Twenty minutes later the four of us were sitting in a small fast-food restaurant not far from the school.
“You don’t have to do this,” Asa said from next to me. Lizzie and Ellie were buzzing with excitement and I felt joy watching them.
“But I want to,” I said. Soon our names were called and we went and got our food, bringing it back to the table. I heard all three of the siblings’ stomachs rumble, and I smiled at them. Lizzie and Ellie looked at me as if they were asking permission and I nodded my head, granting it to them. They tore into their food hungrily, and I leaned over to ask Asa,
“When was the last time you had a proper meal?” He looked at me and shrugged.
“Not since our parents died.”
“And when was that?”
“Three years ago.” I looked at him sadly.
“Do you go to school?” I asked him. He shook his head.
“We find odd jobs to do throughout the day and try our best to earn money so that we can eat,” he said. “But not many people want dirty children cleaning their houses.”
“I can help with that,” I said.
“What, with cleaning houses?” he asked.
“No, with you guys being dirty. My parents are out of town for the weekend, so tomorrow, I’ll come to get you from the school and you can take showers at my house,” I said.
“No, I wouldn’t want to impose,” Asa protested.
“It wouldn’t be an imposition,” I said. “You’re coming to my house tomorrow and that’s final.” He sighed but didn’t protest.
“If the doors are locked tomorrow there’s a window on the south side of the building where you can get in.” I nodded and kept that in mind. Soon we all were done eating, and we walked back to the school.
“Thank you,” Asa said once we were back in the gym.
“You’re welcome,” I responded. “I have a question for you.” He nodded, allowing me to go on. “So, my best friend is awesome with clothes and stuff and her parents are extremely rich, so can I enlist her to help you guys?”
“Is she trustworthy?” Asa asked.
“Yes. I’ve known her since I was three and I trust her very much,” I said.
“Okay then. But don’t let her spend too much money on us.”
I only smiled.
The next morning I woke up to sunlight streaming through my window; I had forgotten to close my curtains last night. I saw that it was 9:00 already, and I picked up my phone to call Lucy.
“Hey, what’s up?” Lucy asked when she picked up.
“I need you to come over today,” I said.
“I was planning on it anyway,” she said.
“Good. Get here ASAP,” I said, then hung up. Lucy was here in ten minutes, pulling up in the fancy car her parents had bought for her when she turned 17.
“What do you need?” she asked, walking into my room.
“Okay, so this may seem really weird, but yesterday I went back to school to get a textbook I forgot that I needed to study this weekend, and I had a panic attack because the lights shut off while I was inside. But a guy found me on the floor and he talked me through it, helping calm me. I found out that he was the one to take me to the hospital the other day, and I asked why he had been in the school. He lives there, Luce. Lives there! Anyway, I asked to see what part of the building he lives in, and he led me to the gym, and he has these adorable six-year-old identical twin sisters who live there with him. They have lived there for three years since their parents died, and they do odd jobs all-day every-day to try to get money for a real meal. So I took them out to eat last night and Asa - that’s his name - said that most people don’t want dirty kids cleaning their houses so I told him that they could shower here since my step-parents are gone. And I want to help them with new clothes and stuff, the clothes they were wearing were old and tattered,” I explained.
“So you want me to help them too?” Lucy asked. I nodded. “Like with what?”
“Anything,” I said.
“Like new clothes and stuff?”
“That would be very helpful,” I said.
“Okay, I’ll do that,” she said.
“Thank you so much, Luce!” I said, hugging her. She laughed.
“You’re welcome. So I’ll go to the mall and get new clothes for them after I see their sizes - I can get Jordan to help me with Asa’s - and buy them new clothes while they take showers here.”
“Sounds like a plan,” I said. “But we should go get them now.”
We got into Lucy’s car and drove to the school, parking in the teacher’s parking lot which was closer to the gym. I found the window that Asa was talking about and we climbed into the dark gym. We walked over to the same corner as last night and found Asa and the twins. Asa was sitting upright, staring into nothing, while the twins were still sleeping.
“Asa,” I said, whispering and bending down, shaking his shoulder. His head snapped towards me and he looked startled. “Hey, it’s just me.” he seemed to relax after he knew who it was.
“Is that your friend?” he asked, pointing at Lucy. I nodded.
“That’s Lucy. Let’s get you guys out of here.” Asa stood up and picked up Lizzie, and I picked up Ellie. We walked back towards the window and to the parking lot where Lucy’s car was parked. We climbed in and Lucy started driving towards my house. The twins, who were sitting in the back on either side of Asa, were jolted awake by the swaying of the car.
“Where are we going?” Lizzie asked. “Is that Morgan?” Asa nodded.
“That’s Morgan and her friend Lucy. They’re going to take us to take showers,” Asa said.
“Yay!” Lizzie cheered. Her cheering woke up Ellie, who sat up and looked around. “We’re going to get showers, Ellie!” Lizzie said.
“Where?” Ellie asked.
“At Morgan’s house!” Lizzie said.
“Really?” Ellie asked, looking at me in the passenger seat. I nodded and a grin split her face. Soon the two girls were cheering loudly all the way to my house.
We got out at my house and I led the girls and Asa inside. I ushered the girls into the shower first, while I brought Asa to my room to talk to him.
“Lucy left to get you guys clothes,” I informed him.
“Morgan, no, we don’t need anything else, you’ve been incredibly helpful,” Asa said.
“No, I’m going to help you more,” I said. “I’m going to help you until you find somewhere to live.”
“We have somewhere to live,” Asa said.
“No, that’s shelter from the cold. It’s not a house,” I said.
“Fine. But I won’t let you spend a ton of money on us,” Asa said.
“That’s fine with me.”
“I have a question for you,” Asa said.
“What’s your song?” I was taken aback. No boy had ever asked me what my song was, let alone a cute one like the one sitting next to me.
After a few seconds of staring at him, Asa asked, “What?”
“Nobody’s ever asked me what my song is,” I said.
“I’m not sure, I guess they don’t think I’m pretty.” With my slim, tall body, and my dark brown hair and brown eyes, I had never thought myself pretty.
“Well, then they think wrong. But what’s your song?” Asa asked. I started singing it, and after a few lines, Asa joined in. I stopped and looked at him in surprise.
“That’s your song too?” I asked. He nodded. “Oh my gosh, I actually found you!” I leaned over and hugged him. His arms hesitantly wrapped around my frame and I smiled. Our silence was broken by the call of our names. We hurried to the bathroom where Lizzie and Ellie were laughing and playing in the bubbles of their bath. There was water spilled over the edges of the tub and on the floor of the whole bathroom. I laughed while Asa scolded his sisters.
“It’s fine, Asa, it’s not that big of a deal,” I said.
“It’s fine.” He sighed.
“Girls, are you almost done?” He asked.
“We still need to wash,” they said. In response, Asa said jokingly,
“Well, hurry up, I’m waiting!” they giggled and nodded and we left the bathroom.
“Morgan?” I heard someone call up the stairs. It was Lucy.
“Up here!” I called back. She appeared in my bedroom with a bag of clothes and her boyfriend.
“He insisted on coming,” she said. I could tell Asa was uncomfortable with the new person, and I put a hand on his. He looked at me, surprised, but I just smiled at him. Lucy outstretched the bag of clothes towards me, and I rifled through it, looking through the clothes.
“Perfect, thanks, Luce.” there were twin shouts of my name from the bathroom. “Be right back,” I said, grabbing two sets of clothes in the twins’ size and rushing to the bathroom. Lizzie and Ellie stood on the bathmat, shivering.
“We need towels,” Lizzie said.
“Oh I’m sorry, I forgot them, I’ll be right back,” I said, rushing to the linen closet in the hallway and grabbing two fluffy towels. I hurried back to the bathroom, enveloping the twins with the towels. They giggled as I hugged them, and I showed them the new sets of clothes. They gasped.
“Are those for us?” Ellie asked. I nodded and the twins beamed.
“Hurry up and get dressed,” I said. They nodded and I backed out of the door, giving them privacy. I stood in the hallway and waited for the girls to come out, smiling at them when they did. I took each of them by the hand and led them back to my room. I opened the door and the girls ran to Asa, giving him a hug. He crouched down to their level, tickling them until they begged him to stop. They flopped on the floor, exhausted, and I walked to Asa.
“Your turn,” I said, pushing him towards the door.
“Ugh I thought I might be able to convince you to let me go without,” he whined.
“Nope. now go take your shower, young man,” I said, channeling my best mom-voice. We both burst out laughing. Lucy and Jordan looked on with amused faces while I pushed Asa out the door and to the bathroom.
“Here.” I handed him the bag of clothes, waiting while he picked an outfit out before taking the bag back with me to my room where Lucy and Jordan were playing with the twins. I only relaxed when I heard the water running, and I joined in with playing with the twins. Suddenly an idea struck me and I bolted out the door, calling over my shoulder,
“Be right back!” Before running to my step-parents’ room and calling my stepmom.
“Hey Linda,” I said when she picked up.
“Hello Morgan, what do you want?” she asked.
“So, you know how you’ve been wanting a cleaner for the house for a couple of years?” I asked.
“Yes, did you find me one?” she asked.
“I did. He’s really trustworthy and he’s cleaned multiple houses before. The one downside is that he would need childcare, which I can do,” I explained.
“What does he charge?” Linda asked.
“Um, he charges ten dollars per hour,” I said, hoping that was about the right amount.
“Okay, he’s hired. But he only comes when I’m at work, in the afternoons. Sound good?”
“Yep. Thanks, Linda!” Then I hung up and ran back into my bedroom.
“What’s got you all excited?” Lucy asked.
“I’ll tell you when Asa comes back.” I could barely contain my excitement, and I was very impatient for the ten minutes that Asa was still in the bathroom. When he finally came into my bedroom, I hauled him by the arm to come to sit on the bed by me.
“Whoa, Morgan, what’s going on?” Asa asked.
“Guess what?” I said mischievously, an excited twinkle in my eyes.
“What?” He asked.
“I got you a job!”