Headaches, Feathers and Wars Between Twins
by Lisa McCourt Hollar
Maggie woke with a killer headache. She pulled her blanket over her head and tried to go back to sleep, but the arguing in the next room told her that wasn't going to happen.
"I HAD IT FIRST!"
"IT'S MY TURN!"
"GIVE IT BACK!"
Sighing, Maggie tossed the blanket on the floor and sat up, the sound of thunder greeting her, followed by lightning dancing across a quickly darkening sky.
"Just perfect," Maggie groaned, wincing as a bolt of pain stabbed her in the head. "Happy birthday to me."
Stumbling into the livingroom to end the war of the twins, she nearly became a casualty as a pillow sailed through the air and hit the glass vase Aunt Marna gave her and Owen for their anniversary. The vase, a family heirloom whose history Marna claimed traced back more than a hundred years, barely missed Marna's head before it crashed to the ground, breaking into just as many pieces as its long life.
The silence that followed was nearly deafening. James stood there with a pillow raised over his head, while Jane, posed on the couch as though preparing to do a swan dive on top of her brother, was frozen in place. A variety of snack foods littered the floor; chips, cookies, some crumbs that Maggie couldn't identify, as well as feathers and stuffing from the pillows.
"What is going on in here?" Maggie's voice was quiet and she pronounced her words one syllable at a time. Her twins knew they were in trouble when she spoke to them with this voice and they hurried to try and appease her before it would begin to grow louder, as it always did when their mother was angry.
"It was James," Jane said, straightening up and stepping off the couch, taking care to avoid a can of soda sitting on the floor, tripping and knocking it over anyway.
Maggie rushed to the kitchen for a rag to mop it up with. Behind her she heard James angry response to his older by two minutes twin. "It was not my fault! Jane threw the pillow, she broke the vase!"
"Only because James was being a jerk face and wouldn't give me the remote back. He knows it is my turn to pick what we watch. He got to pick the last time!"
"No one but you wants to watch silly Milly Montanna Billy but you," James said, purposely mangeling the name of his sister's favorite pop star, which sent Jane off into a rant about his favorite show and how only a poopy head would enjoy the lame cartoons he liked. Rag in hand, Maggie arrived back in the living room just in time to prevent Jane from resuming her earlier dive onto her brother.
"I don't care who started what," Maggie said, kneeling on the carpet and sopping up the soda with the damp cloth. She felt chips grind into her knee. Closing her eyes, Maggie silently counted to ten. When she opened them again she saw Jane sticking her tongue out at James. Seeing her mother watching, the six year old closed her mouth and tried to look innocent. "Why are there chips all over the floor," Maggie asked, trying to keep her voice patient.
"Oh," the twins said in unison, "we made our own breakfast! We didn't want to wake you. It's your birthday!"
"Of course," Maggie said, taking in the mess and trying to appreciate her children's good intentions. She'd never liked the vase Owen's sister had given them, so some good had come to this day. "Always look for the silver lining," Maggie thought, trying to buck her spirits.
Grabbing the broom she began to sweep everything up into a pile, trying to get the stuff the vacume sweeper couldn't handle. "I didn't care for the color of the pillows anyway," she said, picking up the feathers and stuffing. "Red would probably blend better with the couch. Wait a minute...feathers?"
Maggie plucked one of the feathers from the growing pile she'd swept up. It was a light yellow. So was the next one. "These pillows aren't filled with feathers." Maggie's voice was quiet again and her words very precise. James and Jane slowly began to back out of the room just as Charlie, their yellow canary, landed in front of their mother, right on cue. Minus a few feathers.
copyright 2011 Lisa McCourt Hollar. All rights reserved