Jan. 29th, 2010

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Prompt 002 – Middles

Being stuck in the middle could really suck, Pas thought with a sigh. Arguments between his brothers and sisters didn't happen often, but when they did they always seemed to drag him into it. Like now, with Bas and Aries alternating between glaring at each other over a torn, muddy and altogether ruined book and demanding Pas support one or the other of them.

It hadn't been entirely anyone's fault. Aries really shouldn't have left his book on the floor, but Bas should have both watched where she was standing and wiped her feet before coming upstairs. “It's no one's fault,” he told his siblings. “Aries, you know this room's too crowded to leave stuff lying around. Bas, you should have been more careful. So you both did it.”

“I guess,” Bas muttered, then sighed. “Sorry Aries...”

“It was my fault too,” Aries admitted. “It's okay.” As his siblings made up – with a hug that looked more like wrestling or perhaps an attempt to strangle each other – Pas headed downstairs to get a bucket of water and some rags so he could clean up Bas' trail of muddy footprints before their parents got home.

He was halfway through the trail in the kitchen when someone tapped his shoulder. Looking up, he saw Robin and Letha watching him. “We help?” Letha asked solemnly. Pas frowned slightly as he thought about that offer. The little twins liked to be involved in most of what the older three did, but there was always an equal chance that their helping would make things worse then before. Like the time they'd tried helping to water the garden and drowned the seedlings.

“It's pretty boring,” Pas warned them. “How about you two go up to your room and pick who you want to sleep with tonight? I'll finish up here then bring you both a cookie and some milk. It's past your bedtime anyway.”

“Aww,” the little twins chorused, but they made their way upstairs without a fuss. Much to Pas' relief. He agreed with his mother's regular mutterings that Letha had to have a Wind sign hidden somewhere. It was the only explanation for how she could scream nearly loud enough to shatter glass.

Finishing up washing the floor and the stairs quickly, Pas dragged the water bucket out to the back of the house and tipped it out. Faint laughter drifted to him on the breeze and his ears pricked up for a second before he hurried back inside. Hastily he filled Robin and Letha's little tin cups with the last of the day's milk and pulled two ginger cookies out of the tin before hurrying upstairs. As he passed by his room, he warned, “Muma and Daddy are nearly home. Better get ready,” before continuing on to his younger siblings. The scraping of beds being pushed together soon followed him down the hall. “Come on you two,” he announced. “Eat quickly and I'll help you get ready. Muma and Daddy will be here soon.” As the little twins gulped down their snack, Pas hastily helped them change into their nightclothes. As soon as they'd finished, he brushed the crumbs off them and helped the giggling duo into their beds. “Shh,” he whispered, listening for the tell-tale squeak of the door opening. “Go to sleep,” Pas added, lighting the little candle on their dresser with a spark. As the twins squeezed their eyes shut tightly – still giggling – Pas fled back down the hall.

“Quick, they're at the gate,” Bas hissed, hurrying away from the bedroom window. Aries was already under the covers as Bas and Pas scrambled into their now giant bed. All three grinned at each other in the dark then closed their eyes as they heard footsteps on the stairs.

Taking hold of Bas' hand under the covers and lightly resting his foot against Aries, Pas smiled. Sometimes being in the middle could suck, but sometimes...

Sometimes it wasn't bad at all.

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Ann Rosa Starr

May 2012

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