The Sugar Quill
Author: Ara Kane (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Case of the Banished Baby  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Petie Holmstrom didn’t think anything was wrong when his parents brought a new baby home from the hospital

Disclaimer: This story, which features all-original places, events and characters, was written for the Jellybean Society Auction for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Catherine put in the winning bid, so I suppose we could say that this belongs to her :-p

 

Author’s Notes: Deepest thanks to ivy for beta-reading, and to Catherine for allowing me to share this story on the Sugar Quill. This story is dedicated to Tapestry and her darling daughter, both of whom we care about very much.

 

 

THE CASE OF THE BANISHED BABY

 

 

Five-year-old Petie Holmstrom didn’t think anything was wrong when his parents brought the new baby home from the hospital. He had known for a long time that the new baby was coming. In fact, he’d been waiting for it to arrive.

“When is Mummy coming home with the new baby?” he had asked every day since she had gone to the hospital to get it.

“Soon,” Dad always answered.

“What’s taking so long? The lines at the supermarket can be very long, but you never have to sleep there.”

Dad laughed. “Having a baby isn’t like going to the store, little man. We’re talking a whole new person here, someone who’s very small and can’t take care of herself very well yet. It takes a bit longer to bring home a baby than a carton of milk.”

Anyway, after what seemed like a very long time, Dad finally went to the hospital to bring Mummy and the new baby home. Petie was drawing pictures under the watchful eyes of Tansy, the family house-elf, and Norman, the cat, when he heard a key turn in the lock.

He jumped up, scattering brightly-colored crayons everywhere. “They’re here!”

“Little Sir mustn’t run!” Tansy warned as the little boy started for the door, but he ran anyway with Norman on his heels. They dashed across the living room and Petie was standing right by the front door when it opened and his parents came inside.

Mummy came in first. She smiled when she saw Petie. “Hello, darling,” she said, leaning down to kiss him on the forehead.

“Hi, Mummy.” Petie stood on tiptoes to give her a hug. She was much thinner than before she left and she smelled different, sort of like the doctor’s office. “I missed you.”

“I’ve missed you, too. Were you a good boy while I was away? Really?” she asked when he nodded.

“Yes, really,” Dad said as he followed Mummy inside the apartment. He shut the door with his foot and smiled down at Petie. “Hey, little man.”

Petie noticed that Dad was carrying some kind of big basket in one hand. “Is that the new baby?”

“It sure is. Come on, let’s let your mom sit down and then we’ll introduce you.”

Tansy had cleaned up Petie’s mess, so the family moved easily to the couch, where the house-elf was waiting with a cup of tea for Mummy. “Welcome home, Sir and Missy!” she chirped.

“Thank you, Tansy,” Mummy answered. She sat down and took the tea while Dad put the basket-thing next to her. “Petie,” Dad told him, “this is your sister, Crystal.”

The little boy crowded close and peered at the new baby inside the basket. She was very small, and her eyes were closed. There was a little pink hat on her head. “Is she sleeping?” he whispered to his parents.

“Yes, I think so,” Mummy told him.

Norman mewed, and Petie shushed him. “Who does she look like?” he asked in the same soft voice. For a long time, his parents had been wondering which one of them the baby would look like. As far as he could tell, Crystal didn’t look like either of them.

Mummy looked at the baby. “I think she looks like your father. Her hair will be blonde, like his and yours, and already her eyes are blue.”

Tansy looked at the baby, too. “Yes,” she agreed. “Little Missy will look like Sir.”

“Hey, what can I say?” Dad joked with a grin. “I’ve got strong genes.”

“Would you like to give her a kiss?” Mummy asked Petie then.

“OK.” As his parents looked on, the little boy bent down towards his sister. “Hi, Crystal…”

Unfortunately, Crystal chose that very moment to wake up and he suddenly saw stars.

“OW!” Petie stepped back, holding his nose. The baby, surprised by his exclamation, started to cry.

“Oh, dear!” Mummy said. “What happened?”

“She hit me!” Petie accused, pointing at Crystal.

Mummy looked at him and then at the baby, who was crying and kicking and waving her arms, trying to choose which of them to see to first. Finally, Dad said, “You see to the baby, Maeve. I’ll take care of Petie. Where did you get hit?” he asked Petie when the little boy turned to him.

“My nose,” he answered.

Dad gently turned his face one way and then the other. “Well, everything looks OK. Does anything hurt?”

Petie blinked back the tears of surprise that had jumped into his eyes. “No. But I didn’t think she was going to do that.”

“Well, she didn’t do it on purpose. Crystal’s too small to know how to hit. She just moved her arm and you just happened to be in the way.”

He rubbed his nose. “I guess so,” he mumbled.

Dad ruffled his hair. “Hey, come on, little man, shake it off. You’re a tough kid, and besides, your nose is still working, isn’t it?” He grinned when the little boy nodded and gave him a small smile. “Attaboy. Now, let’s see how your sister’s doing.”

“I don’t think she’s doing too good,” Petie remarked. He didn’t have to look at her to know that; Crystal was still crying, and very loudly at that.

Mummy had taken her out of the basket and was now rocking her in her arms, trying to quiet her down. Tansy was hovering nearby with bottles, diapers and other baby things that they might need. And Norman had run away.

“Are you all right, Petie?” Mummy asked. At least that’s what Petie thought she asked; he couldn’t hear her very well over Crystal’s crying.

“Yes, Mummy,” Petie answered.

“Good. Hex, a little help, please?”

Dad nodded. “Go play in your room, OK, little man?” he said to Petie.

“OK,” he answered, but Dad was already helping Mummy with the baby.

 

* * *

 

It seemed to Petie that Crystal hadn’t stopped crying since she got home. She cried all afternoon and all through dinner. She cried whenever someone picked her up, and whenever someone put her down. She probably cried when she was supposed to be sleeping. And she always cried so loudly that Petie could hear her even though she was in his parents’ room and he was in his room across the hall, and both the doors were closed.

Dad had already explained to him that babies were too little to talk, so they cried whenever they needed something and it was up to the mummy or daddy to guess what it was. Given all the crying that Crystal was doing, Petie thought, she sure needed a lot of things.

Norman jumped up onto Petie’s bed. Tansy didn’t like it when the cat did that, but she wasn’t around so Petie didn’t shoo him off.

Norman stretched out over Petie’s tummy. Dad had once told him that Norman used to sleep on his tummy, too, back when he was still going to school. Petie thought going away to school was a nice idea. At least if he were at school, he would be able to get some peace and quiet.

That wasn’t very nice, he scolded himself then. Crystal was only a baby. She didn’t know how to let people know what she wanted. She probably didn’t even know what was going on. Maybe she was crying because she was scared.

Poor Crystal. Petie knew what it was like to be scared.

Maybe she’d cry less when she got used to living with them, he thought as he pulled his stuffed badger over his head. Then they would be able to have fun together, like Mummy and Dad had promised they would when the baby came. He and Crystal would play in the park and build sand castles on the beach…Dad would take them to watch baseball games in Yankee Stadium…Petie would take her for a ride on the toy broomstick he was going to get for his next birthday…

Yeah, that would be nice…

 

* * *

 

Well, it sure was taking Crystal a long time to settle down, Petie thought grumpily during breakfast a few weeks later.

As he ate his cereal, he watched his parents fuss over the baby. She had just finished another crying spell, so now they were trying to make her laugh and take some pictures. “Come on, Crystal, give Daddy a smile,” Dad coaxed, making funny faces at her over the camera.

She just blinked at him.

“Tough crowd.”

Mummy, who was holding Crystal, laughed and kissed the baby. Her long, dark hair fell forward as she bent her head. “I wonder if you were like Crystal as a baby, Hex. Ouch!” she exclaimed when Crystal grabbed her hair.

Dad made a face at her. “Whenever she acts up, you try to pin it on me,” he complained, reaching over to help Mummy get her hair back. “How are you so sure she didn’t get her personality from you?”

Mummy smoothed her hair behind her shoulder. “I’ll have you know that I was a very agreeable baby,” she told him, and smiled at Petie. “Just like Petie was.”

The little boy smiled back, happy to be included. Then Dad knocked over his coffee cup and said a bad word. That made Crystal smile, and then they forgot all about Petie again.

“Little Sir mustn’t scowl like that,” Tansy admonished him as she cleaned up the spill. “If he does it long enough, his face will freeze that way.”

Petie went on scowling. In fact, he scrunched up his face a little bit more for good measure. Maybe Dad would see him and make faces back at him. Maybe Mummy would notice and tell him to stop. But they didn’t, because Crystal started crying again.

He sighed noisily and left the table without finishing his cereal or excusing himself. His parents didn’t see that, either, because they had to go change the baby’s diapers. Tansy went with them, so she didn’t tell him to finish his food or mind his manners. Only Norman saw it, and Norman couldn’t talk.

Petie went to the living room, where he sat on the couch with another loud sigh. The cat followed and curled up in his lap. Petie stroked Norman’s fur. At least not everyone had forgotten about him, the little boy thought, but he still missed Mummy and Dad.

His eye fell on the pictures on the table next to the couch. Lots of them were of Mummy and Dad and him, but now he saw that there was a new one with Crystal in it.

In the picture, Mummy was lying in a bed with a sleeping Crystal in her arms and Dad sitting beside her, leaning close to them. It was a magic picture, so Mummy and Dad sometimes smiled at each other, kissed, or smiled down at the baby, who squirmed in her sleep.

Next to it was another picture a lot like that one, but with Petie in it. The picture was magic, too, but he thought that Crystal’s picture was nicer. He thought that Mummy looked prettier in her picture. In his picture, she and Dad were smiling, but they both looked very tired. Sometimes Mummy would yawn, or blink the way Petie himself did when he was sleepy.

Petie thought that his parents looked much happier in Crystal’s picture. They were happier about having her than having him.

 

* * *

 

After his discovery, Petie began to dislike his sister even more. He wished it were just him and Mummy and Dad again. He wondered if the hospital could take Crystal back. Maybe they could give him another baby instead, one who was nicer and didn’t cry so much. Or, even better, maybe the hospital could give him a cat so both he and Norman could have someone new to play with.

He didn’t think Mummy and Dad would like that, though. They loved Crystal. Petie couldn’t understand why. All she did was drink and wet and sleep and cry. And she didn’t behave when she was having her picture taken.

His bad mood improved somewhat when he learned that Grandpa Tiny and Grandma Maggie were coming to visit. Grandpa Tiny and Grandma Maggie were the coolest. And maybe, with all the adults around, someone would pay attention to him.

 

* * *

 

It was Tansy’s day off when Grandpa Tiny and Grandma Maggie arrived. Mummy said she was going to pick them up at the airport, while Dad was going to stay home to do some work and watch Petie and Crystal. “I want you to be good, all right?” Mummy said to Petie as she checked her purse.

“I’m always good, Mummy,” he answered.

She laughed, and Petie was pleased. He liked making Mummy laugh because it sounded so nice. “Oh, yes, of course you are. How silly of me to forget. Then you must make sure your father behaves himself.”

“I heard that!” Dad said as he came out of the room that he called his “workshop”.

Mummy laughed at him, but instead of getting mad, he kissed her. She then kissed Crystal, who was in her little baby seat on the couch, and Petie. “Be good, all of you,” she told them before leaving the apartment.

After Mummy left, Dad said that Petie had to change his clothes so he would look good when Grandpa and Grandma arrived. “But I like what I’m wearing,” Petie protested, looking down at his favorite T-shirt with the badger on the front. His Uncle Peter had sent it to him. Besides Mummy and Dad and Grandpa Tiny and Grandma Maggie, Uncle Peter was the coolest.

“I know that’s your favorite T-shirt, little man,” Dad said, “but your mom asked me to make sure you changed clothes while she was away. And she asked you to be good, remember?”

“Yes, I remember,” Petie said grudgingly. Then he looked at Crystal, who was kicking her legs in her baby seat. “But what about Crystal? Shouldn’t she change clothes, too?”

Dad shrugged. “Nah. She’s a baby. It doesn’t really matter yet whether she’s dressed nice or not.”

Just then, Crystal started crying. Dad carried her into his and Mummy’s room to change her diapers. Petie helped and tried to calm the baby down by talking to her and making funny faces at her, but it didn’t work. Crystal didn’t stop crying.

Then Dad decided to change her clothes, too. That didn’t make her stop crying, either.

Dad brought out a bottle of water for her to drink, but then the phone rang. “Keep an eye on Crystal, will you, little man?” he asked Petie as he went to answer it.

“OK, Dad,” Petie answered just before Dad closed the door, leaving him and his crying sister alone.

He edged closer to the baby seat. Wouldn’t it be nice surprise for Dad if he made Crystal stop crying? “Don’t cry, Crystal,” he said to her.

Of course, she didn’t listen.

Petie thought about picking her up and carrying her around the way his parents sometimes did to get her to stop crying, but they didn’t let him do that yet. He tried talking to her again, played her some music, waved toys at her and shook a rattle over her head, but none of those things worked. He tried to get her to drink some water, but she refused and just went on crying.

Finally, with his ears ringing and his blood boiling, Petie lost his patience. “STOP IT!” he yelled at her. “GO AWAY!”

Suddenly, the crying stopped. He thought he had finally gotten Crystal to quiet down, but when he took a look at the baby seat, he found that she was gone.

She had disappeared!

“Uh-oh…” Petie said in a small voice. Babies weren’t supposed to go anywhere. They were too small to get around by themselves, and no one had carried her out of the room. Where did she go?

Maybe he had yelled so loud that she tumbled right out of her baby seat. Petie dug around in the blankets and pillows on the bed, and then looked all around the bed and even under it, but couldn’t find Crystal.

He looked in the closet and in all the drawers. She wasn’t there.

He even looked inside Dad’s shoes. She wasn’t there.

Dad came back into the room just as Petie started in on Mummy’s shoes. “Hey, what are you doing there, little man?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

Petie dropped a shoe with a clatter and stood up. “Uh…nothing.”

He watched nervously as Dad took a look around the room and found that Crystal’s baby seat was empty. “Where’d you put the baby, Petie?”

“N–Nowhere,” the little boy answered. That was true, he thought. He didn’t put her anywhere.

“Well, she couldn’t have gotten up and walked off by herself.”

“I didn’t touch her, Dad. You said I couldn’t pick her up yet.”

“So she just…disappeared?”

Dad was starting to sound worried. Petie’s heart began to pound. “Well…I guess I sort of told her to…go away,” he finally admitted.

“Oh, no,” Dad groaned. Then he straightened and gave Petie the look that Petie usually got whenever he was caught messing with the things in Dad’s workshop. “We’ll discuss this later, young man.”

Petie gulped. He got The Look and was called “young man” — he was in real big trouble.

 

* * *

 

Dad made Petie sit on the couch while he went all over the apartment looking for Crystal. He looked inside all the rooms, even inside the refrigerator and the garbage. He looked out the windows at the street below and then walked around the hallway outside, trying to hear whether the baby was inside one of the other apartments.

She wasn’t.

Dad made Norman stand guard over Petie and tried the other floors of their building, too. “When you made her go away, did you have any idea of where you wanted her to go?” he asked when he came back, still without Crystal.

Petie shook his head miserably, his hands clenched together in his lap. “I just…I just told her to go away.”

Dad muttered a bad word. “She could be anywhere.”

“Anywhere?”

Anywhere. Anywhere in the city, in the country, even anywhere in the world, and she’s too small to take care of herself. Anything could happen to her.”

Then Dad took out his wand and tried all sorts of spells to get Crystal back. He tried to Summon her, to find out where she was, even to make her cry so he could try to follow the sound of her voice, but nothing worked. “They ought to invent some kind of GPS Charm that parents can put on kids,” he complained, “or at least a general ‘Undo’ spell.”

Finally, because he had no more choice, Dad picked up the phone and dialed 3-1-1 to report that they had a magical emergency.

The apartment was filled with police-wizards and magi-medics when Mummy came home with Petie’s grandparents. “Hey, are you having a party?” Grandpa Tiny asked.

“You were the only guests we were expecting today,” Mummy answered him, peering at all the people milling around the living room. “What is going on? Why are there so many people here?”

One of the police-wizards spoke up. “We are from the Magical Emergencies Response Team, ma’am. Please stay out in the hallway; this is a restricted area.”

This is my home,” Mummy answered back, walking past with Grandpa Tiny and Grandma Maggie. “Hex? What is going on here?”

Dad came forward with a big fake smile on his face. “Maeve!” he greeted Mummy. “You’re back quickly. Guess there wasn’t much traffic. Nice to see you again, Tiny, Maggie. How was Scotland?”

“Cold,” Grandma Maggie told him. “Now, where are the children?”

Dad nodded at the couch, where Petie still sat with Norman. “Petie’s right over there. Say hi to Grandma and Grandpa, little man.”

“Hi, Grandma and Grandpa,” Petie said obediently.

“Hey there, Petie.” Grandpa Tiny reached down to ruffle his hair. He patted Norman, too. “Where’s your baby sister?”

“And what is the M.E.R.T. doing here?” Mummy asked Dad.

Dad glanced at Petie. “Well, uh, the answers to those two questions are sort of mixed together,” he began.

Mummy looked at Dad, then at all the other people in the apartment, and her eyes widened. All the color disappeared from her face. “What happened?” she asked, her voice shaking. “Is Crystal hurt?”

“No! No, she’s not hurt,” Dad said quickly. “At least, I don’t think she’s hurt. I’m really not sure — she sort of…disappeared.”

“Disappeared?” Mummy made a weird noise and pressed a fist to her mouth. “Oh, no. Oh, my poor baby.”

Grandma Maggie held Mummy’s arm and led her gently to the couch. “I think you need to sit down, dear. I’ll go make some tea.”

Mummy sank down next to Petie as Grandma Maggie went off to the kitchen. She looked shocked and awfully scared. (Unfortunately for Petie, he was going to remember that look on her face for the rest of his life.) “Have you tried to get her back?” she asked in a small voice. Norman climbed into her lap to make her feel better, but she didn’t notice.

“Of course,” Dad told her. “I searched the whole building, even outside. I tried every spell I knew to find her.”

“And now these people are on the case,” Grandpa Tiny added, nodding at the M.E.R.T.

“Yeah, they’re working on it,” Dad said. He sat down next to Mummy and gave her a hug. “It’ll be OK, Maeve. They’ll get Crystal back.”

Then Mummy asked the question Petie was hoping she wouldn’t ask. “How did this happen?”

Dad looked at Petie again. “It was an accident. Some magic went wrong.”

“Magic?” Mummy raised her head off Dad’s chest to look up at him. “You were doing magic on the baby?”

“No, Mummy.” The words burst out of Petie before Dad could say anything. “I did it. I told her to go away. And she did.” He quailed when his parents and Grandpa Tiny all looked at him, but he knew he had to keep talking. “I’m sorry I did it, Mummy. I tried to get her back. I looked for her everywhere but I couldn’t find her.”

Mummy was quiet for a moment. Then, finally, she said, “Petie, please go to your room.”

She didn’t shout at him. Petie wished she had. It would have been better if she had sounded mad instead of hurt and tired and sad like she did right now, but he was glad for the chance to get out of everyone’s way. “Yes, Mummy.”

Grandpa Tiny and Norman walked Petie to his room. Just before Petie went inside, his grandpa knelt down and gave him a hug. “It’ll be all right, son,” he said. “Once they find her and your parents have the chance to cool down, everything will be OK.”

Petie didn’t know how Grandpa Tiny would know that since he didn’t know how to do any magic, so he just nodded. “OK, Grandpa.”

Norman followed Petie into his room and both boy and cat sat on the bed. Petie placed his hands in his lap and stared at the magical pictures on his wall, wondering where Crystal was.

Dad had said that she could be anywhere. Anywhere in the city, in the country, even anywhere in the world, and she’s too small to take care of herself. Anything could happen to her.

The thought made Petie feel terrible. He’d gotten lost before and remembered what it was like to feel as though he were alone in the world. It was a scary, lonely feeling. Everything seemed so strange and big and dangerous. Was Crystal scared and lonely, too? Was she hungry? Maybe she was in danger!

Tears welled up in Petie’s eyes when he thought about his baby sister being alone and scared and in danger. She was a pain, but he didn’t want those bad things to happen to her. “I’m sorry, Crystal,” he sniffled, wiping his nose on his arm. Beside him, Norman mewed in sympathy. “I’m sorry I made you go away. Please come back. Please.

Suddenly, there was a loud, familiar bawling. Both Petie and Norman jumped. When he turned around, he saw the squirming, squalling baby right in the middle of the bed. “Crystal!” Petie cried.

He burst out of his room and into the hallway. “DAD! MUMMY!” he shouted, loud enough to be heard over Crystal’s screaming and Norman’s meowing. “CRYSTAL’S BACK! SHE’S IN MY ROOM!”

Petie was so happy that the baby was back that he didn’t even mind that she had wet his bed.

 

* * *

 

After the M.E.R.T. made sure that Crystal was OK and the sheets were changed on Petie’s bed, things became a bit quieter in the apartment. Grandpa Tiny was right, Petie’s parents were too happy to have Crystal back that they weren’t too mad at him. They let him come out of his room to visit with Grandma and Grandpa, but he couldn’t get his presents from Scotland until tomorrow. Petie thought that was fair.

That night, after Petie had said good night to Grandma and Grandpa, Mummy and Daddy came to his room to tuck him in. “She’s not crying,” Petie noted when he saw that Dad was carrying Crystal.

“She’s saving it for later,” Dad told him with a chuckle.

Mummy drew the covers over Petie and his stuffed badger. “You both had quite a day today,” she said. She didn’t sound hurt or sad anymore.

Petie nodded as Norman padded over to flop over his feet. “I’m sorry about what happened,” he said. “I just got so mad because Crystal wouldn’t stop crying.”

“Was that the only reason you wanted her to go away?” Dad asked.

The little boy turned red. “And…and I guess I sort of wished I was the only kid around here again,” he admitted, picking at his badger’s black-button eye. “Now that she’s around, everyone’s forgotten about me.”

“Aw, come on, little man,” Dad said. “We’ve already told you that she’s still too small to take care of herself, right?”

“As Crystal’s mummy and daddy, we’re the ones who have to take special care of her,” Mummy added.

“You’re my mummy and daddy, too,” Petie pointed out.

Mummy nodded. “Yes, we are, and we took special care of you, too, when you were a baby and too small to take care of yourself. Now that you’re bigger, we don’t have to do so many things for you anymore.”

“And besides that, we’ve become Crystal’s mom and dad, too,” Dad went on. “The two of you are going to have to share us from now on. And we’re going to have to learn how to be a mom and dad to two kids now instead of just one, right, Maeve?”

“That’s right,” Mummy agreed, smiling at Dad. “I’m sorry you feel as though we’ve forgotten you, darling,” she said to Petie. “We certainly didn’t want that to happen, but things have changed for all of us. Like you, your father and I are also learning to get used to these changes.”

“From now on,” Dad added, “your mom and I are going to try harder to make sure that we’re taking care of both you and Crystal. But we’re new at this, so we might make mistakes sometimes, all right?”

“And if we do,” Mummy said, giving Petie a hug, “remember that we love you very much, as much as we did before Crystal came along. All right?”

“All right,” Petie answered with a smile.

Dad smiled, too. “Feel better?”

Petie nodded. “Yes.” He was feeling much better than he had in a long time.

Dad looked him straight in the eye. “No more Banishing the baby to goodness-knows-where when we’ve got company coming?”

Petie blushed, embarrassed again. “No. I’m sorry I did that,” he said. “I know it isn’t nice to want someone to go away, but I was just so mad and the words just sort of…came out. Besides, I didn’t think I could really make her go away.”

“Well, you did, little man; and you know what that means?”

“No.”

“It means your powers are starting to come out, darling,” Mummy told him, smiling. “That was your first sign of magic.”

Petie’s eyes widened. “It was, wasn’t it?”

“Yep,” Dad said, reaching over to ruffle Petie’s hair with his free hand. “My little man’s going to be a wizard, and from the looks of things, he’s going to be a pretty powerful one.”

“Really?” the little boy asked.

“Yes, really,” Mummy told him. “After all, you made Crystal disappear, didn’t you?”

“He also brought her back,” Dad reminded her.

Mummy laughed. “Yes, thanks be, he also brought her back.”

“Wow.” Petie fell back against his pillows, his eyes still wide with surprise. Suddenly, he felt very big inside. “Wow,” he said again.

“’Wow’ is right,” Dad said, grinning at Petie. “You’re really something, little man. I think we’ve got two very special kids; don’t you, Maeve?”

“Yes, we do,” Mummy agreed, smiling at Petie, too. “And I believe it is time to finally say good night to this one.” Both she and Dad leaned over to kiss Petie’s cheeks. “Good night, darling.”

“Good night, Mummy and Daddy,” Petie answered, and then decided to say good night to his baby sister, too. “Good night, Crystal.” Moving quickly, he bent to plant a cautious kiss on his sister’s forehead.

The baby in Dad’s arms squirmed at the kiss. She blinked sleepily a few times and something that looked a lot like a smile flickered over her face before she opened her mouth to start crying again.

 

THE END

//
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