"I hope I get a hamster!" Alexa squealed. It was late at night, around ten o'clock, the night before Easter. The nine-year-old girl had been dying for a hamster ever since her elder sister had adopted one.

Rachael rolled her eyes at her sibling. "You're not going to get a hamster, stupid," she scolded discouragingly. "I paid for my hamster. Thirty bucks. Plus, it's not like it's your birthday. It's only Easter."

"Yeah," their eldest sister, Paige, pitched in. "Sorry to break it to you, Alexa, but when Rachael and I were . . . well, only a few years younger than you, we got Sailor Moon dolls. Like, two each. Alex, a hamster's a lot bigger than that."

Rachael nodded and laughed at her sisters. She thought her siblings were the nerdiest losers ever. How could she possibly be related to them? But she loved her family underneath all her feigned hatred.

The youngest of the three heard her sister's cackle and jumped on top of her, tackling her to the ground. She banged her fists on her sister's back, but the cackling only grew louder.

Sighing, Paige crawled into bed. The "biggest" sister had already advised the other two to stop fighting; they were only guests at their grandfather's house for a couple of nights during spring break. By this point, though, she'd given up on the other two.

One last try couldn't hurt, though. "Guys, come on! Be quiet! Get in bed. go to sleep. Alexa, you'll get your hamster quicker if you go to sleep now," Paige yelled over the ruckus.

Surprisingly, this worked, and Alexa (who was now subject to Rachael's hits) struggled to make her way to the makeshift bed on the floor. "Get off me!" she yelled into Rachael's ear, sending her sister tumbling backward from the noise.

All three girls were soon in bed. Paige turned over on her side to face Rachael, who was on another twin bed across the room. She winked at her thirteen-year-old sister, who winked back. They both knew what Alexa had in store for her the next morning, but neither said anything. And while Rachael remained pessimistic and discouraging through the whole situation, Paige stayed hopeful. She didn't want her baby sister's heart broken.

0O0O0O0

"WAKE UP!" Rachael whispered loudly and obnoxiously into Paige's ear. "Get up! It's EASTER!"

Groaning, Paige rolled over. "You could've let me sleep," she scolded. "What time is it?"

A giggle emerged from the floor, where Alexa laid. "Three!" she called. "And I bet my hamster's waiting downstairs for me! What should I name him?"

"Uh, I dunno--Hampton? Butterscotch?" Paige asked grouchily. "Who cares?"

The middle girl sat up on her bed and turned the television's volume up. "We can watch, like, The Little Mermaid television series while we wait," she suggested.

"Rachael!" Paige whispered harshly. "It's three in the morning. We can't go down until at least six!"

Nodding, Rachael answered, "I know. But you know, at least we won't sleep in."

The three settled into their beds, the younger two giggling and watching television, and the oldest trying not to be entertained. Why three o'clock? Why not five or something later? And why did they have to wake her up? Paige was definitely not a morning person, and her sisters knew it.

0O0O0O0

At about five thirty, the youngest grew more restless than ever. She was jumping up and down, giggling as though she had already eaten a basketfull of Easter candy. Alexa hadn't had anything to eat, though, since the cheese pizza she ate for dinner after she arrived in Bethlehem.

"I'm going down!" she declared suddenly, standing and marching across the guest bedroom.

Paige and Rachael exchanged worried looks. "Um, Alexa, I think you should stay up here," Paige tried to convince her sister. Unfortunately, Paige was terrible at convincing people of things.

"I wanna see my hamster!" Alexa retorted, turning around suddenly.

Rachael tried this time. "Alexa, come on! Stay up here!" She got out of bed and seized her sister's arms. Paige grabbed her legs, and together, they carried their little forty-five-pound sister over to a bed and deposited her on top.

"I wanna see my hamster!" Alexa cried mournfully. "He's gonna be so cute! I'm gonna name him--"

At that moment, their mother peeked her head in through the door leading to the bathroom. "Are you guys awake already?" she asked calmly, a little surprised.

Smiling guiltily, Rachael responded, "Yeah. We've been up since three!"

"Can we go down yet?" Alexa asked eagerly.

Their mother shook her head. "Guys, I checked down there. The bunny's not been here yet!"

Alexa sighed and plopped down on the bed.

"I'm sure that you can come on down at about six or something," their mom assured them. "It shouldn't take him too long." She left through the bathroom door, and the sisters could her her making her way down the stairs carefully.

"I wanna go down now!" Alexa cried unhappily, banging her tiny fists on the floor.

"Sssh!" Paige said. She never liked loud noises. "You'll see your hamster in about twenty minutes."

"I'm going now," the littlest one declared, marching toward the door rapidly.

"Nuh-no!" Rachael yelled, prancing up and grabbing her sister by the waist. Paige helped, and together, they managed to lay her on a bed. "You can't go down yet! Get your butt back in bed, you tard."

"Rachael," Paige said quietly, "that word is politically incorrect. For one thing, the proper terminology is retardant, and for another, you should only use that term, retardant, with people who are mentally disabled!"

"Shut your piehole," Rachael said nastily as she held Alexa down.

Paige shrugged. "It's rude, too."

"Your face is rude. I have to look at it every day!" Rachael exclaimed rudely.

"I wouldn't talk if I were you. . ."

For the next twenty minutes, Alexa struggled against her sisters. Finally, it was six o'clock. Paige and Rachael released the little girl, and Alexa rocketed downstairs.

"Ooh, I got cool Starbursts!" Alexa declared once her sisters had made their way groggily down half a floor. She popped one into her mouth, chewed on it for a second, made a face, and then spit it out again. "Eew, these taste foreign."

"But did you get a hamster?" Paige asked eagerly, ignoring her own candy.

"I dunno!" Alexa raced around the house like a dragster. After a few minutes, she ran out of energy and enthusiasm. She arrived back in the dining room, dishwater blond hair all over her face. "No hamster," she said, sounding depressed.

"Over there in the corner!" Rachael shouted. "There's a hamster cage!" She snickered though, and Alexa soon caught the lie. "Just kidding. Gosh, you're slow."

"Shut your mouth, stupid," Paige scolded. She would have told Rachael to shut up, but her sisters both would have tattled on her. "Alexa," she turned to her favorite sibling, "hey, we're gonna see Tara later today. It's not that bad. I know you wanted a hamster a lot, but it's not the world. I mean, I'm like 14 and I've wanted a kitten since I was about ten. I never got a kitten! I'm alive."

Rachael cackled. "Maybe you haven't gotten a kitten because of all your other pets. Let's see--" she was interrupted by Alexa.

"Sea monkeys!" Alexa giggled, joining in the taunting.

Rachael frowned. "No, it was a salamander first, who died, and then there was, well, the frogs were next--"

"Tadpoles," Paige corrected firmly. "And they drowned. I didn't kill them, or my salamander!"

"Oh, that's right; Mommy accidentally dropped T.R. the tadpole down the drain, and the other one drowned!" Alexa cried.

Glaring at her sister, Paige responded, "Since when did my tadpole get dumped down the garbage disposal? I always heard that her organs exploded out of her!"

"Oops."

Clearly, Rachael was having too much fun. "Then there were the sea monkeys!" she yelled.

"I never actually murdered any of my pets!" the eldest cried out. "They all died! Don't blame me!"

"Your point was . . . what?" Rachael said slowly, realizing her sister was right.

Paige sighed. "Um. You stink. And also that hamsters are a lot of work, Alexa. I mean, look at Rachael. She's pretty worn-out and ugly from taking care of Piccolo. . . And I could add on to that, but she's gonna beat me up."

Rachael had already sprung from her seat. She glared at Paige and then threw a punch at her sister's upper arm. "If there's anyone that stinks, it's gotta be you."

Alexa laughed and munched on a Peep. Her sister was right. This was Bethlehem. She'd have a great holiday, anyway. It was Easter, and the Lord had risen. That wasn't at all why she was somewhat happy, though. She was happy because she'd still have time to beg her mother to buy her that hamster. ;-)