Authors: Taylor Henderson
“He’s going to get us!”
“Run!” screeched Lena as she ran off with her hair billowing out behind her like a red cape.
Laughter caught in my throat as I watched Lilly and Lena run across the back yard with their arms flailing wildly around them. It was adorable how much fun Lilly was having playing hide and seek with Lena, Blake, and me. Her cheeks were red from all of the laughing that she had been doing and her hair had fallen from the loose bun it had been twisted into. Her little hands were covered in pink gloves that matched her pink and black coat perfectly. The hat and scarf that she had been wearing when we first came out to play was lying in a small pile near the tall privacy fence that surrounded my backyard.
The grass shown a bright green, and most of the lawn was covered with newly fallen leaves. The smell of hot dogs wafted over the fence from a few yards down, making my stomach grumble for food. The leaves crunched under my feet as I jogged after Lena and Lilly who were currently looking for a good place to hide where Blake wouldn't find us.
The four of us had started out playing freeze tag, but had eventually moved on to hide and seek due to the fact that Lilly and I kept getting tagged and Lena was tired of unfreezing us. The only problem with our current game choice was that despite the enormous size of my backyard, most of the space was taken up by the pool and the shed so there weren't many good hiding spots left. It's a good thing that Lena was getting creative with new places to hide in, because Lilly was insistent on hiding in the same spot each time.
With a loud huff I came to a stop near where Lena was crouching with her hands pressed flat to the ground and her head held low as she peered under one of the lawn chairs with her face squinted up as if she were focusing on a hard math equation.
“Do you think Lilly can fit under here?” She tilted her head up at me, shielding her eyes from the sun with her perfectly manicured hand.
My eyes shifted to Lilly where she stood stock still with a small smile adorning her delicate features. Just as I was finished sizing her up, Lilly spoke for herself.
“I fitted under there last time I tried. My head got stuck, but that's okay.” She twisted her arms behind her back as she said, “If we smush together real tight then we can all fit, maybe.”
Lena stood up straight, motioning with her hand from Lilly to the chair. “Go ahead, squirt. Forrester and I can hide somewhere else.”
Lilly shrugged her little shoulders before dropping down to the ground. With her stomach flat against the concrete she began sliding into the narrow space beneath the lawn chair.
Trying to gain my attention, Lena gripped onto my arm and pulled me to face her.
“We can hide in the space behind the shed.” When she spoke, the sunlight made the wires in her silver braces shimmer brightly.
In response to her suggestion, I shrugged, realizing that we hadn't hidden there yet. “It's kind of an obvious hiding spot, don't you think?”
“Exactly. It's perfect. Knowing Blake, he'll probably over think it.”
Lilly giggled from under the chair. Glancing down, I smiled at her and stuck the toe of my boot under the chair. I felt her poke my toe and I laughed.
“Lilly, remember you have to be quiet or Blake will hear you.”
My response was met with another chorus of giggles which I took as an answer to my statement before Lena and I trudged over to the shed. Lena squeezed in first and I followed behind her. Once we were hidden behind the shed I heard Blake call out, “Ready or not, here I come!”
I felt Lena poke me in my ribs. “He's coming,” she whispered suggestively.
Although I was unable to turn my head toward her due to the lack of space, I already knew that a smirk would be imprinted on her freckle covered face.
“Be quiet or he'll hear you,” I whispered while gently elbowing her in the side.
As soon as my arm made contact with her, she hissed in pain. “That was my boob, Forrester!” she squealed.
“Well maybe that will teach you to be quiet.”
“Whatever. Thanks to you, my boobs are going to be lopsided now.”
“They already were. I just evened them out a little.” I replied smugly.
I felt her poke me in my ribs again. Although this time the poke was a little more forceful. “We might wear the same bra size now then.”
“Shut up,” I whispered, taking no notice of what she had just said. “I'm going to check and see if Blake's found Lilly yet.”
Slowly, I began inching my way toward the narrow entrance that led to our hiding spot. My back was pressed up against the side of the privacy fence that lined our yard and my face was extremely close to a spider web that was against the back of the shed. Trying to ignore the fact that I was extremely uncomfortable in my current position, and that it felt as if I had a splinter in my butt, I peeked around the edge of the shed.
I quickly scanned the backyard until I spotted a tall figure dressed in faded blue jeans and a short sleeved band shirt for
, a band we liked. My mother had not approved of his clothing choice when he arrived earlier. I rolled my eyes as I remembered the look that had crossed onto her face when she first saw him. After her long lecture about how he was unprepared for the cold weather and should protect himself from the harsh winds, she went to the hall closet and pulled out all of my dad’s winter coats. Despite her attempts at trying to keep Blake warm, he had insisted that he was fine and had politely refused to take any of the coats that she had offered to him. The horrified look on her face as she watched us leave the house was priceless.
The sound of Lilly’s giggling reached my ears, pulling me out of my mental reverie. Blake was slowly walking in a circle around the chair Lilly was hiding under. He was tapping his finger against his chin and although his lips were moving, I wasn’t close enough to hear what he was saying. In one fluent motion he dropped to his knees, slapping his hands against the ground and peering under the lawn chair.
Lilly’s laughter got louder as she began wiggling out of her hiding spot. As Blake helped her off of the ground and hoisted her up onto his back, her little brown pigtails bounced and her smile grew wide. From her position on Blake’s back she held onto his head with one hand and with the other she pointed over toward the shed. Moving my head back so that Blake wouldn’t see me, I slid over and told Lena that not only had Blake found Lily, but that Lilly had told him about our hiding spot.
“That little munchkin! I told her that if she didn’t tell him where we were this time, I would give her a piece of candy,” she grumbled under her breath.
“Let’s just go,” I chuckled. This had been the fifth time that Lilly had told about our hiding place so it wasn’t anything new.
I slid out from behind the shed a few moments before Blake got to us. I watched Lena emerge after me, and laughed as she instantly began swiping at her face. Lilly began laughing and was joined by Blake and I. Lena was jumping up and down as if she had to use the toilet and her hair was whipping around her face in an orange whirlwind that reminded me of the bonfire that I had attended at camp two summers ago.
Her hands smacked at her face repeatedly as she began to screech, “Spider!”
“Lenny!” I shouted, trying to stifle my laughter but failing miserably. “There is no spider! It was only the web!”
Lena stopped freaking out and hesitantly moved her hands from her now red face. Lilly and Blake continued laughing, and when Blake set Lilly back onto her feet they both began reenacting Lena’s freak out.
“It’s not funny!” she harrumphed whilst crossing her arms. “Spiders are gross.”
“It was so funny! You should have seen your face!” Blake countered.
Lilly clutched her little tummy and doubled over in another fit of laughter. “I laugheded so hard!” she managed to screech in between her giggles.
Lena squatted down, pulling her coat tighter around her torso before poking Lilly in the stomach. “I thought we had a deal munchkin. If you didn’t tell Blake where we were hiding, I was going to give you a piece of candy.”
Lilly stopped laughing and a devious smile stretched across her face, making her little red nose crinkle up. “Blake gave me two candies.” Her words were said in a sassy tone, and she had even put emphasis on the word two.
Lena looked up a Blake. “Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater!”
I laughed as Lilly poked Lena in her knee and said, “Only babies say that,” before she turned around and ran to gather up her hat and scarf from where she had discarded them when we had first come out. “I’m cold. I wanna go inside!” she yelled back to us.
Lena and Blake shrugged as I said, “It’s getting dark anyway and I haven’t done my homework yet.”
As we walked back toward the house, Blake draped his arm over my shoulder, pulling me closer to his surprisingly warm body. I snuggled into his side, sighing in content. When Blake kissed the top of my head, Lena feigned a gagging sound which made me laugh.
Ahead of us, Lilly trudged into the house through the back door, leaving it open for the rest of us. As we entered the house, the warm air instantly began to warm my body. The overwhelming aroma of baked chicken and mashed potatoes filled my nostrils. The smell was so powerful that it was almost as if I could taste it. Being the forever hungry guy that he is, Blake pulled me along with him into the kitchen where my mom was stirring a pot on the stove and my dad was looking into the oven. The hairnet that my mom forced him to wear whenever he helped cook was holding back his thinning brown hair, making him look extremely feminine.
“Nice hair net, Dad,” I said nonchalantly with a slight smirk playing on my lips. “If it weren’t for your apron I might have gotten you confused with mom.”
Closing the oven, he turned around, facing me while wiping his hands off on the dark blue apron that he was wearing. I always thought it was funny that my dad and mom wore matching
aprons. My dad’s is a deep blue and has sausage links circling his waist while my mom’s apron is a hot pink and has two frying eggs on the chest of the apron. Blake has always found both of them to be extremely funny, but I just find them perverted and awkward.
“Not a chance, kiddo. I’m nowhere near as beautiful as Rosie is.” Dad smiled flirtatiously and winked at my mom who blushed and continued stirring the pot that was on the stove.
“Oh gosh, Dad. Can you be any cheesier?”
“If I was any cheesier, I’d be macaroni and cheese,” he replied smoothly, giving me a wink. Then, when Lena and Blake had laughed at his horrendous joke, he took a bow. “Thank you, thank you. I’ll be here all week.”
“This really makes me wonder where I got my amazing sense of humor from…”
Blake poked me in the side. “Your grandma’s pretty funny. Remember last year when she came to visit you for Thanksgiving dinner?”
I chuckled at the memory. “You mean when the wind blew her wig off and she chased it around the front yard for half an hour before finally giving up?”
“Nope.” He laughed lightly, before saying, “I’m talking about how she sat on her glasses and then wore them lopsided for the rest of her visit.”
Dad smiled. “That’s how your mother’s going to be when she gets old.”
Mom laughed and tapped the spoon against the side of the pot before setting it down on the ceramic spoon holder that I had made in art class when I was in fourth grade. She lowered the heat on the stove and turned to us with a smile on her classically beautiful face.
“At least I’ll be a hip and trendy grandma. You’ll probably be a lazy old grandpa with a cane and a balding head,” she teased causing Lena to snicker.
Dad laced his fingers through Mom’s and pulled her close to him with a smirk on his face. “Will you still love me the same?”
Mom giggled and her cheeks flushed a brilliant red. “Of course I will.”
When they leaned in to kiss, I made gagging noises while Lena awed. “Oh my gosh! You guys are so cute! I wish my parents were like that!” chirped Lena, with her hand over her heart and doe-eyed expression on her face.
I looked at Lena with my eyebrows furrowed. “Seriously?” When she nodded, I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Let’s trade then.”
Lena shifted her weight from foot to foot, looking uncomfortable. “I wish.”
Blake looked at me curiously as if he wanted me to explain why Lena had said that, but before I was able to respond to his curious look Brianna breezed into the kitchen with her hair gathered up into a high ponytail at the top of her head.
As if she hadn’t noticed the awkward silence that had filled the room merely seconds before she had entered she glanced at everyone before smiling and sending a friendly wave at my parents. Her cheerleading t-shirt was black and decorated all over in different colors of puffy paint, and the athletic shorts she had on were pink and had leopard spots all over them. She was definitely underdressed for the chilly weather that we were experiencing today.
“Hey, Mr. and Mrs. Forrester,” she chirped. “I just wanted to let you know that I’m back from practice.” She fiddled with a sweat band that was around her wrist as she spoke.