My world went quiet when Nick took his naps. Mom insisted that my closet backed up to the nursery, and so I'd always shut my closet doors and let Nick sleep. Mom had made me take naps until I was five. I resented it, especially when I stopped sleeping through them. I remembered reading a board book under my covers until Dad found out and scolded me for it in his vociferous Greek way. Now, though, I was able to take pleasure in the fact that four-year-old Nick still napped, and I didn't have to. I played quietly with my Polly Pockets, and Kida sat next to me, polishing her Samurai sword.
"It must be nice, never having to be quiet," I said.
"I have to be quiet more often than you think I do," Kida said. "You know all the times when the government's trying to hunt me down? I'll hide for days at a time."
I changed one of my Polly Pockets into a short skirt--which, for some reason, was the only thing they could sit down in. "Hiding's fun, especially when you're good at it. I'm better than Nick because he's littler than me, but he can get into smaller spaces. Yesterday, he hid in a cabinet."
"And you hid in your parents' laundry basket," Kida reminded me.
I grinned. I was tall for a nine-year-old, but I was skinny, so I was able to get into tight spaces. Our house didn't have many good hiding places, so we'd use the same ones over and over again. Dad liked to hide in the shower when he played with us. He'd always jump out and scare us when we found him, so I always hated checking behind the shower curtain.
Turning back to my Polly Pockets, I set one in a chair and picked up two more. "Let's go on vacation!" one said. "Yes, let's go!" said another, and I set them both in their little car. I pushed it around the carpeted floor before returning it to the general area I'd been playing in before. "Where's the hotel?"
I looked over at the giant bookshelf against my wall. Books made good buildings; you could stack them to make a room with a roof, or just open them and set them down to make an A-frame tent. A good Polly Pocket hotel required three thin hardcover books--the Henrietta Bix series was a good bet. It was on the top shelf, and even though I was tall for my age, I wasn't quite tall enough to reach it.
I opened my door to ask Mom for help, but it seemed that Nick had woken up from his nap, and he was screaming. Nick screamed a lot. He screamed when he wanted something to eat, or when his shoes didn't fit just right, or when his clothes were 'too tight' even though they were a size too big for him. At the moment, he was probably screaming because he got his shirt twisted around while he was asleep.
I turned back to my bookshelf and took a deep breath. I wasn't stupid enough to climb it like a ladder--I'd seen Home Alone too many times, anyway--so I stood on my bed and reached. One book--two books--three....
My feet slipped on my pink floral comforter. My fingers grabbed at the bookshelf, perhaps a little too well. The whole shelf leaned forward. An avalanche of books pelted me, and suddenly, everything went black.
And then everything became beautiful.
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.