I wanted to say, "It's okay, make sure you egg the new neighbors," or "Come on in and eat some of this candy, 'cause you know we'll have plenty left over after tomorrow night." But I just stood there in shock. They were so beautiful, simply standing there like mischevious, red-faced cherubs caught in the act of behaving like humans. I reached out my hands and tried to speak, to say something that would compel them to come nearer - words that would not scare them away, but they knowingly shook their heads, "No." The tears that were welling up inside me began to slowly flow.
Suddenly, there was a loud rustling in the bushes to my right and then a voice. "Do you know these kids?"
Of course I know them. Knew them. Know them. What a stupid...
I turned slightly to look and as I did knew I shouldn't. When I looked back again, my babies were gone. I must have seemed very odd to Mr. Martinez as I stood squinting straight ahead into the shadows of the backyard when he was standing ten feet away to my right. I looked now and he was holding the Allen boys by the scruffs of their neck.
"I caught them setting off cherry bombs under my trash cans."
I tried to shield my tears from them and shake my head "Yes." I sniffed long and loud.
"Allen boys. Let them go. They'll go straight home now, 'cause I'll be seeing their parents on Sunday. Right, boys?"
"Yes, sir." And with that they were off. Mr. Martinez stood there for a few seconds before speaking.
"Are you okay? Can I do anything?"
I wanted to say, "Could you turn back time?" but all that came was a sniff from my nose and a wave from my hand shaking "No, thanks."
I sat there for a long time after he left. I searched the shadows and jumped at every fluttering leaf and waving branch. The moonlight played hide-n-seek with the clouds.
"Olly, olly, oxen free," I called to the clouds and of course to the kids. "Come out, come out, wherever you are...."