Peter and Priscilla both awoke at the same time in their own beds to the intoxicating smell of scrambled eggs, toast, and crispy bacon wafting its way up from downstairs. Peter’s stomach grumbled in response and he looked over at his twin sister. She smiled and then opened her mouth in a great big cavernous yawn as she fully stretched out her entire body. Peter caught the yawn bug and followed suit. A familiar voice called up to them from the kitchen.
“Come and get it, Dooleys! Breakfast is served!”
“I’ll race you!” Priscilla challenged, already scrambling to pull on her pajama bottoms.
“Cheater!” Peter protested, laughing as he threw off the bed sheets and heavy comforter. He pushed Priscilla’s shoulder and she fell back onto her bed, pajama bottoms still caught around her kicking legs.
“Blarg!” she shrieked with mirth. “Blamboozled!”
“Ha!” Peter took advantage of the maneuver to secure his own pajama bottoms around his waist. Suddenly, he was belted in the head by a pillow which sent him sprawling across his own bed.
“See you downstairs, slowpoke!” Priscilla called sweetly over her shoulder as she rapidly descended the staircase.
Peter sat up slowly and tussled his already spastic hair. “Brear.”
How did she recover so quickly?
He stood up and walked over to the only window in their bedroom, on Priscilla’s side. The day shone clear and bright. The twisted events of two days ago seemed like some kind of messed up dream. He and his sister had been held overnight for observation at Prudence General Hospital, but their recovery was so apparent and frankly astonishing that the doctor had no choice but to release them in the morning, noticeably scratching his head as he did so. Still, the mental exhaustion caught up with them yesterday afternoon and they both retired to bed early, sleeping all the way through to mid-morning today.
“Hey, Peter!” Priscilla called from the base of the staircase. “Did my pillow split your wig? How’s your dome? Are you coming down to eat or what?”
“I’m okay, P. I’ll be right there.”
A pang of sorrow tinged his heart. Dad was really gone. Still, he couldn’t quit process that fact. It felt like his presence still resided in their home… maybe because they still had someone here to care for them.
He turned from the window and looked at stained glass jewelry box resting on the wooden nightstand between their respective beds. Inside, the Sooth Jewels lay quietly, still assembled.
You do like you have done. You survive. You trust in each other.
When they had returned home yesterday and retired to their bedroom, the young Dooleys discussed the disposition of the Sooth Jewels. They had still been assembled together as a ‘Y’ and the two discussed if they should remain that way. They had shied from talking about whether or not they really did possess any power; they couldn’t think of such things at that moment. But it did seem inappropriate to keep them fitted as a ‘Y’; that was their parents’ symbol. They had mulled over the idea of keeping them separate, but that seemed to lack meaning for them. Instead, they had eventually agreed to assemble them back into an arrow, the symbol that had guided them through that harrowing day. It was a symbol that represented the path they were destined to still tread.
Peter shook himself out of his thoughts and descended the staircase. He entered the kitchen to find his sister and their caretaker already tucking into breakfast heartedly. It had been a long time since the kitchen table was clear enough that more than one person could sit down and eat at it. In fact, it was amazing how much their caretaker had accomplished yesterday cleaning the whole house. The twins, of course, had chipped in, at least until the point that their mental state had required them to rest. It felt right to clean the house, like a purification of the old and stale… a fresh new start. Plus, it helped stave off depression.
“This grub is exceptional, truly,” Priscilla mumbled, shoveling in another mouthful.
Peter wasted no time in stuffing his face. “Sincerely,” he managed between packed cheeks.
“Why thank you very much,” Red said, reaching over to each of them and rubbing their backs gently. “You both seem in good spirits today!”
“Not much choice when you’re starving,” Priscilla said, taking a breather.
“Ha, ha! Very true, sweetie.” Red hefted his bulk from the table and cleared his dishes. He brought them over to the sink and immediately began washing them. Peter watched him, amazed and pleased to see this lost yet familiar ritual return to Dooley Downs.
Though Priscilla had acquired a head start on breakfast, Peter had swiftly caught up and they finished at the same time, stomachs pleasantly full. They caught each others’ eyes and smiled, almost sentimentally.
We are ourselves.
Together they cleared their dishes and brought them over to a whistling Red. “I’ll take care of those for you, kids. Say, I have a surprise for you two today.”
“Oh?” they said in unison.
Red looked to either side at each of them, a big grin plastered on his face, as he continued washing and drying the morning’s plates, cups, and utensils.
“What kind of surprise?” Priscilla asked excitedly. Her brother was equally intrigued. Peter wondered if every day with Red would be so heady.
“Well, someone is coming to visit you today.”
The Dooleys looked quizzically at each other.
“Who?” they said together in unison.
Red finished up the dishes, turned and leaned his butt against the countertop, and dried his hands with the dishtowel. This slight pause built up the tension and expectation considerably in the Dooleys, who squirmed and shifted on their feet as if they had ants in their pants. Finally, Red slung the dishtowel over his shoulder and shifted an eyebrow, first at Priscilla and then at Peter.
“This visitor will be staying for awhile,” Red proclaimed in all seriousness as he folded his arms over his round belly.
“What do you mean, Red?” Priscilla asked, a slight nervousness creeping into her voice.
“Yeah, Red, who is this person?” Peter followed. “I thought you would be taking care of us.”
“Kids, I care a great deal for both of you, but me staying here is only temporary. I’m not going to be your caretaker.”
The admission shocked both of them noticeably.
“Who is?” Peter ventured cautiously.
The Dooleys jumped as a car door slammed outside in front of the house.
“Why don’t you two go see for yourselves,” Red winked. He pushed them gently forward.
Reluctantly, but also with great curiosity, the twins exited the kitchen and moved slowly through the foyer to the front door as Red backed them up. A firm knock sounded on the door. The twins turned to Red uneasily, but he provided a reassuring nod and a smile. Priscilla looked at her brother and motioned her head towards the door. Not feeling that he possessed much choice in the matter, Peter stepped forward and reached for the handle. He hesitated before turning it slowly and opening it.
A small gasp escaped each Dooleys’ lips. The man standing on the doorstep before them looked immediately familiar… because it was Dad.
Only, it wasn’t Dad. Tim’s brother bore a striking resemblance to him because they were twins, as well… a fact long forgotten by the Dooleys since they had not seen him since long before their mother had passed away. Jack Dooley lived on the east coast and neither brother had much money or time to travel and visit each other that often, but they managed to keep in touch by writing once in awhile. He was known to the children simply as Uncle Dooley.
“Hi Peter, Priscilla,” Jack beamed warmly, “it has been a very, very long time.” He stood there politely, tweed coat in one arm, old brown leather luggage case in his other hand, waiting to be invited in. The Dooley kids remained frozen in place. Sensing a developing awkwardness, Red attempted to break the ice.
“It was Tim’s final wishes to have his brother be your keeper should anything happen. I wired Jack the money for a flight and rental car…”
The twins suddenly lunged forward, bursting into tears of joy as they threw their arms around Uncle Dooley, much to his surprise and elation. After a moment, he pulled away and kneeled before them, holding their hands in his and looking into their eyes. Tear tracks lined his cheeks. He swallowed hard and breathlessly before he spoke.
“We’ll get through this together, kids, I promise.”