I was babysitting this couple’s twins. A boy and a girl, around 4 I think. I forget. The boy was sweet and quiet and had a little tuft of blonde hair near his ear that always sprang up, no matter how you wet it and brushed it and his mom called it a cowlick even though they were from New Jersey or something; some place that didn’t have cows probably. The little girl was a menace though, she was a little taller than the boy and she would always scream and she would never eat the food you gave her; the food her brother ate without protest. The nicer the boy was the meaner the girl was, they worked off each other somehow.
I was babysitting these twins and they were screaming, or she was screaming and he was probably sitting quiet, I don’t know because I was in another room. They have this big fridge, huge, bigger than normal fridges, and it’s got these wooden panels on it sort of, like my daddies wagon used to have, I remember it from the picture more than the car even, the picture my mom gave me, that’s how it is. Anyway, the fridge is fair game, that’s what the man said when he left with her for the movies and dinner. Fair game. Date night he said. And he winked as if to get me in on the joke which made my nostrils flare a bit in a way I couldn’t control.
The screaming stopped at some point because when I finished the pudding I noticed I could hear the water running and I yelled and said don’t leave the tv room but there was water running so they were already out. I put the other puddings down where I could get them and the twins couldn’t and I followed the noise of the water.
The bathroom sink was running and the little girl was standing there washing her hands, scrubbing them and her little fingernails and she was really focused. She was on her tiptoes and she was on her little stool in front of the sink and she was leaning forward and her head was down and I called her name once and then again once louder and she turned to me and it was like looking at a rattlesnake for a second and my stomach turned hard for just a second and I could see how sweaty she was and I said what are you doing and she just turned back to her fingernails that looked pretty clean to me, her hands her pink with the hot water. Where is your brother I said and I messed up because when I said it I think my voice cracked a tiny bit, a little tiny crack but it’s like a glass with a little crack, now the whole thing is broken and you can’t undo it and my voice wavered that little tiny bit and I saw her smirk a little, down into the sink and the rocks got heavier in my stomach and I turned from the bathroom and I felt my back and my armpits and my forehead get sweaty a little and I went to the room I left them in originally when I went to the fridge because I was allowed to and the brother wasn’t there. A few of his toys were there but he wasn’t and the only thing in the room was a little plastic kids table and a couch that was made for adults but I looked behind it and under it and the boy wasn’t there and I started calling out his name a little. The only way I could do that was in an angry voice. I didn’t feel angry I felt scared and sick but I knew the little girl would only smirk more if she hear panic so I was angry when I was saying his name and I went into the twins bedroom.
The twins room was yellow, maybe the couple thought that was the mix between pink and blue but in school I knew that was purple and boys didn’t like purple and anyway it was yellow and there were two beds with bars on the side sort of like cribs even though they were too old I thought for that but maybe the mom needed help keeping them in or apart or from rolling or something, I couldn’t think very well and I was thinking about how long the couple was gone and I was checking under the cribs now and maybe he was just hiding or something.
From there I went from room to room and started at the back and there weren’t many rooms anyway it was a small condo and I knew he wasn’t in the kitchen and finally I went back to the bathroom where I left the girl and she was there but she was sitting on the stool now and she was looking off like she was remembering a dream or trying to remember the answer in class and I was scared and she knew it so I stopped pretending to be tough and I said where is your brother and she said it doesn’t matter and I said yes and it does and she didn’t say anything and I said your parents will be home soon and they’ll need to see him and she looked at me again; snapped out of her memory now and she had the rattlesnake eyes again and she said in her little toddler voice that they couldn’t see him and I started to say something but my throat was caught for a second on the rocks and the needles moving around in my body now and everything felt so tight and I went backwards through the door because I didn’t want to stop looking at her while she was still looking at me.
I went into the kitchen and I put the extra puddings back in the fridge now because it wasn’t fun to eat them anymore and I thought about who to call or what to do next or if I should run and then that seemed like the only option anymore. Where could the boy have gone was too hard a question and an easier way to do it was to not ask that and rather ask if maybe I could just get away but then I heard the sink going again and I sprang up because in my head the boy was there, washing his hands too. Maybe there were cobwebs in his little blonde curl where it caught on some corner I hadn’t seen or knew of and I was almost feeling good until I turned in and saw the sink running without anyone there and I got mad finally for real and I screamed like I had heard in the movies and I rushed to the sink and slammed my hand down on the hot water handle and it turned off and I looked down into the sink and I saw a little pink puddle at the bottom where the drain is and I went to unplug the drain because I thought it was plugged but it wasn’t it was just blocked and I grabbed a few of the little pebbles blocking the drain and right away without bringing my hand back up I let go of the pebbles because I knew what teeth felt like, even baby ones, even baby ones that had the root on them, slimy and almost clean, if they had just soaked a little longer.