Hattie ran into the lounge and jumped onto her mother's lap.
"Mama, Mama. Let's play a game."
"Not now, Hattie. Wait till I'm more awake"
Hattie slid off and turned away from her mother, heading for the door. A wail from her baby sisters sent her running off to their bedroom. Lissa and Fern were lying in their identical cots with knitted blankets around them. A small teddy bear was tucked in beside each of them. Hattie liked to call Lissa's 'Pip' and Fern's 'Sadie'. She often sat with Lissa and Fern and entertained them by acting out stories between Pip and Sadie and the twins.
One of Hattie's favourite fantasies was when Pip learnt how to fly and took her and the twins to the seaside where they had a wonderful time. Hattie imagined that they spent a whole morning on the beach; building sandcastles, paddling in the salty sea water and playing football. In the afternoon they all went on the pier and played games before watching a man play tricks and entertain lots of other children like them.
Unfortunately this was only a wishful fantasy. Hattie had to be satisfied with the occasional supermarket shop and going out in their tiny garden. Lissa and Fern were barely old enough to realise what Hattie was telling them and their mother was pregnant again.
* * *
"Hattie! Where are you?" her mother screamed. "Hattie!"
"Coming Mama!" Hattie shouted from where she had been playing with Lissa and Fern in the garden. Hattie raced into the house to find her mother sprawled on the lounge floor with the telephone in her right hand and a glass of water in the other.
"Hattie," she gasped, "Ring the hospital please. I think the baby might be on its way."
Hattie immediately rang the hospital and made sure someone was on their way. She remembered what it had been like last year, when she was three, and the twins had been born. After the ambulance had been and gone Hattie's father appeared.
"Hello darling! How are you? And how are my matching angels?" He lent over Lissa and Fern, kissing them gently before picking Hattie up and spinning her round above his head.
"Papa, is Mama going to be gone all night?" Hattie asked.
"Yes, most probably. Why?"
"Can I come and sleep with you?"
"Of course!" Hattie smiled with delight. She loved her father and hated him being away, which he often was since his job involved a lot of travelling. The next morning the telephone began to ring at ten past nine. Hattie rushed to the phone and answered it, having done so many times when her mother wanted to avoid answering.
"Hello?" Hattie questioned.
"Hello. Could I speak to Mr Joey Princeton please?"
"Certainly. Wait a moment." Hattie took the phone and made her way to her parents' bedroom where she handed the phone to her father.
"Hello?" he said.
"Hello. Is this Joey Princeton?"
"Your wife has begun heavy labour. If you would be able to come to the hospital as soon as possible it would be much appreciated."
"I'll try my best. Thank you. Goodbye."
"Goodbye." Joey began to ready Lissa and Fern for the car journey and Hattie went to her room and fetched a colouring book and Pip to entertain her sisters. Then they were ready.
* * *
By the time Hattie was allowed into the room where her mother was, there was there a tiny baby wrapped in a shawl lying across her mother's breast and her father was sitting beside her mother, talking softly.
"Mama, is this the baby?"
"Yes. He's gorgeous. We've decided to call him William Daniel."
Her father stood up and went round to Hattie. "Your little brother William. Do you like him?"
"Yeah. He's quite cute."