This story takes place in June 1999.

Meredith the Unituplet
A Carlson Septuplets Story

Summer was always an extremely busy time in the Carlson household. Last summer, in 1998, they had gone to Japan in June and then to North Carolina in August. Both of those were family trips. This summer was shaping up to be just as busy, but instead of going places as a family, everyone seemed to be going somewhere different, with friends or groups or other such things.

School had just ended about a week and a half earlier, but the Septuplets' mass exodus was already beginning. Megan had been invited to spend a week with her best friend Angela's family, at their cottage up North. She left on Monday morning.

Mary was also off on a one-week trip, and she left the same day. Her friend Cassandra, who had moved to Scranton, PA a couple years earlier, had arrived with her family in Michigan just after school ended so they could visit their Michiganian friends, but now Mary was going back to Pennsylvania with them for a week.

On Tuesday, it was Michelle's turn to leave. She was going to a sports training camp that the Westfield High School varsity basketball coach had recommended she attend if she wanted to be the team captain in the fall.

Monica and Molly left on Wednesday. Ruby Sanders, Molly's best friend, had invited Molly (and any other Septuplet who was interested) to come with her family on a service project to build houses. Molly went because Ruby was her best friend, and Monica decided to tag along in the hopes of getting all her National Honor Society Credits done before the school year even started. They would be back next Tuesday.

That left Meredith and Melissa as the only kids remaining in the spookily empty Carlson house on Thursday. Melissa didn't stick around for too long, either; her friend Louise soon arrived to pick her up and head off to the mall. Mr. Carlson was at work, as Mrs. Carlson usually would be, but she had been sick lately. In fact, she had been feeling so awful that she wasn't sure if she could go to her sister's wedding, which would be held in St. Paul, Minnesota on Saturday. St. Paul was a 12 hour drive from Westfield, and Mrs. Carlson didn't know if she would feel better in time to make the drive, but on Thursday, she finally decided that she was feeling well enough. After all, it was her sister's wedding! She had been debating about going all week, and when she finally decided the day before they had to leave, she called Mr. Carlson at work and informed him of her decision. He didn't mind at all; he had been expecting that they would go. Then she informed her one daughter who remained in the house.

"Meredith, I think we will be going to Minnesota after all," she said. "Is that okay with you?"

"Well...yeah, it's okay, if you're feeling better."

"It's your Aunt Elysia's wedding, I guess I'm feeling well enough to go to something like that!"

"But what about everyone else?"

"You mean your sisters? Well, everyone's getting back on Monday or Tuesday. We'll be back Sunday night. So they'll be okay. Looks like it'll just be you and Melissa!"

Or, rather, it looked that way until Melissa was informed of the plan.

"What?!?! We ARE going after all? You sure took long enough to decide!" Melissa said when she heard the news. "I do NOT want to spend twelve hours in a car on Friday and then again on Sunday!"

Mrs. Carlson sighed. "Well, what do you want to do then?" Asking to stay home alone was not a good idea: though the Septuplets were 16 years old, none of them had their drivers' licenses yet (though Melissa did have her permit; she was the first to get one) and would be stuck at home, unable even to go to the store if they needed to — that and the fact that Mrs. Carlson had never forgotten Monica's kidnapping when the Septs were two years old. Regardless of their being older now, the Septuplets' mother still worried about leaving her daughters home alone overnight, especially now that there would only be one or two of them there.

"Hold on. I'll call Louise." Melissa picked up the phone, punched in the number, and waited a few moments. "Hi, Louise? It's me. My parents just informed me that they're going to Minnesota tomorrow...yeah, can you believe it? I know, it's that short notice? Well, anyway, do you think I could stay there for a couple days? Like until...hold on a sec. Mom, when did you say you were getting back?"

"Melissa, maybe I should talk to her parents."


Another sigh. "Sunday night."

"Sunday night, she says. Hmmm? Okay. Yeah, that would be great!! Okay, I'll see you tomorrow morning! Bye!" She hung up. "Well, it's all settled, Louise says I can stay over there!"

"Are you sure her parents are okay with this?"

"She asked them and they said it was okay! Geez, Mom, what do you think? They're not doing anything special, you know the Martins!"

Mrs. Carlson did know the Martins, and she knew they probably wouldn't have any problem with Melissa spending the weekend there. Still, she called them back to confirm this after Melissa had left the room. Meredith was sitting at the table by the phone when her mom was done talking to Louise's parents. "Well kiddo, looks like it's just you, your dad, and me!"

"Really? That'll be so weird...we've never gone on a trip like this without having everyone come along!"

"I know, and I wish your sisters could all come, but this is just how it turned out. So go pack your bag, okay?"

Meredith went to pack a small suitcase, just enough for two nights, and a bag of things to do on the long car ride. As she packed, she thought about what this little weekend trip would be like. Wow, I'm gonna be like an only child! Maybe now people will just pay attention to me and not care that I'm a Septuplet. Not that I've ever had any problems with that...but it will be so strange! I wonder what it will be like meeting Aunt Elysia's new husband's family, as just me, Meredith, not "One of the Septs!" I can hardly imagine it...I've never done anything like this before!

"Meredith!" Her dad's voice echoed from the kitchen, which was just a few rooms away. Meredith's room was next to Molly's, both of which were at the back of the main floor.


"Pack your swim suit! Apparently your aunt booked us at the Radisson in downtown St. Paul. They have a pool there!"

"Cool!" She pulled her swimsuit out of the closet, rolled it up in a beach towel, and shoved it into her suitcase.


The next morning, they got up at seven o'clock, hoping to get on the road by eight. Louise dragged herself out of bed, much too early for her summer sleeping standards, and was there to pick up Melissa at seven forty-five. Then Meredith and her mom and dad hit the road.

"Wow, this car feels so big and spacious...are you sure we shouldn't have just taken the little car? Wouldn't it have been more fuel efficient?"

"That's good thinking from an ecological standpoint, but would you have liked to ride in that little back seat for twelve hours, with all the stuff we're bringing?" Mrs. Carlson said.

"Hmmm...I see your point," Meredith said, thinking of their little car. The Sept Van had much more space. It seemed about three times as roomy after seeing it filled with six other sisters. Taking advantage of all the room, Meredith piled up all the stuff she had brought to do in the car on what would have been Mary's seat, then folded up the pillows and blankets that were normally squashed under her feet and put them on Monica's seat behind her.

"This is great...there's so much room! And I even get to pick the radio station with no fighting!"

"Well, I don't know, there was something I wanted to listen to...."

"Daddy! Come on, can't I pick something now? We've been listening to your public radio stuff since we left."

"That was only half an hour ago!"

"Well, give me a chance to listen to something for half an hour, then!" Her dad finally consented and Meredith got to pick her own station, and had thirty whole minutes to listen without anyone else complaining about the music! Wow!

Everything was going just fine as they drove across Michigan, and then into Indiana. Meredith listened to the radio for a while, then read a book she had brought. She read for a long time, and when she finally put the book away, they were near Chicago.

"Oh, wow, we're in Chicago! Look, you can see the Sears Tower! Remember when we were there before when we were seven and Mary got stuck in the revolving door and ever since then she hasn't liked going through those things?"

"Yes, dear," Mrs. Carlson said absentmindedly. "I'm sorry, I can't really listen to you right now, I have to help your dad navigate through this mess." The expressways were extremely crowded and the Carlsons didn't know the Chicago expressways that well, so they weren't sure which way they were supposed to go.

"Oh, okay...." Meredith took the hint and stopped talking. She enjoyed seeing Lake Michigan and looking at all the skyscrapers of this rather unfamiliar city. At least this part of the drive was interesting. Eventually, they passed the city and soon enough they were even out of the suburbs. There was just the road, and the grass, and an occasional small town or rest stop.

Meredith tried to draw a little bit in a sketchbook she had brought, but it was too hard to draw steadily in the moving car. So she decided that she would like to play a video game, like she sometimes did on long car rides. But wait...Mary had taken the portable Sega with her to Pennsylvania. Well, that option was out. Just then she saw a license plate from Arizona. "Hey, anyone want to play the license plate game?" Whoever found the license plate that was from the farthest place won; this was a traditional game on long drives with the Carlsons.

"Sure, honey," Mrs. Carlson said.

"What about Dad?" Meredith asked.

"If I see any interesting plates, I'll let you know," he said.

"Your dad's concentrating on driving right now, but I'll tell you if I see any good ones, too," Mrs. Carlson offered.

"Okay." Meredith watched the license plates of all the cars that passed her window. After a while a plate from Saskatchewan, Canada passed by. Meredith waited to see if either of her parents noticed. Neither said anything.

"Hey! You didn't even notice that plate from Saskatchewan! Neither of you are really paying attention, are you?"

"I'm sorry, dear, I guess I just didn't see it," Mrs. Carlson apologized. Meredith shrugged. Well, what did she expect? Her parents never played the license plate game. And Molly wasn't even here for the argument that always went along with this game, over whether the plate had to be the farthest from Michigan or farthest from where they were at the time of the game. They always argued over who won because of that discrepancy in the rules.

Meredith flopped back into her chair and stared out the window, feeling very bored. "How much longer??"

"Well, we're almost to the Wisconsin state's about five or six hours driving through Wisconsin, and St. Paul is right there once you get into Minnesota, so probably six more hours...."

Meredith sighed. "Joy...."

For the next several hours, she thought about what her sisters and her friends must be doing. Her best friends, Hannah and Millie Roscher, were also on a vacation, so she couldn't have stayed with a friend as Melissa had done. Besides, Aunt Elysia would have been pretty disappointed if not one of the Septs wanted to come to her wedding. Everyone seemed to be on vacation right now. Well, at least that meant that someone else must have had to sit through a long car ride, so she wouldn't be the only one.

The hours passed slowly as they drove across Wisconsin. The car that had first struck her as so spacious now seemed so quiet! Her parents were immersed in driving and reading books, and Meredith had no one to talk to. By the time they finally reached Minnesota, she was nearly out of her mind with boredom.

"Look!" Meredith pointed to a large sign on the side of the expressway, just as they crossed over a large river. "Minnesota Welcomes You! Finally!!! Now where's the hotel?"

"Elysia booked us at the Radisson...couldn't she have found something cheaper?!" Mrs. Carlson was a bit hesitant about staying at a relatively fancy hotel. The Carlsons always stayed in cheap, budget hotels, where they always got two rooms.

"Well, we're only going to be there for two nights, and for once we'll only need one room," Mrs. Carlson pointed out. "Strange, isn't it, Meredith?"

"Yeah, it is," Meredith agreed. She definitely wasn't used to being an only child!

When they reached St. Paul, the hotel was fairly easy to was a tall building that said "RADISSON" in large letters on its roof. "This must be the place," Mr. Carlson said, and he drove the van into the parking garage adjacent to the hotel.

The Carlsons checked in and got the keys to their room, which just happened to be on the nineteenth floor. Mary's favorite number...she would have been thrilled, Meredith thought as they rode the elevator up to their room.

The room they stayed in had a scenic view of downtown St. Paul and the Mississippi River. Meredith dropped her suitcase onto the bed closest to the window. "Wow, I get this whole bed to myself! No more getting shoved out of bed in the middle of the night!" That was also a tradition on Carlson family vacations, particularly if you shared a bed with Molly or Michelle. "So what are we doing this evening?" It was a quarter to nine by the time they had eaten dinner at a local Italian restaurant — too late to do anything much, but still too early to go to bed.

"You could go swimming," Mr. Carlson suggested.

"Okay," Meredith said. This would be fun! They never stayed at hotels with pools; budget hotels didn't often have them. She changed into her swimsuit and then headed down to the pool. Her parents came too, but they just sat by the side of the pool.

The swimming pool was on the first floor of the hotel. When you came out of the elevator, you immediately turned towards the west and there it was. The capacity of the pool was only 34, and it only went from three to five feet in depth. There was a hot tub, but Meredith didn't care for them. They made her feel dizzy really quickly. Melissa and Megan would have loved the hot tub, though! A group of cousins, all of whom were much younger than Meredith, played happily in the shallow end of the pool. Meredith swam back and forth a few times, did a few cannonballs, and floated around the pool. She watched the group of cousins. They were playing tag and having races underwater. That gave Meredith an idea: she decided to see how fast she could swim underwater. She filled her lungs with as much air as they could hold, and then dove into the water, swimming as fast as she could. When she simply couldn't hold her breath, she surfaced a few feet away from the other end of the pool. It wasn't exactly the most thrilling thing she had ever done. It was no fun when you were only racing against yourself! She watched the cousins having fun racing each other and having breath-holding contests. This only child routine wasn't as easy as it sounded.

Meredith climbed out of the pool. "I'm ready to go upstairs now," she told her parents.

"So soon? You only swam for about forty minutes," Mrs. Carlson said.

"Well...yeah," she said, glancing at the group of cousins who were still splashing around happily. "It wasn't very much fun all by myself."

"I'm going to tell your sisters you said that!" Mr. Carlson said with a grin. With that, the three of them headed back to the nineteenth floor and got ready for bed. One thing that was very nice about being an only child was that she wouldn't be kicked out of bed, or forced to sleep on the floor in the first place!


The next day was Aunt Elysia's wedding. Instead of having a reception afterward, because it was just a very small and simple wedding, there was a gathering beforehand. It was at the home of the groom's brother. The Carlsons didn't know the groom's family at all, they only knew Matt, the groom. They managed to find their way through the unfamiliar Twin Cities suburb thanks to Elysia's very precise directions. When they arrived at the home where the gathering was being held, Elysia was waiting on the front porch, so they'd recognize someone there.

"Robin! Peter! Meredith! You made it!"

"Elysia!" Mrs. Carlson greeted her sister. "How are you? Feeling nervous?"

"Not right now, I will be later, though. I'm just so glad you guys could come, this means so much to me! Hey, why don't you come in and I'll introduce you to Matt's family." Elysia led them into the house and took them to meet a cluster of people standing by the doorway.

"Guys, I'd like you to meet my sister Robin, her husband Peter, and my niece Meredith." There were greetings from everyone standing around there. Then Meredith noticed something one seemed to care about her! It wasn't that she wanted to be the center of attention, it's just that she was so used to it — or at least sharing the spotlight with her sisters — that it was a strange feeling when they just said, "Nice to meet you, Meredith! How was the car ride up here? Long? Well, glad you could come!" and then went on talking to someone else. No one said, "Wow, Meredith Carlson? As in Carlson Septuplet?! That is sooooo cool! So, what's it like being a Septuplet?" There was a little empty feeling inside of her, but she tried to ignore it. After all, she'd have her chance to be a famous Septuplet again soon enough. This was a gathering for Elysia and Matt; they were the ones that should get the spotlight. Even with the boring car ride and the lack of anyone to play with at the pool, maybe it was a good thing that her sisters hadn't come along. And now she had a chance to just be Meredith, known for something beside her Septuplet status.

A girl who looked maybe a couple years younger than Meredith approached her. "Hey, I like your shirt," the girl said. Meredith was wearing a navy blue T-shirt with a picture of Sailor Moon on the front. It was a very casual gathering. "Do you watch Sailor Moon?"

"Oh, I love Sailor Moon!!" Wow! Already someone had asked her something about herself, about what she thought and what she liked, and not just about what it was like to be a Septuplet. This was so weird! "I watch Sailor Moon all the time!"

"Really? Me too! I'm a total Moonie! I don't know too many other people who are, so it's neat to finally meet someone else who likes it. What's your name?"

"Meredith Carlson." She waited for a reaction.

There wasn't one. "Hi, Meredith, my name's Pearl. So who's your favorite Sailor?"

"Sailor Pluto, but I also really like Sailor ChibiChibi."

"Huh? Who's that?" Pearl gave her a funny look.

"Oh! You must not follow the Japanese version! I follow it on-line. It's so much better than the English dub."

"Really?? Hey, we have the Internet right here, but I don't use it much. Do you think you could show me how to find some cool Sailor Moon stuff? I never thought of doing that before. I'm kind of computer illiterate."


"Great! Come back here, we can get on the computer—" Pearl stopped mid-sentence when she saw that there was already a crowd around the computer.

"Hey guys, this is Meredith. She was just going to show me something on the computer...can we see it for a minute?"

"Not right now, Pearl."

"Awww, come on, guys, it'll just take a minute!"

"We're kind of busy right now. You can use it later."

"But I'm not going to be here later...."

As if that was a cue, a middle-aged lady with obviously dyed reddish-brown hair peeked into the computer room. "There you are, Pearl. We've got to get moving. Go get in the car, would you?"

Pearl sighed. "Oh, too bad, Meredith. Maybe you can show me some other time. Do you live around here?"

"No, I live in Detroit...."

"Oh, well, I guess I won't be seeing you too much after the wedding. Well, at least I'll see you tomorrow!" Pearl waved and ran out the back door.

Meredith wondered why Pearl had left in such a hurry. Well, maybe she could find other people to talk to. If she could meet one person that easily, she could meet someone else, right?

So she wandered around the house for a little while. She found some pieces of watermelon and some lemon pastry squares, and she took a few of those. Then she wandered around some more. She found a vacant chair in the corner of a room where some people were talking, but she didn't know any of them. It was a very large house; she wondered where in it her parents and Aunt Elysia were. Well, maybe if she just sat there, someone else would come and talk to her. So she sat. And sat. And sat some more. She looked around and saw everyone talking and having a good time, but there she sat, alone. She started wondering again what her sisters were doing. Probably having a good time, not just sitting in a house full of people she didn't know. Hardly anyone from Elysia's side of the family was here.

That's when she started feeling really lonely. Whenever she went anywhere, she always had someone to talk to...when she went somewhere with friends, there was obviously someone, but when she had to go with her family, well, there were always people her age to talk to at family gatherings, too. This loneliness was something she wasn't used to. Here she was in the Twin Cities, and she didn't even have a twin, much less septuplet ironic!

She watched the minute hand on a nearby clock so closely that she could see it move. How much longer until they left? Wouldn't anyone come and talk to her? Didn't anyone care about her? This was such a strange feeling for Meredith; was this how unituplets felt? After all, they never had people gravitate to them just to ask "what's it like?" questions.

Just then, a boy who looked about twelve and a college-age-looking man approached Meredith. They were two of the people who had been using the computer before.

" were the one who wanted the computer, right? If you want it, you can use it now."

"No, thanks. It was really Pearl who wanted it."

"Oh. Hey, I don't think we know you. You're from Elysia's side of the family, aren't you?"


"How are you related?"

"I'm her niece. My mom's her sister."

"Oh, so you must be Colin's cousin!"

"Colin Nole? Is he here?"

"Yeah, he's here least, I think he is; he was earlier, anyway. You're a lot younger than him, though. In our family all the cousins are really close in age. Are you the youngest cousin, or are there younger ones?"

"No, I'm not the youngest. Colin has two older sisters, too. They're the oldest, his oldest sister is just turning thirty this year. And we've got cousins who are a lot younger, too."

"Really? Well, I guess that's not too uncommon, but it didn't work out in this family. So, if Colin's got sisters who aren't here, how about you? Or are you an only child?"

"No, I've got sisters too. They're back in Michigan." Uh-oh. This conversation was getting too close to certain information. Should she tell if they asked? She tried to divert the conversation. "What about you, how are you related?"

"Well, I'm Matt's youngest brother David, and this is my other brother's son, Zachary. You were with Pearl, right? Well, Pearl is my other brother's step-daughter and Zachary's step-sister."

"Oh." Meredith was not very good at keeping track of other people's families. It was confusing to remember what each person's name was, and who was related to who. While she tried to commit this to memory, this gave Zachary and David a chance to ask the question Meredith was hoping they would forget: "What about your sisters? Older, younger, or what?"


"Well, don't you know?" Zachary demanded in the style of a slightly rude twelve-year-old.

With that, Meredith made up her mind to get back on safe territory. She had been lonely and bored, and now she was being put on the spot in a conversation where she could not keep track of who was related to who. And most importantly, she was sick of being an only child and hiding who she was. Being noticed by Pearl was nice, but if all anyone else wanted to talk about was family, she certainly had a family to talk about!

"Yes, I know how old my sisters are. They're all the same age as me."

"Huh? So what are you, a triplet or something?"

"Yeah, or something," Meredith said, laughing. "I have six sisters and we're all the same age."

Zachary and David glanced at each other, then back at Meredith. "Really. How many sisters do you have?" David asked.

"I told you, six!"

"And how old are they?"

"We're all sixteen."

"Come on, that would make you the sextuplets or something, and I didn't hear anything about any sextuplets being brought into our family—"

"Septuplets, actually."

"Yeah, whatever," Zachary said, obviously not believing this girl. "Hey, I'm just going to get some more lemon squares, so I'll see you later, uhh...what was your name again?"

"Meredith Carlson."

"Right. One of the famous Carlson Septuplets." He said this with a tone of obvious disbelief, and went off to find the desserts.

Well, this had not gone the way she had expected! They didn't believe her! How could they not believe her? Why would she lie about something like that??? Not being believed made her forget all the good things about posing as an only child. Now she only remembered being lonely, being bored, being ignored by everyone except Pearl, and most importantly, two near-strangers implying that she was a liar! Oh, where were her sisters when she needed them?

Meredith decided that the only thing to do here was find more munchies, so she headed off to look for some (besides the lemon squares, because she didn't want to confront David and Zachary again if they thought she was a liar). She found another room where more snacks were set out. Among the people clustered around stuffing their faces was her cousin Colin.

"Hi Colin!"




"Guess again."


Meredith laughed. "There is no Margaret! I'm Meredith!"

"Right, Meredith. I knew that. I was just kidding." Of course he was lying through his teeth and Meredith knew it, but she didn't mind at all; this was one of Colin's old jokes. "So where's the rest of the bunch?"

"Oh, all over the place. They all went off on various trips, so I was the only one who could come to the wedding." Colin proceeded to ask how everyone was, and just as they were discussing what Paige and Virginia had been doing lately, Zachary and David reappeared. Meredith noticed them and hoped that they wouldn't come talk to her about her "lie," but unfortunately, they spotted her and headed right over.

"So Colin, this is your cousin?" David asked.

"Yeah, you already met her?"

"Yep." Then both David and Zachary sort of hesitated, without wanting to say anything.

Finally, Zachary managed to say what was on his mind. "Uh...about that septuplet thing...well...are you really? One of the Septuplets, I mean?"

"Yes! Why would I lie about that? Colin, tell them! They don't believe me!"

Colin laughed. "She is, guys. This girl is one of the famous Carlson Septuplets!"

"Really?" David looked astonished, but at least he seemed to believe it this time. "That's really neat. I'm sorry we gave you a hard time before. It's just that, well, you know, we thought someone would have told us if the Carlson Septuplets were suddenly going to become part of our family, no matter how distantly related!"

"Yeah, you would have thought someone would tell us to expect to meet someone famous like that!" Zachary added.

"I understand. But I think I know why they didn't," Meredith observed. "First of all, my mom didn't decide that we were coming until just a day before we came! She wasn't feeling well. And second, I guess no one who knew wanted to overshadow Elysia and Matt at their own wedding."

"That's a good point," David agreed.

"Well, where's the rest of you?" Zachary asked.

"Everyone else went off on all sorts of trips. What, you think we do everything together all the time?"

"Well, how should I know? You are a family, aren't you?"

"Yeah, usually! But I guess I get to be the only child this weekend, and you know what? It's so weird — hey, it's the first time that anyone thought I was lying about being a Septuplet!"


The wedding was later that evening. The ceremony was beautiful and everyone, of course, focused their attention on the bride and groom. But word had spread quickly that a Carlson Septuplet was among the guests, and once people found out who it was, Meredith got quite a bit of attention, too.

"Wow, you're really one of the Carlson Septs? Wow, listen to that, Lissy, the Carlson Septuplets are part of our family now!"

"So Meredith, what is it really like to be a Septuplet?"

"How do you like having six sisters your same age who all look like you?"

Well, this was almost like what she was used to, except normally there were six more people to help answer all the questions! Meredith sighed. Being an only child had its good points and its bad points. Being a Septuplet had its good points and its bad points. But being an only child AND a Septuplet at the same time was not an easy task!


After the wedding, Meredith and her parents returned to the hotel to try and catch at least seven hours of sleep before getting up at seven for the second twelve hour drive in three days. And Meredith couldn't wait to get home. Pretty soon everyone would be back together and things would be normal again!

The second day after the last of her sisters arrived home, the entire Carlson family was invited to another family gathering. This time it was only in another Detroit suburb, though, so fortunately no long car rides were required! All of Mrs. Carlson's cousins were visiting at the Septs' great-aunt's house. Some had flown in from as far as Colorado, and they hadn't seen the Septuplets in years.

"Oh, look, the Septuplets are here!" said one of them when the Carlsons arrived.

"My goodness, look at how big they've gotten! But you still can't tell them apart!"

"Okay, girls, which one of you is which?"

The Septuplets introduced themselves one by one.

Then one of the people from Colorado, who happened to be an Avs fan, noticed the 1998 Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings T-shirt that Mary was wearing.

"So, you're a Wings fan, eh? Guess we beat you guys pretty good in the playoffs this year!"

"Yeah, well, who's got more Stanley Cups, huh? One for the Avs, NINE for the Wings! And that includes two in a row in the 1990s!"

The other Septs decided to go hang out in the front yard while Mary explained the Red Wings' superiority to the Colorado fan.

"Geez, I wish that people would learn to tell us apart," Molly commented. "It gets so annoying having to name ourselves off for people all the time."

"Well, you can't blame them, Molly, they haven't seen us in years," Michelle pointed out.

"I know, but sometimes I wish I was an only child. No offense meant to any of you guys, of course. If I have to be a Sept, I'd pick all of you for my sisters...but sometimes I think it would be a lot easier to be the only one!"

"I don't know about that," Meredith observed. "If there was only one of us, who would we be talking to right now? A bunch of grown-ups reminiscing about when they were our age? At least we're never lonely at these things!"

"But we're never noticed for who we really are," Molly complained.

"Oh, I disagree!" Meredith said. "What about Mary, in there arguing with that Avs fan? Here's some advice for you: next time we go to something like this, just be sure to wear a T-shirt with a picture of something you like on it. It's a great way to get noticed, even if you're a Septuplet!"

Everyone laughed.

"Meredith the Unituplet" © 1999 by Jessie Mannisto.