fast pitter-patter of children's feet
running across the room.
the shuffling under a tight, metal, bed mattress
that did second duty as a couch.
"are you in?", asked a girl with long straight hair, with eyes that have seen too much for her age.
"i'm in", said a boy with ashy brown hair, eyes as green as the sea.
"now, teach me how to whistle and i'll teach you how to pop your gum."

a creak across the floor, someone else has now entered the home. the footsteps were heard in the kitchen, an extension of the living room. the steps were coming closer.
"sshh", said the sister.
the brother nodded his head and kept as quiet as possible.
but they both couldn't help but scream when the owner of the steps now had his hands wrapped around their ankles and yanked them out from under the bed.
"I hope you were cleaning under the bed", said the man with golden skin, eyes as dark as his voice.
he let go of their ankles and signaled them to the bathroom, the other end of the kitchen.
the two bedroom apartment caged in four kids and three adults. no one knows how they all got there or if they were even related but sister knew that their names are 'sister' and 'brother'; Sis and Bro for short.
they dragged their feet to make the journey much longer than needed. Sis would joke that one leap takes you to the kitchen, two leaps to the living room, three leaps out the window.
"what about the bathroom?", asked Bro.
"Well, when you take the third leap you don't need the bathroom anymore"
Sis was sometimes a bit grim. she was never the same when she came out the room facing east. one of the kids, a pretty girl with round, brown eyes told Bro that the room of knowledge- but not the kind that makes you smarter, but the one that makes you forget what it means to be you.
Bro never really understood but he was happy that was the only thing that changed about Sis.
Pretty Brown, as Bro and Sis called her, is taller than them so they thought she must be older than them, too. She could reach the top of the freezer handle on her tippee-toes and she was mean. She wanted to be like Aussie, the woman who made sure they were fed. Aussie was a strange, sad lady, with curls that laid flat and dry. Her eyes looked empty and she lived in the east room.
"too much time in that room can kill you", said Sis. "no matter what anyone tells you, you don't want to go into that room."
"Are you all done washing in there?!", yelled Golden. The sound of the t.v. and Pretty Brown's laughter were heard.
"why does she get to laugh?", asked Bro.
"because she has to", said Sis. Bro shivered at the sound of the desperate laugh-but this one was not from Pretty Brown.


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