SUNRISE had just begun to slowly creep up across the sky, displaying only a thin ray of light upon the town.
“Shh! They’ll hear you,” I snapped at Jade.
“Marco,” Jade finally spoke the code word.
I glanced around us, waiting for the right time to hide. When the coast was clear I whispered, “Polo.”
We both dived into the thick depths of a nearby bush, praying it would provide refuge. Jade and I held our breaths, terrified to make even the slightest sound, fearing it would bring unwanted attention as the area quickly became surrounded by dark, dreary shadows. Most of the shadows disappeared quickly, but one in particular stayed. It paced back and forth a couple of feet in front of our bush until it abruptly stopped and jerked towards us. It took one step after another getting closer and closer to our location until it leaned promptly down to the bush. The leaves were too thick to see us inside, but that didn’t stop him. A rustle of the leaves above us shook as a hand prided it open. Jade gripped my hand and slammed her eyes shut. I was the oldest, only by five minutes, but I still had to be a model and not show fear. The leaves moved as the face of a man took their place.
He smiled at us.
“There you two are.”
Jade slowly opened her eyes, but once she saw who it was she breathed a sigh-of-relief, “Oh, it’s only Charlie. I thought it was Damian.”
He grinned as he asked, “You girls hiding from your mother again?”
I nodded. We seemed to be doing a lot of hiding lately. With all these dinners and meetings, it was boring and we didn’t want to attend. Mom and Damian, her assistant, though, were determined to make sure we went. I mean I understand with dad’s new job, this is what has to happen, but does he really have to drag Jade and I along with him?
“And Damian. There working together this time,” I added to my nod.
Charlie had silver feathered hair that always looked perfect. His smile was so warm and welcoming; you couldn’t help but feel safe and comfortable around him. Charlie was like the wise old man ever story seemed to have.
“Really?” he asked, “And what terrible thing are they trying to make you do this time?”
“They want us to wear dresses!” Jade answered.
I shuddered even at the thought of wearing a dress. Dresses made me feel like I was a wanna be princess. I’m not a tomboy but I’m also not a curled hair, flower dress wearing girl.
He gasped, “Not a dress! Whatever happened to just wearing some torn jeans and an everyday shirt to dinner with the President?”
“Actually, Charlie, it’s the Vice President, so it’s nothing special,” I informed him.
Dinner with the Presidents was last month, and it didn’t go to well. That’s why I’m surprised daddy wants to take us to dinner tomorrow. With the President dinner, Jade and I had a bit of an argument that caused a scene. Daddy was mad but I didn’t care as much because I won the argument, of course.
“My mistake, Casey. Oh, I almost forgot to give you this,” he reached into his coat and out came a neatly wrapped present. “Sorry I couldn’t make it to your girls’ party. How old are you now?”
“Nine,” Jade and I said at the same time.
I was the oldest twin by exactly five minutes, ten seconds, although it felt like five years.
Jade put the present in her lap for us to open later.
“Bet you can’t guess who’s who, Charlie,” I challenged.
Wrinkles wound around his face, turning into a smile. He studied both of us and then waved his finger at Jade and I and uttered, “You’re Casey, and you my friend, are Jade.”
“Damian always calls me Jade,” I whined and put on my pouty face.
“Well, you both look so much alike. The same long beautiful straight cherry red hair, just like your mothers, and smoky gray eyes, you couldn’t tell you two apart,” Charlie tried defending Damian.
“But you could,” I said, “That makes you better.”
Charlie was about to say something until a voice behind him spoke.
“Are you talking to bushes again, Charlie?”
It was my mom’s voice. Jade and I tried to hunch deeper into the bush so she couldn’t see us.
“Oh yes, madam,” Charlie said while standing up, “Did you know if you talk to plants they grow better?”
“Really?” my mom questioned and walked over to the bush, “Weird, I never knew bushes can talk back as well.”
She leaned down by us and brushed the leaves away.
“Come on girls, out of the bush,” she commanded. She then notified to Charlie, “My husband needed help tying his tie.”
“Of course, my apologies madam,” he said embarrassed and immediately left the garden to find my dad.
My mom eyed us.
We crossed our arms and protested, “We are not wearing dresses.”
I was willing to die before she and Damian stuffed my body into some short, silk, flowered, ruffled, dress.
“Well, if you don’t want to wear them then I won’t make you, but you need to get out of the bush, it’s just time for Casey’s S.P. lessons.”
My eyes sparked up as I heard about my lessons. I’ve been waiting forever for mom to finally teach me them. Jade nudged me not to fall for it.
“I promise,” Mom tried persuading us.
“No dresses?” I questioned, not trusting her.
“No dresses,” She assured.
Jade and I glanced at each for our decision, but didn’t need to say a word. It was as if our eyes had words on them.“Fine.”