Excerpt for Sophie's Promise by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Sophie’s Promise

When Sophie’s parents told her their wonderful news, she had mixed feelings. In seven months, she would become a big sister. Sophie was seven years old and thought that it might be fun to have a baby brother or sister to play with. But, she was also upset because she would have to share everything with the new baby; her toys, her house and especially her parents. Sophie had been an only child for seven years, and she liked having all of the attention focused on her. She didn’t want to share her parents with a baby.

While Sophie tried to act happy about the new baby, she began to resent him or her, because of all the changes that were being made. Almost every conversation in the house was about the new baby. Sophie’s mother spent less time with her because she was sick a lot, and because she was busy making plans and buying new things for the baby. Then, Sophie found out that she would have to share her bedroom with the baby, until her parents could build another room onto the house.

As the due date grew closer, Sophie’s parents became more excited, and Sophie became more upset. When it was finally time for the baby to arrive, Sophie was dropped off at her grandparents’ house before her parents headed to the hospital.

The next morning, while Sophie was eating breakfast, the telephone rang. Sophie ran to answer it. It was her father, and he told Sophie that she had a baby brother named Robert Joseph Clark Jr. Sophie tried to sound happy and she told her father that she missed him. But, in his excitement over the new baby, he didn’t tell Sophie that he missed her.

After Sophie’s grandfather took the phone, he began talking to his son. Sophie listened to the conversation and could tell that her grandfather was just as excited as her father. What really upset Sophie, was a single sentence that her grandfather said; “Well, Rob, you finally got the son that you always wanted.” In Sophie’s young mind, that meant that her parents had never wanted a daughter, just a son. Sophie ran into the bathroom and began to cry.

When she had finished crying, Sophie wiped her eyes and walked out of the bathroom. Her grandmother asked her if she was okay. Sophie lied and said she was just so happy about her new baby brother.

Later that morning, Sophie’s grandparents took her to the hospital to see her baby brother. When Sophie walked into her mother’s room, she saw her mother holding the baby. She and Sophie’s father were so engrossed with the baby, that it took a moment for them to notice Sophie. Megan asked her daughter if she would like to her hold her new brother. Sophie was about to say no, when her father took her to a chair and after she was sitting down, he placed the baby in her arms. Sophie didn’t want to hold the baby, but she didn’t have any choice in the matter. Sophie whispered something to the baby, that her parents and grandparents couldn’t hear, and then she quickly handed the baby back to her father.

Sophie thought that her parents would get tired of having a crying baby, and then would spend more time with her, however, the more she saw her parents talk to her brother, and play with him, the more Sophie thought that she had been replaced.

Sophie’s mother had to stay at the hospital for another day, and Sophie went home with her father. That afternoon and evening, Sophie tried to get her father to play a game with her, but he spent most of his time texting back and forth with her mother, and posting about the new baby on Facebook. This caused Sophie to resent the new baby even more and she began thinking bad thoughts about her brother.

The next morning, Rob received a call from the hospital. Sophie could tell that her father was upset when he hung up the phone. When she asked him what was wrong, he told her that her brother was very sick and that he had to go to the hospital. Rob dropped Sophie off at her grandparent’s house before heading to the hospital.

Later, when her father called from the hospital, Sophie could tell that her grandparents were just as upset as her father. They told Sophie that her brother was very sick and had to have an operation right away. Sophie became scared. She thought that she was responsible for her brother being sick. She thought back to the previous day, when she whispered those words to her brother; “I hate you. I wish you were dead.” Later that same night, she had prayed that her brother would die. Now she was sorry. She could see how sad and upset her parents and grandparents were. Sophie began praying to God to make her brother better. She told God that she was sorry for what she said, and told God that she wanted her brother to live.

The next day, Little Robby was in surgery for several hours. After the surgery was over, Robby remained very sick. Sophie’s dad told Sophie that her brother might go to Heaven. Sophie could tell that her father had been crying. She had never seen him cry before. That night, Sophie began praying harder. She asked God to make Robby better. Then, she got an idea. She told God that if he let Robby live, he could take her to Heaven instead. She asked to trade places with her baby brother, since her parents had always wanted a boy anyway.

The next morning, when Sophie woke up, her grandmother told her that her brother was much better and would be home in a few days. Sophie was very happy for her brother, but she also began to wonder when God would take her to Heaven. Sophie wrote a letter to her brother and wrapped it up in newspaper along with her most prized possession, a teddy bear named Charley. She placed the bundle in Robby’s crib.

If Sophie’s parents hadn’t been so preoccupied, worrying about Robby, they might have noticed that Sophie was being extraordinarily obedient and quiet.

The next morning, before she left for school, Sophie told her father; “I hope that you don’t forget me when I’m gone.”

Her dad laughed and told Sophie that he could never forget her. Mr. Clark thought that his daughter was talking about remembering her while she was in school.

Over the next several days, Sophie’s teacher, Miss Douglas became concerned about Sophie, because of the things she observed and things that she heard. She felt concerned enough to set up a meeting with Sophie’s parents, so she called Mrs. Clark and asked to meet with her that afternoon.

Later that day, Megan brought her baby boy home from the hospital. When she went to lay him in his crib, she found the present that Sophie had given him. When she unwrapped the gift, she found the teddy bear and the letter. Megan was confused. She was wondering why Sophie was telling her brother she was sorry and why she was telling him goodbye.

Later that afternoon, Megan bundled Robby up and drove to the school to pick up Sophie and to meet with Miss Douglas. She asked Sophie to wait outside the classroom while she talked with her teacher.

Miss Douglas told Megan that she was worried about Sophie. “She has been extremely quiet and withdrawn for the past few days. She seems scared about something,” said Miss Douglas. “Is she having any problems a home?”

“She’s probably been worried about her baby brother,” said Megan. “He had to have open heart surgery. We almost lost him.”

“That might explain her outburst on the playground today,” said Miss Douglas.

“What outburst?” asked Megan.

Another teacher and I had to break up a fight on the playground at lunchtime,” said Miss Douglas. “Sophie was sitting on top of a fourth grade boy, much bigger than her and she was punching him in the face. He was crying and had a bloody nose when we pulled her off of him. It turns out that the boy had been picking on some of the first grade boys for quite a while and Sophie told us that she was just standing up for them, because nobody would do anything. The boy’s mother won’t file a complaint. She told us that her son got what he deserved, and promised us that he would not be a bully anymore.”

“I’m so sorry,” said Megan. “I will have a talk with Sophie when we get home.”

“There’s something else that I wanted to ask you,” said Miss Douglas. Are you planning on moving soon?”

“No,” said Meagan, “why?”

“Then, is your family going on vacation soon?” asked Miss Douglas.

“No,” said Megan. “What is this all about?”

“Our class will be putting on a play next month,” said Miss Douglas,” and when I asked Sophie what part she would like to audition for, she told me that she wouldn’t be here for the play because she was going away any day now.”

“I don’t know what’s gotten into her” said Meagan, “but, I’ll talk to her when we get home and straighten it all out.”

Meagan took Robby and Sophie out to the car. On the way home, Megan told Sophie that they needed to talk when they got home.

“Am I in trouble?” asked Sophie.

“I don’t know yet,” said Meagan. “Miss Douglas told me about the fight that you were in today. I’m very disappointed with you.”

“He’s just a big bully,” said Sophie. “He is always picking on the little kids on the playground. I told him to stop, but he just laughed. So, I hit him and I just kept hitting him. He made me so mad.”

When they arrived home, and went into the house. Meagan put Robby in his crib and she and Sophie sat down on the couch in the living room. “Why did you tell Miss Douglas that we were going away soon?” asked Meagan.

“I didn’t tell her that we were going away,” said Sophie. “I told her that I was going away.”

“And just where are you going?” asked Meagan.

“To Heaven,” said Sophie.

“Why do you thing that you are going to Heaven, soon?” asked Meagan.

“Because I made a promise to God,” said Sophie. “I told God that if he would let Robby live, then he could take me to Heaven instead. God let Robby live, so now, I have to keep my promise.”

“Oh, Sophie,” said Meagan, “you are not going to go to Heaven. You are going to stay here with us.”

“But, I have to go,” said Sophie, who had begun to cry. “You don’t understand. It was all my fault.”

“What was your fault?” asked Meagan.

“It was my fault that Robby almost died,” said Sophie. “I did it.”

“What do you mean?” asked Meagan.

“In the hospital that day,” said Sophie, “I told Robby that I hated him and I wished he was dead. I whispered it to him so that you wouldn’t hear me. And then, I kept wishing and praying for him to die.”

“Why would you wish that?” asked Meagan, her voice sounding a little angry.

“So that you and Dad would love me again,” said Sophie.

Meagan was becoming very worried. “Why would you think that we don’t love you anymore?” she asked.

“Because for the past few months, the only thing you and Dad talked about was the baby,” said Sophie, “and I heard Grandpa tell Dad that you finally got the son you always wanted. I’m sorry that I wasn’t the son that you always wanted.” Then, Sophie burst into tears and ran into the bathroom and locked the door.

Meagan began to realize that they hadn’t spent much time with Sophie and that they had been obsessed with the new baby. Sophie refused to come out of the bathroom.

When Rob arrived home ten minutes later, Meagan told him about Sophie. After talking to Sophie for a few minutes, Rob finally got her to unlock the door. Rob wrapped his arms around Sophie and told her that they were so sorry for not spending more time with her. He kept reassuring her that they loved her as much as Robby and they always would.

Sophie calmed down a little, but still insisted that she had to keep her promise to God, and go to Heaven. Meagan and Rob tried to convince Sophie that she was not responsible for Robby getting sick, but she refused to believe them. Meagan made a phone call, and later that evening, Pastor David from their church arrived at the house to talk with Sophie.

Pastor David and Sophie sat down on the couch. Pastor David explained to Sophie that because she was willing to give up her life to save her brother, that God realized how much she loved her brother and that he wanted her to stay on Earth to help take care of Robby and keep him safe.

Sophie smiled and ran into her bedroom, where Robby was in his crib. “Guess what, Robby?” she said, “God said that I can stay. I promise that I will be a good big sister. And I do love you Robby.”

From that day forward, Sophie protected Robby from bullies and helped to take care of him, as he grew older. As for Meagan and Rob, they made sure that they never played favorites, and loved their children exactly the same.

The End

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