes shining bright. As I turned around, I saw a store full of baby clothes, cribs, blankies, stuffed animals—it all seemed so cute and tiny. As we walked into the store, I could smell sweet vanilla. I could hear people talking about what to buy.

I turned to my mom and asked, “Are we getting something?”

She looked at me with her deep brown eyes and said, “It’s too early to start buying things.” We had really just found out, so I got it.

We lived normally for months, excited. We looked through almost every baby magazine, thought about tons of baby names, unique ones, basic ones. We thought about whether it’d be a girl or a boy.

“It’s a girl,” my mom said. Her smile got wider every day. It seemed she was happier than she had ever been. I knew that I was happier than I have ever been. I was already imagining myself picking out clothes for her, teaching her how to read, buying her gifts for every single one of her birthdays. Being there for her when she was sad, being there when she was happy.

*          *          *

And then came the day when everything changed. The warm, comforting sun hit my face as I studied for my math test. I felt like something bad was going to happen. I was going to my mom to ask her when we were leaving for Russian school. As I walked into the room, I saw my mom lying in bed crying. It seemed like she was about to call me.

“What happened?” I ask.

“Something is wrong. Call your dad,” she said with her voice shaking. I ran to my room as fast as I could, grabbing my phone, trying to find my dad’s contact.

“Hey, Dad,” I said in a shaky voice. I knew that he knew something was wrong.

“Hi. What happened?” He asked.

“Something happened with Mom. I really don’t know. When I came into the room she was crying,” I said, sobbing. It felt like tens of hundreds of weights had fallen on my back.

“Put your mom on the phone,” he said. I ran toward my mom and gave her the phone. Her eyes were red and her smile gone.

“Mom, Dad wants to talk to you,” I said. I heard them talking about my mom calling the doctor, my dad coming to get her.

“Okay, okay,” my mom said as she hung up the phone. “Alina, go get a bag and get me a fresh pair of clothes, please. Dad and I have to go to the hospital.”

Right away, I rushed to get all her stuff, and when I was done my dad knocked at the door. My mom got up from the bed and went down with my dad. I kissed them goodbye.

“I love you,” I said.

“I love you too,” my mom said.

What was happening to my mom? Where was she? What were they doing? My mind wasn’t able to let go. Once in a while tears, streamed down my cheek.

I sat at the table, my tears still pouring. All I could think about was where my mom was and what was happening. As my tears dropped, they left wet stains on my math paper. I had a test the next day I thought I would fail. My brain wouldn’t work properly. Everything was messed up; nothing was right.

My dad called me and said I could go over to my best friend Lise; he had talked to her mom. My best friend, Lise, lived in my building, just a few floors below me.

“Ok, thank you! Love you. Bye,” I said as I ran to get my keys. The elevator was cold like the air outside.

I knocked at the door. Three seconds later, Lise opened it. She hugged me, and I felt like I had at least someone there for me. We ran into her room and she grabbed her iPad and turned on Friends, the only show that could cheer both of us up.

Later we moved into the living room. Still no call from my parents, and I was worried, more worried than I have ever been. When it was already getting late, Lise’s mom said, “Why don’t you stay here overnight?”

“Sure. Let me just ask my dad,” I said.

“Hey, Dad. Can I stay here overnight?” I asked.

“Sure. Just go to the apartment and get your stuff,” my dad replied.

“Ok, bye, love you,” I said.

“Love you too. Bye,” he said.

“Sure. I just have to get my stuff,” I said to Lise’s mom.

Lise and I ran to the elevator. My keys jingled in my hand. As I opened the door, I dashed into my room, packing my school stuff, pajamas, clothes, toothbrush, and soon I was ready to go.

After getting ready, we were sitting in bed talking. Soon, Lise’s parents came in to say goodnight. It made me miss my parents. They would always go into my room to tell me that they loved me and to say goodnight. This night was different. They weren’t there. When her parents left the room, I started crying and my face turned red. My cheeks were wet.

“Everything is going to be okay,” Lise said as she turned around, and soon fell asleep. I spent most of the night thinking. What was happening to my mom? Where was she? What were they doing? My mind wasn’t able to let go. Once in a while tears, streamed down my cheek. The thought of something bad happening kept me from falling asleep.

School was a nightmare. All day I was scared something had happened. When someone asked me why I was sad, I started to cry, not knowing how to stop. When the day was finally over, I saw my dad standing outside, ready to take me home.

“Alina, you’ll have to wait a little to have a sibling,” he said.

I knew what he meant. Everything was falling apart. I started sobbing without context, not saying anything. I hugged him as hard as I could.

As we walked into the apartment, I saw my mom and as fast as I could, I ran up to her, crying. We went to sit in their bed to talk. I remember my mom sitting on my left, dad on my right. We cried together and my mom said, “Bad things will happen. We can’t prevent that. But what we can do is love, be happy and grateful for what we have, and what we will have.”

That night I remember hugging my parents, feeling the appreciation for what we do and don’t have, the comfort and love.

Alina Khilchenko
Alina Khilchenko, 11
New York, NY

Claire Jiang
Claire Jiang, 12
Princeton, NJ