As the sounds of her aching sobs cascaded down from the stairs, he suddenly realized why he had been so short with her, and why he was always so less patient with her than he was with her siblings. She was the oldest, the first child, the one whose arrival made him a father, a person far different than he had been in his younger years, which he now looked upon jealously. He regretted losing the freedom he imagined himself enjoying in those years (although truth be told he was at times far more lonely and anxious then than he ever was now), and he was disappointed with himself for squandering his youthful opportunities. It was upon Rachel, the first child, the one whose arrival so clearly marked the boundary between his former and current life, that he projected his disappointment.


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