Middle Child

Hope, Wendy, and Brigitte stood in a line, waiting for inspection.

The parents arrive, neither smiling, clipboards in hands. The looked Hope’s small figure up and down, taking notes. After a moment, they looked at each other, nodded, and moved on to Wendy. Again, they looked her up and down, looked at each other – frowning – then moved on. Brigitte, the eldest, received the same treatment, though was met with smiles.

“Hope and Brigitte, very well done. You can get in the car,” one of the parents said. The other continued, “Wendy, you stay.”

Wendy received her usual dressing down, and returned to the bathroom to improve herself. She had been ready for this, the usual treatment of being the middle child.