The curtain opened on the morning after Layla's birthday with a spectacular cast of slate grey skies, drought-killed grass and cracked pavement. Stale smoke from a burnt-out campfire drifted from the backyard of the house at the end of the block. Wet ashes still sat beside a blue plastic swimming pool, the water's silent surface peppered with half-deflated balloons. In the basement bedroom, seven girls in pajamas and varying states of wakefulness sprawled across pillows and camping mats strewn over the cement floor. Around them were scattered board games and cards from Uno and Dutch Blitz, the loose playing cards occasionally scattering due to a sleepy exhale. 80's movies on VHS were strewn around the room, the player and television in the corner still on. One girl was using a box set of Star Wars as a pillow.
Slow, unsteady footsteps made their way down the blue-painted plywood stairs. There was a louder thud, followed by the sound of water sloshing over the side of the bucket.
“SHHH! Shhh! You'll wake them up!” One voice whispered.
“Sorry!” A sandy head, belonging to a nine year old boy, poked around the corner. “But they won't wake up!”
“You can't be too careful.” A different boy, this one older and taller, but with the same blond hair, dropped down the stairs and around the corner, avoiding his brother. “Come on!” He held a finger to his lips and headed towards the door. The younger boy followed, walking slowly, weighted down as he was by the two ice cream buckets of water that both he and his brother were carrying. A close look outside would prove the pool to be slightly depleted.
The older boy pulled the door open, lifting it on it's hinges to keep it from squealing against the floor. The two stood framed in the doorway, observing the slumber party aftermath crafted by their sister and her friends. They shared a conspiratorial glance.
“On three?” The younger brother asked, preparing to hurl the bucket of pool-scummy water towards the pile of sleeping girls. The older brother nodded and grinned.
Grace Ruth lives in northern BC, Canada and enjoys playing hockey, snowboarding and writing
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