When Abby Hayes joined her family in the living room, they were all in front of the blank television screen, while Alex, her seven-year-old brother, fiddled with the remote.
"Can you figure it out, Alex?" Eva demanded. Fresh from
basketball practice, she paced up and down the living room, still
in shorts and a jersey with the number one emblazoned on the back.
Alex ignored her. Although he was only in second grade, he was a whiz at math and electronics; in his spare time, he put together computerized robots.
"Of course, he can figure it out!" Isabel, Eva's twin, exclaimed. She waved her fingernails, which she had just painted in five shades of violet, in the air. She was dressed in a long velvet skirt with matching Lycra top. There was a metal choker around her neck. "Alex knows what he's doing, don't you?"
"Mmmmph," Alex muttered. He pressed a button, and the screen turned blue, then went blank again.
"Abby, you got here just in time for the good part," her father joked, pointing to the empty screen. "I hope it's not too exciting for you."
Abby closed her eyes. "Tell me when the scary part is over!"
"Ha-ha, very funny," Eva said, doing jumping jacks in
Eva was the opposite of her twin in both style and personality.
When she wasn't in sports clothes, she wore button-down shirts,
and neatly ironed jeans. And she never painted her nails.
On the couch, Abby's mother had spread out papers from her briefcase.
Her reading glasses were perched on her nose. She had changed out
of her tailored wool suit into sweatpants and a T-shirt.
"Eva, will you stop that!" Isabel demanded as her sister jumped up and down, waving her arms and legs. "You look like a windmill."
"I'm increasing my respiration rate," Eva retorted. "The heart is a muscle. It needs to be exercised. You don't get exercise by painting your fingernails to match the wallpaper and sitting in the library all day."
"It's more important to exercise your mind!" Isabel shot back. "Mental concentration improves health and physical performance! You should know that, Eva. The best athletes work the mind before the body."
"Oh, yeah?" Eva said.
Isabel was a champion debater, but that didn't stop Eva from arguing with her. She believed in the number one emblazoned on the back of her basketball jersey.
Abby sighed and sank down in her chair. She had pulled out the purple journal that Ms. Bunder had given her the first day of creative writing class and opened it to a new page.
SuperSisters #1 and #2 are at it again. Mind versus matter. Or, as I read in my Genius Calendar, "What is Matter? Never mind. What is mind? No matter." Ha-ha. That is a good quote.
SuperSis Sonic Boom about to be heard. Isabel's face turning color of purple fingernails. Eva huffing and puffing, but not from exercise. Alex valiantly working to get VCR on track before house blows apart from force of sisters' gale-like fury. Father smiling and pretending nothing is happening. Mother still reading her brief. Is my journal sonic-boom proof???
Eva and Isabel faced off, screaming insults. Abby shut her journal and waited for the final explosion. Only her seven-year-old brother could save the day.
Alex pointed the remote at the screen. Light appeared, and then music began to play. A picture of pumpkins flashed on the screen.
"Hooray, Alex!" Abby yelled.
Eva and Isabel paused in their fight. Their mother looked up from her brief.
"What are we watching, anyway?" Abby asked.
"Last year's Harvest Festival at the high school."
It was a Hayes family tradition to help with the festival. Last year Eva manned the prize booth and Isabel dressed up like a fortune-teller. Abby's mother raffled cakes, and her father let kids throw wet sponges at his face.
"When's the festival this year?" their father asked.
"In a month." Eva got up from the couch.
"Are we all going?" their mother asked.
"Yes!" the twins chimed.
Their father smiled. "It's nice to hear the two of you agree for a change."
"Abby, you'll take Alex again, right?" her mother said.
Abby took a deep breath. She loved her younger brother, and they did many things together. They played chess (not a lot, because she always lost), Rollerbladed, biked, and baked cookies together.
It wasn't that she didn't want to be with Alex anymore, it was just that she wanted to be with her friends more. Next year she would be in middle school. She was old enough to go out more on her own, to have more independence.
Besides, the festival would be so much fun if she could wander around with her friends! There were games of skill, music, cotton candy, cakes, prizes, and crowds of people having a good time.
"I want to go with my friends," she announced. "I want to bike to the festival by myself with Natalie and Jessica.."