by Farrah Newbold

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    The skiing was cross-country, but our mood was strictly downhill. Then, by accident, our spirits caught a lift.

    I’m 12 and have three younger sisters. They are great people, but there are a few things about them which annoy me.

    I’m Farrah, and I’m the oldest. Then comes Noelle, who’s ten; Laney is eight; and the baby of the family is three-year-old Brooke.

    Brooke is the only one in our family who got a normal name and that makes me jealous. You can’t even guess how many times I’ve heard, “Farrah? Ha! Ha! Ha! Like Farrah Fawcett. Get it?” Every time I make a phone call, people say, “Sara? Serin? Ferin? Oh, Farrah!” Even my mom used to be embarrassed about my name, and she’s the one who named me. She claims Farrah Fawcett wasn’t a big star when I was born, but about two months later “Charlie’s Angels” was a top hit on TV, and I was sunk. When she wanted to call me in the grocery store, she’d yell, “Hey, little girl!”

    Noelle is very tender hearted, but that can be a problem sometimes because she is always getting her feelings hurt. She also sides with my mom, especially when I’m in trouble, which is a lot.

    Laney is kind of stuck on herself. She’s always talking about how cute she looks. She is ungrateful, too. You give her a gift and all she says is, “Oh, I have about 20 of those.” She is also in the “know it all” phase, which is rather frustrating.

    Brooke has learned from her older sisters only too quickly. Her vocabulary consists of, “You’re the ugliest of the world,” “No, you can’t!” “Go away!” or “You’re dumb.” When she’s really mad she spits or hits, and when you fight back, you can guess who gets in trouble. It’s not Brooke.

    But something happened one Saturday when we went cross-country skiing. The atmosphere in the car on our way to the mountains was tense. My dad was yelling at everyone to be quiet, and my mom was telling us to stop bugging her for food because it was only 10:00 A.M. Noelle was being her usual perfect self, cuddling up to Mom and saying, “Those guys are sure awful, huh Mom?” I was giving Laney my worst glare because she told on me just because I pinched her softly.

    Once we arrived, things didn’t get much better. Mom started in on her usual threats. “I just paid 50 bucks for us to have a good time. If I hear one more rude remark, we’re leaving and I mean it!”

    Finally we started skiing in stubborn silence. Dad was tense because he’d never been skiing before and was afraid he might embarrass himself in front of us and everyone else on the trail.

    Suddenly a steep incline loomed before us. I got going too fast, trying to show off for Dad, and practically ran into a tree. In the nick of time I managed to fall, then lay miserably in the snow moaning and complaining loudly. I was sure I’d done something awful to my leg and wanted to make sure everyone knew. As I lay there groaning, I watched Noelle come flying down the hill and take a nose dive just opposite me. Then we both watched in horror as Mom came speeding down the hill shrieking hysterically and heading straight toward Noelle. Luckily Noelle slid out of the way when Mom crashed to the ground just inches from her. Laney had fallen farther back and was now clawing at the snow trying to stop herself from sliding on down the hill.

    Dad, his first time ever on skis, was the only one to survive the treacherous slope. He leaned on his poles at the bottom of the hill, laughing loudly at us and pointing. I think Mom really was hysterical because she couldn’t stop laughing either. We girls sat in the snow whining, then began to giggle. No one bothered to get up, we simply laid in the snow laughing and talking until we calmed down a little. Then we helped each other up and began gliding again.

    The remainder of the day was terrific. Laney, Noelle, and I had a great time together, and everyone was in high spirits. We laughed and talked, and afterwards Mom and Dad took us out for hot chocolate.

    I’ve decided maybe it takes getting away from it all for our family to really have fun together and overlook each other’s minor annoyances. Anyway, at home the next day I went back to thinking my sisters were kind of a bother.

    But I know I won’t ever forget that day in the snow with my family spread all around me looking like a Twister game. And I have to admit there are always those days when Laney shares her candy supply. Or Brooke gives me a big hug and a slobbery kiss and says, “You’re my best friend, Farrah!” Or Noelle consents to play Monopoly even though she knows she’ll lose. Then I’m really happy I have three sisters, even though it’s hard for me to let them know that.

    Illustrated by Jerry Harston