"A blasted curse," Zoe complained as she forced the writhing bundle into Betsy's arms. "Just get it out of here."
Betsy jiggled the baby and gawked at her big sister, who shoved bloodied towels and rags into a trash bag. The birth had been a battlefield—intense and gory. Betsy couldn't fathom how Zoe had endured it in silence.
"Go on. You know what to do." Zoe’s impatience spread like turpentine on a wound.
"Are you really sure?"
“We've been over this, like, a thousand times. Go, get out of here before the thing starts crying again,” Zoe snapped. “You've got to do the dump fast and get right home."
"But the cleanup, it's such—"
"I'll take care of this. You've got to hurry. It was easy enough to hide my weight gain with baggy clothes. Mom's so preoccupied all the time." Disdain stiffened Zoe’s face as she pointed to the baby. "But there's no way I can hide that. And Mom can't know." Her voice quavered. "She’d always hold it against me."
With thoughts jumbled like dice in a shaker, Betsy carried her nephew three blocks to Fire Station No. 3, where her seventh-grade class had taken a field trip a few weeks ago. The captain was tall and solid with a superhero voice. At the entrance, Betsy knelt and placed the babe on a gray rubber mat, averting her eyes from the life just begun. She rose and turned to walk away, staving off a confusion of feelings with clenched teeth. She took a step toward the sidewalk, hoping the captain would be the one to find him. The boy could do worse than be greeted by a hero, she thought.
Then a tiny whimper cracked her resolve. She returned to her nephew and took him into her arms. After peeling the blanket from his face, she looked into his deep blue eyes and said, "Welcome to this big, fat, complicated world, kiddo." Then she reached up and rang the bell, certain her sister would never forgive her. Heart pounding, she listened as footsteps inside drew near.
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