Tacoma, Washington, 2006 — Three heads full of brown waves, black curls, and red sort-of waves poked up from behind the arm of a dark purple couch. Jade green, hickory brown, and amber eyes all trained on one thing:
The great purple cave. Also known as the couch pillows stacked to resemble a cave. Behind them, they could barely see another head full of bushy dark brown hair.
The owner of the jade green eyes, excitement evident on his face, started forward, wooden sword and shield in hand. The owner of the hickory brown eyes pulled him back.
“Are you crazy?” she whispered. “The dragon’s gonna wake up if you go too fast!”
“Yeah, use your inside voice!” Maddie said.
A growl startled them and they ducked behind the couch.
“Who’s out there?” A deep, goofy-sounding voice said. “Well? Show yourselves!”
Junior peeked over the edge of the couch and raised his sword. A stuffed dragon sat outside the cave, its’ head ‘moving’ around by way of a larger hand.
He smirked. “I got you now, you evil dragon!” he said, climbing over the edge of the couch and tapping the dragon’s head with his sword. Zoe and Maddie came around the edge with wooden swords and shields too and joined him in taking down the dragon.
“Ahh! They got me!” The dragon ‘said’ as he dramatically flipped onto his back and promptly ‘died’.
Zoe stuck her hand inside the cave to retrieve plastic jewelry. “Now we gotta give this back to the princess!” She turned around and called, “Lily!”
A three-year-old girl wearing a pink princess costume, complete with the pointed hat that had ribbon trailing from the top, came running into the room. Her hair and eyes matched Junior’s. She took the jewelry Zoe offered her and said, “Tank you!”
“You’re welcome, my lady!” The kids chorused. Junior gave his little sister an elaborate bow. The girls attempted to curtsy but settled for a bow instead.
“Alright,” Henry, Junior and Lily’s father, revealed himself from behind the other end of the couch. “What do you kids want to play next?”
“Um…” The older children glanced at each other and shrugged. Lily was too occupied with scolding the ‘dead’ dragon for stealing her jewelry.
“Can we play astronaut?” Zoe asked. “The treehouse can be the moon! Or Mars!”
“What about cowboys and cowgirls?” Maddie said.
“I wanna play train!” Junior exclaimed. “Maddie can be the train driver this time ’cause me and Zoe already got to be last time!”
“You mean the conductor?” Henry asked. Junior nodded and he and the girls repeated the games they wanted.
“Okay, okay, slow down,” Henry said. His jade green eyes darted to the clock above the fireplace. “We might have time for only one, because Zoe and Maddie have to go home soon.”
The trio let out a collective, “Aw…”
“Sorry, kids,” Henry said. “But hey, whichever one you don’t play today, you can always play next time. Okay?”
“Okay.” Junior turned to Zoe and Maddie. “But we still gotta pick.”
“Rock-paper-scissors for it,” Henry suggested. “And keep it down, because Oliver is still sleeping.”
Right as he finished speaking, the baby monitor over on the computer desk came to life with his youngest child’s cries.
“Or not.” Henry said. “I’ll be right back.” He left, with Lily trailing along behind him.
Junior, Zoe, and Maddie raised their hands and began playing rock-paper-scissors.
©H.S. Kylian 2019
(Critiques are welcome and appreciated!)