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Violet’s eyes slowly opened in the darkness of the morning. She was usually well awake by now, having meditated, entered the realm, spoken to Genevieve and Senator Kindle. But this morning, she slept in as winter made way for dark mornings. She focused on the dimness and sat upon the cot. She looked over at the children sleeping in the bed. They hadn’t moved all night. She rubbed her eyes and stood up to stretch. She slowly exited the room as she watched for any movement from the bed. There was none.

Violet walked downstairs to the house residents, making breakfast and getting ready for their busy day. Violet asked them to reschedule her calendar for the next three days. She wanted time with the children before she walked back into her reality. She met Delilah in the kitchen, who was helping with the pancakes, oatmeal, and toast. Violet hugged her mom, who recognized the tired in Violet’s face.

“Good morning, sweetheart. How’d you sleep?” Delilah asked as she handed Violet her standard cup of tea.

“I slept good, but I’m still exhausted.” Violet responded as she reached into the cupboard for two bowls and two trays. She placed them on the counter.

“Are the children awake yet?” Delilah began to help Violet by putting oatmeal in the bowls and jam on their toast.

“No. Not a sign of life from either. I’m sure they’re exhausted too.” Violet responded.

“Well, we can wake them up with some breakfast. I’m curious about their story. No one has any idea who they are. We’ve put out a notice for others to let us know if any identification comes in. Poor babies. I can’t even imagine what they’ve been through.” Delilah could not wait to nurture them. She was motherly by nature.

“Sounds like a plan.” Violet said as she finished filling two glasses full of milk and two glasses full of orange juice. She wanted to give the children choices. She grabbed a tray full of food, and Delilah grabbed the other. “Where is Caroline?” Violet asked. She was used to seeing Caroline first thing in the morning. Plus, the children would need to be examined to make sure they were healthy.

“I assume she’s still asleep.” Delilah replied. “Last night was a lot for her. She stayed up most of the night taking care of the two that you rescued. She’ll need some time this morning.”

“Okay. I’ll speak to her in a little while. Ready?” Violet asked with the tray in hand.

“Ready.” Delilah responded with excitement. She was eager to get to know the children.

Both women walked up the stairs and entered the dark room. They placed both trays on the dresser, and Delilah slowly opened the curtains. The women turned to see both children were sitting straight up in bed. This was not how Violet left them. It was ominous to see both children sitting ridged in an upright position with blindfolds covering a good portion of their faces. Delilah and Violet looked at each other to confirm that this was odd. It was. Violet’s expression sought out help from her mother. Delilah recognized this but had no comforting response.

“Good morning, children.” Delilah chirped as her face expressed confusion. Delilah and Violet approached opposite sides of the bed and sat at each child’s feet. The children did not move or say a word. “My name is Delilah, and this is my daughter Violet.” Both women watched for a response. There wasn’t any. “What are your names?” Delilah asked. Again, no response. Fear set into both Delilah and Violet’s hearts. What have these children been through that their actions are so mechanical, and they don’t respond? Violet gently placed her hand onto the boy’s foot that lay under the covers. The boy instantly pulled back his foot, which shocked Violet and Delilah.

“Don’t touch me!” The boy spoke. Without speaking.

Immediately Delilah and Violet jumped from the bed. They stood frozen. They recognized that he had entered their minds with ease. Violet knew how hard learning this gift was, even for her. Either woman did not expect this. Delilah looked over to Violet, seeking recognition that she wasn’t out of her mind. Violet was just as confused as Delilah. She turned back towards the children and entered their minds to respond.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. I promise I won’t hurt you.” They waited for a response from the children, but there wasn’t any. They sat in silence. “We know you’ve been through a lot. We’re here to help you, not hurt you. Can you tell us your names?” There was still no response. Delilah watched the children intensely. Violet gave them a few moments before trying again. “We just want to help you get back to your parents and family, but we can’t do that if we don’t know your names.” Violet continued speaking through all of their thoughts. Moments went by, and the women were beginning to think this might be an impossible task, at least for now.

Then quietly, the little girl spoke through their thoughts. “We don’t have parents. You need to return us. We aren’t supposed to be here.”

“Quite Annabelle!” The boy’s voice rang through all of their thoughts. Violet and Delilah immediately looked at each other. Violet realized that they had not mastered private communication through thoughts yet.

“No, Gabriel! I want to go home!” Annabelle cried. “I want to go home!”

“Stop it, Annabelle!” Gabriel yelled back.

Violet allowed a few moments to go by as the children again became silent. Their tone was not typical for Prohibited. The boy seemed very angry, but the girl was obviously sad and simply wanted to go home. Time went by as Violet waited for the right moment. She and Delilah watched as the girl maneuvered her hands, seeking the boy’s hand. She located it and held onto his hand with both of hers. She was scared. That was obvious.

“Hello, Gabriel. Hello Annabelle. I’m Violet. It’s nice to meet you. Please don’t be afraid. You’re safe now. We aren’t going to hurt you. I promise.” Violet calmly spoke. “We want to get you home. Just let me know where that is, and we’ll take you home.” Violet pleaded.

Immediately the boy responded angrily, “You took us from our home! Take us back!”

Violet’s words staggered, “But we rescued you from the facility where you were being held captive.”

“No, we weren’t. That’s our home. Now take us back!” Gabriel said sternly.

Violet was beyond confused. “What happened to your parents?” She asked them.

“We don’t have parents.” Annabelle replied. “Never did. We’ve only had each other.”

Violet wanted to cry. What had the Normals done to these poor babies? She thought.

“Are you brother and sister?” Violet asked. Delilah stood in shock merely watching. She could not speak through thought, and even if she could, she had no words.

“We’re twins.” Annabelle said, seemingly pleased. Violet could see a slight grin on her face.

This was Violet’s in. “Twins? Wow, how great is it to have a twin, Annabelle?”

“It’s awesome.” Annabelle replied. This time they could see a smile on her face.

“Annabelle, that’s enough.” Gabriel insisted.

“No, Gabriel. She’s nice. I like her.” Annabelle was showing defiance.

“How old are you?” Violet softly asked. She continued communication through thoughts as this was the way the children seemed to prefer it. She knew she needed to tread lightly as to not push her luck with them.

“We’re nine.” Annabelle seemed proud.

“So, Annabelle, have you always lived at that home?” Violet asked.

“Yep. As long as I can remember.” Annabelle began playing with her brother’s fingers. Gabriel was no longer yelling at his sister to stop talking. It seemed like he knew it was pointless.

“Well, that’s nice. Do you like it there?” Violet asked.

“It’s okay. Kind of boring, though.” Annabelle replied.

“That’s too bad.” Violet responded softly. “How come you wear blindfolds?” Violet was scared she might have pushed her luck with this question. She nervously waited for a response.

Annabelle’s shoulders shrugged. “We always have. The only time we can take them off is if the doctors in the white coats take us into other rooms or if Gabriel and I aren’t together. So, we wear them a lot.” Annabelle’s tone turned sad again. “I haven’t seen Gabriel’s face in a very long time.”

Violet and Delilah looked at each other with a combination of sadness and confusion. This was truly beyond anything they could have imagined. It appeared that these children had been taken at a very young age or even from birth. It seemed that their whole lives had been spent in the room they had been rescued from. Both women’s hearts ached for these children.

“Are you two hungry? We have food for you.” Violet whispered through their thoughts.

“I am.” Annabelle said, her voice timid and small.

“Gabriel, would you like some food?” Violet entered Gabriel’s mind.

“No!” Gabriel grumbled back.

“Gabriel, you must be starving. I promise it’s good food. I didn’t cook it.” Violet attempted a little levity to create him a peaceful space.

“I said no!” Gabriel insisted.

“Okay. Well, we have food for you here if you want some.” Violet picked up one of the trays and looked at Delilah. “Gabriel isn’t hungry right now. But we’ll leave his plate here just in case.” Delilah nodded in acknowledgment that Violet planned on Gabriel eventually eating. Violet pulled the chair alongside the bed where Annabelle was sitting. “Okay, Annabelle, would you like me to feed you? We have some oatmeal with cinnamon and sugar. We have toast with strawberry jelly, and we have a banana.” Violet placed the tray on her lap as she waited for Annabelle’s instructions.

“What’s oatmeal with cinnamon?” Annabelle struggled with the word cinnamon.

“You’ve never had oatmeal or cinnamon before?” Violet asked.

“I don’t think so.” Annabelle responded.

“Well, you are in for a treat. The oatmeal might feel a little weird in your mouth. The texture is quite interesting. But I think you’ll like it.” Violet spoke in such a loving way that Annabelle was developing comfort with her. “I will just put a little bit on the spoon. Do you want to take off the blindfold so you can feed yourself?”

“No. We aren’t supposed to take off the blindfolds unless we aren’t together.” Annabelle insisted.

“How come?” Violet asked.

“Because we just aren’t!” Gabriel snapped back.

“That’s not a problem. I can feed you. Are you ready?” Violet asked Annabelle.

“Yes.” Annabelle shyly replied.

Violet put the spoon up to Annabelle’s lips as Annabelle stuck her tongue out to take a taste. Annabelle did this a few times until she was comfortable taking in the small amount of oatmeal. Annabelle chewed it slowly and smiled.

“That’s good. You’re right. It does feel funny. But it’s good. Can I have some more?” Annabelle asked excitedly.

“You bet.” This time Violet put a large scoop on the spoon so Annabelle could take as much as she wanted. As she placed the spoon to Annabelle’s lips, she took the entire spoonful. This time she didn’t even chew it. “More, please?”

Violet and Delilah smiled at each other as Violet continued to feed Annabelle bite after bite. She couldn’t get enough. She acted like she hadn’t eaten in days. It didn’t take Annabelle long to finish all of her breakfast.

“Can I have some more?” Annabelle asked. “I really like the oatmeal.”

“Absolutely.” Violet responded. Then she hesitated. “Annabelle, when was the last time you ate anything?”

Annabelle didn’t immediately reply. She was thinking. “I don’t remember.” She finally confessed.

“Well, you can have as much as you’d like. Gabriel too, when he’s ready.” Violet replied as she walked over to the dresser and picked up the second tray. “I’ll feed you Gabriel’s food. Mom, can you go down and get Gabriel another tray so his breakfast will be warmer?” Violet asked her mom through thought so they all could hear.

“Absolutely. I’ll be right back.” Delilah replied out loud. Delilah grabbed the first tray with the dirty dishes and left the room. Violet continued to feed Annabelle, bite after ravenous bite. As she did this, she noticed Gabriel’s face turning towards the food. He smelled it.

Occasionally he would lick his lips and then turn away from it. There might be hope that he would eat, eventually. Violet placed the tray on Annabelle’s lap so that the food’s scent would be right under Gabriel’s nose. Violet was determined to win this battle. As Gabriel continued to lick his lips and fight his urges, Delilah walked into the room with the new tray of food. She placed it on the dresser.

“Gabriel, is it alright if we try to feed you?” Violet asked. “I don’t want to pressure you, but you probably need to eat something.” They waited for a long time for a response as Violet continue to feed Annabelle.

“Fine!” Gabriel grunted. “Fine, but not because you want me to!”

Violet laughed internally at the fierce stubbornness of this child. “Absolutely Gabriel. This is your decision. Thank you.”

“Can I try the oatmeal?” Gabriel asked defiantly.

“Of course.” Violet responded. Delilah grabbed the tray and pulled a chair alongside the bed to feed Gabriel.

“Gabriel, you’re going to love it!” Annabelle screeched through their thoughts.

“Whatever, Annabelle. I’m just doing it to shut them up!” Gabriel muttered. He was going to be a tough nut to crack. But they were getting past one hurdle, and Violet was determined to gain his trust and respect.

“Whatever, Gabriel! You’re doing it because you’re hungry. Be nice!” Annabelle insisted. She was just as tough as he was, without the hardened exterior.

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