Penn Station

Penn Station

by shalimar

I took the Long Island Rail Road into Woodside then took the number seven train into Grand Central Station where I met Baruchah for the first time. In real life she was a nineteen-year-old male student who needed to transition but has not tried yet. In her mind and mine, Baruchah Miriam is one of my five-year-old twins. I went to the information booth and found out what track the train would be coming on. I wore my “Panama” hat and a kiwi colored peasant skirt so she could easily recognize me.

“But you don’t like wearing hats in the chat room,” Baruchah had told me when we discussed the meeting.

“I will be wearing a hat that day,”when we meet,” I explained to her. “That hat and some winter gloves are the only things I still have that are officially male.”

I waited about five minutes and was rewarded with finding her relatively quickly. We hugged and cried when we finally met. We actually met months ago in a chat room, and we’d immediately connected, as I, quickly I became her mother. But we had little time to relax at Grand Central because we needed to meet her twin at Penn Station, and that meant going cross-town and south ten blocks during the end of the rush hour. As it was a nice spring day we decided to walk. During our constitutional, which took about fifteen minutes, I held my “little one’s” hand as we did and we occasionally cuddled, cuddled especially at the red lights.

Margaret Baruchah, her twin, arrived on the Amtrak level about ten minutes after we arrived in the crowded station. In real life she is about thirty-five and tall, with flaming red hair, but to her and to me, she is still five. I gave her the middle name of Baruchah, which is, in Hebrew, the feminine form of blessed. Both of us are male to female transsexuals in transition. As I’ve known Maggie for years, it is from her name that her twin, Baruchah Miriam received hers.

When the train arrived, I had Maggie paged to make sure we found each other. I also had a sign with a crayon picture of “Mama Shelly & Baruchah” that Maggie had made for me months before. She is also called Kitten because inside she is a human kitten. In fact, I consider them both my kittens.

The three of us hugged when we finally met Maggie with all of us were crying.

“I loves you,” Maggie told Baruchah and me.

“I know,” I replied. “I love you both with all my heart.”

“Me, too,” added Baruchah.

We stayed that way for a long time. It was the nicest eternity I had ever experienced and I knew that Baruchah and Maggie felt the same. I felt a need then and there to take them home and care for my five-year-olds, but we had plans, and tickets to see “The Lion King” on Broadway. So we went downstairs to the Long Island Railroad level and started walking towards the Seventh Avenue subway that would take us uptown the few blocks to where the play was to be performed.

Just before the token booth, I stopped and held the kids back. In front of me where the tunnel to Sixth Avenue used to be, was a store. Not just any store, but Spells R Us, THE Spells R Us.

Not believing what I was seeing I asked both of them, ”Do you see what I see?”

“I hope so,” Baruchah replied. “Let’s investigate.”

“We have time,” I added.

“I’ve got to know if this is real,” remarked Maggie.

When we walked into the store, we saw the junk lying on the tables and counters just as it had been described in many of the stories. It seemed like dust, which made me cough, was everywhere. Then I spied the old man in the back wearing his “bathrobe.” What did you expect, something by Armani?

“Pardon me,” said the old man. “Danni and I haven’t had a chance to clean up this morning. And, yes, I do have a few Armani originals.”

“I never thought I would ever meet you,” Maggie said.

“Neither did I,” I said breathlessly.

“Baruchah, Maggie, and Shelly, I’ve been keeping an eye on you for a while now,” he replied. “And I know you three need each other.”

“Very much,” I replied, as my eyes became wet.

“She will be my mommy for real?” asked Baruchah.

“Yes she will if you both want it,” the wizard said. “And Maggie, you may join, too.”

“What do you have in mind?” I continued.

“I have here, the Mirror of Change,” he explained as he ushered us towards the back of the store. “I recently acquired it, and can let it go for a mere twenty bucks. I hope that’s not too much for you.”

”Sold,” I didn’t even hesitate. “I can pay you cash, but I’d rather use a credit card. I may need the cash for us later today.”

“Twenty-five with the card.”

“No problem.”

“Plus sales tax, of course,” he added. “You know that the tax is steep in this city.”

“You are allowed to make a profit. How does it work?”

“Stand in front of the mirror and look in it.”

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I followed his instructions and looked in the mirror. In the reflection was the young woman I have always been in my mind. Although the mirror is six feet tall and I was 5’ 9, it looked to me as if the top of the mirror was about eight inches higher than me in the mirror. My reflection was wearing a mint halter-top and the same kiwi skirt I had on. On my feet were green tennyrunners. Instead of my mousy brown hair, my hair seem to have all the possible colors a human can have, from red to orange through blonde and platinum to browns and raven, and all the colors in between, including chocolate, with blending that made the hair look like it had highlights instead of streaks. The curls and waves were also breast length, instead of the shoulder length I’d come in with. My eye shadow had various greens blended, which complimented my hazel Mongolian slanted eyes and high Oriental cheekbones.

And standing next to me in the mirror were two cute five-year-olds that I knew were Baruchah and Maggie. Baruchah was wearing hot pink shorts, a white Ariel t-shirt and sandals. Her true red, wavy hair went down to the small of her back in braided pigtails. Her Mongolian slanted eyes were hazel, like mine.

Maggie had wavy auburn hair that cascaded down to what will be her breasts in a few years. Her shorts were white and her “Grlls Rule” t-shirt was lavender, the same color as her sneakers. Her slanted eyes were a bright Kelly green.

I looked to one side and the 6’ 3” Maggie T-girl that I came into the store with was still standing next to me. I looked to the other and Baruchah was the same 5’ 9” male that walked with me to Penn Station.

“Are you seeing what I’m seeing?” I asked them.

“I hope so,” Maggie replied. “I wants it, Mommy. I wants it weel bad.”

“ME TOO!” added Baruchah. “ME TOO!”

“Do you see what is around our necks?” I asked.

“Yeah, I see them,” Maggie said. “It gotta be real.”

“What are you looking at?” asked Baruchah.

“The necklaces,” I replied.

“They’re ‘Mommy and Me’ necklaces,” added Maggie.

“The hole in the one I’m wearing, represents each of you two,” I explained to Baruchah.

“And each of the ones we’re wearing fit in that hole,” Maggie added. “I gave Mama those necklaces, so that when she finally got her powers she would put them around our necks.”

“Because you will always be in my heart,” I told Baruchah, then turning to the SRU proprietor, “Ah, Mr. Wiz, what do we do now?”

”Just close your eyes and wish that what you see will be that way,” he replied.

Before we followed his instructions we held hands. A few seconds later I felt two tiny hands holding mine, instead of the big ones they started with. I opened my eyes and smiled at the grinning little girls that once had been only my virtual daughters. Then they put up their hands in the classic method that said to mothers all over the world, “Pick me up.” I lifted them and kissed them all over their faces, leaving lipstick marks on both of them.

“Don’t cry, mommy!” my little redhead pleaded.

“Happy tears, Baruchah.”

Still holding my babies, I turned to the wizard as my skirt flared out and asked, “Could you bring the mirror to Jenna and Cathy?”

“Well,” he responded.

“PEAS!” Maggie begged. “I needs my udder paymates and dey need dis too.”

“Ok,” he replied. “I guess I am a softy for little kids.”

“Just tell them to meet us at FAO Schwartz. We’ll make a day of it by going to the Central Park Playground and Zoo.”

“Then tomorrow you will be working as the Evil Witch?” he asked.

“We get that too?” I asked, surprised. “To be able to heal others? How can I ever thank you? And add some more to that credit card bill. I need Kimmie and her kids and KimEm and Piper and Prudence and Sarah also.”

“AN ALLY!” exclaimed Maggie.

“AN STEPHIE!” added Baruchah.

“And Kay,” I said softly. “And make sure you tell everyone that it is voluntary, especially Stephie. They may ask you to add others. Just add it to my bill and tell the last one to give me the final total.”

“What about Holly?” he asked.

“You are keeping up with us,” I noted. “And she can have Heather Rose as her daughter if they wish.”

Then I kissed him. Baruchah and Maggie followed my example making me proud. After the wizard magically opened the door back outside, I put my munchkins down and held their hands.

“Kids, do you want to go to FAO Schwartz?” I asked as I did a deep knee bend to put me at their level. “That’s a BIG toy store.”

“YEAH!!!!!!!” they shouted

“It means not going to see the ‘Lion King’ today.”

“Anudder time?” asked Baruchah.

“Yes, sweetie, another time,” I replied.

“Soon?” asked Maggie.

“As soon as we can make arrangements,” I replied. “Maybe we could take your entire nursery school.”

“I likes dat, Mommy,” Baruchah agreed.

“Could you both give mommy a hug?”

After the hug I asked them, “Now, how are we going to get to that toy store? Do you want to go by train, by bus or by Taxi?”

“Bus, mommy,” said Baruchah. “I wanta see da city.”

“Yeah,”

At the token booth I bought a subway pass to travel on the bus then we climbed the stairs to the street and walked to the corner of 32nd street and turned east going to the Avenue of the Americas. I figured we should pass the Empire State Building.

“Dat’s tall, mommy,” Baruchah said with the wonder of a child as she looked up.

She wasn’t really looking where she was going. But fortunately, I was guiding them so they didn’t run into the people walking passed. We arrived just in time to get on the uptown bus. There were seats, so I sat down, but the twins ran from side to side, jumping from seat to seat, looking at the sights as the bus traveled to our destination.

“Everything is so big!” Maggie exclaimed.

“That’s because you are small now, MaggPie,” I replied.

“Not dat,” that kitten replied. “Dose buildings are giants! Giants walking towards us!”

As I imagined the buildings walking towards us, I gave her a grin, knowing she still had that vivid imagination, and made a note to myself to nurture that imagination as she got older.

At our stop I thanked the bus driver as we walked down the bus’s stairs.

“Tank you,” added Maggie.

“Tank you,” chimed Baruchah in her little girl voice.

The bus driver smiled as he closed the door and headed towards the end of his route.

We walked the long block of 57th Street looking at the shops along the way. About half way down the block the twins asked to be picked up. I did, putting them in the stroller that I conjured up with some magic. Knowing that I knew what to do with the magic surprised me.

Finally, we arrived at our destination. F A O Schwartz has been a Mecca for children in New York City for Decades.

Standing in front of the store was a young woman who looked about twenty. She had auburn hair. With her was a four-year-old with strawberry blond hair. They were also wearing Mommy and Me necklaces.

“Jenna!” I cried out to the mother. “You turned out beautiful. And you did too,” I told Cathy.

Jenna looked, smiled and gave me a hug. “You also look great, Shell. But why the toy store? We’ll never get them out of here.”

“Don’t worry,” came a voice from a young woman a few feet away from us. She had four children with her, three girls and a boy. She was wearing the “Mommy” necklace and the girls were wearing the “Me” necklaces.

“Kimmie,” Jenna shouted to the carrot-topped woman with a ‘fro.

“When they find something they just have to have,” Kimmie told us. “They’ll come running to us and not stop pestering us until we agree to buy it.”

“Kids also have the shopping bug,” Prudence informed us as she got near us. She turned towards the little girl holding her hand and said, “I know what YOU want. Art supplies!”

“But they only have that gene for toys at that age,” Emma protested as she joined us with her now four-year-old, Katelyn.

“That’s how I started, mum.” said a sixteen-year-old that I knew had to be Allison. “Now I go to ALL the boutiques.”

My Ally kissed me, then her little sisters. She also wore a “Me” necklace.

I realized then that the SRU wizard was working overtime for us.

“Besides, we’ll help watch the little ones,” came a pair of nearly identical voices. They came from my set of fourteen-year-old twins, Stephie and Kay.

Stephie picked up Maggie, as Kay picked up Baruchah. Stephie was dressed as a biker chick, wearing black jeans and black leather jacket over a very revealing black button down satin blouse. Kay was wearing a halter-top that was two sizes too small for her. It revealed too much of her breasts, and if her skirt’s bottom had been any higher on her thighs, she would be charged with indecent exposure.

I sighed. Those girls shouldn’t be dressed like they were, but I didn’t know whether it would be worth the fight with them.

“NO BATH!” Maggie suddenly said, as Baruchah and Maggie pulled out their TABAS (Toddlers Against Baths And Showers) cards, and quickly showed them to their older sisters. Like their cousins, Cathy and Katelyn, they were charter members of that club. None of the members understood that the cards were useless against a determined mother.

“No, not now,” replied Kay. “I think you want to have another doll first.”

“Anodder?” asked Baruchah. “I wants one too!”

“ME threes!” added Kimmie’s little one, Allie.

“I’s four,” added little Vicky, Allie’s twin.

“And what about my kids?” asked my daughter, Rachael, as she herded her big brood in front of her.

Rachael had the “Mommy” necklace because she was now the mother of eleven children, while each of her daughters was blessed with the “Me” necklaces.

“I guess I’ll also be buying things for my grandchildren,” I replied.

All of them said, “Hi, grandma,” to me except Sara, who silently asked to be picked up. I pick up my little granddaughter and was rewarded with a leaky Pamper. Her cuddle more than made up for the wetness. Seeing my slight distress, Rachael had already gotten a new Pamper for her daughter and used some magic to clean and dry my skirt.

“And how is my little princess today?” I asked the two-year-old.

“Pwrincess?” Sara asked.

“That’s what Sara means, princess.

“Oh, you gets me dat unique corn you pwomise me?”

“If it is in the store I’ll get it for you today.”

“Pwomise?”

“Promise,” I replied.

We put a protection spell on all our children before walking into Schwartz, and another on everything in the store to prevent breakage. The kids ran in every direction, which would have made it impossible to be sure they were all safe if we didn’t use that spell.

Walking a little further I saw the unicorn dolls.

“Rachael,” I asked her. “Help me pick out a pretty unicorn for Sara.”

Humm,” she mused before picking up one that was lavender, electric hot pink and white. “How about this one?”

As I agreed to get that unicorn plushy for Sara, a confused Holly walked up to us holding the hand of her now, eight-year-old, Heather Anne.

“I still don’t know how we got here today,” Holly tried to explain. “Early this morning, as the sun was rising, the mirror in my bedroom told me to go to the mall.”

“I thought I was dreaming ‘cause I wasn’t really awake when the mirror started talking,” Heather added

“Yes you did, kitten,” Holly agreed. “I hardly believed my ears. I dressed and drove to the Great Mall of the Bay Area…”

“It was the Sun Valley Mall, mommy,” Heather interrupted. “I went to the Sun Valley Mall. That’s the one near me. In the mall was THE store, the SRU store. And I was waiting for you in the store.”

“The wizard changed us and then told us we needed to take the Zephyr to get to New York,” Holly continued.

“That’s a train, Cousin Rachael,” Heather added. “We rode on a train!”

“We got out of the store across the street from the Emeryville Station, where the train begins its ride. I bought our tickets and we got to the track just as the train entered the station. We had just gotten to our seats and settled down when the train started to move. We were watching the scenery for a few minutes when things started to get really weird.”

“That was a quick ride,” Heather added. “I never had ta asked, ‘Are we there yet?’”

“It was so fast that I was looking at the Rockies as the conductor came into the cab and announced, ‘Union Station, Chicago.’ The first ride was over. I looked at my watch and it was less than fifteen minutes later than the time we left, yet we seem to have been able to see the all of really pretty sights, and even talk about them. But the clocks at the station agreed with my watch.”

“It’s the magic,” Rachael explained.

“But we went through two times zones! And back East is earlier then the Bay Area. Yet the clocks at the station said that my watch was on the proper time for THAT time zone. A few minutes later we got on the Lake Shore Limited and, again we watched the scenery, including Lake Erie. A few minutes later, just like the first time, the conductor came into the car and announced, ‘Penn Station, New York City,’ as we entered the tunnel to Manhattan. Again, my watch and the clocks at the station claimed that only about fifteen minutes had elapsed from the time we left Chicago.

“I somehow knew that we had to get here, so we took a taxi. Did you know you take your life in your hands when you take one of those yellow taxis? The whole trip from my house took less than an hour, make that less than minus two hours, as your time is three hours ahead of ours in the Bay area.”

“Why didn’t you use a broom?” I asked, ignoring her problem with time.

“You know Heather doesn’t know how,” Holly explained. Then, to herself, “How did I know that?”

Just then Stephie came back to us and asked us all to follow her. As we walked toward the back of the store we heard an organ being played by someone not tutored in music. Then we found that it was not just someone, but many someones. Those someones included all of our little, and some of our slightly older children playing on the giant foot organ that is a major attraction at FAO Schwartz in Manhattan. Prue was smart enough to take a camera out of her pocketbook and start snapping pictures. Kimmie and Holly followed with their own cameras. When the manager found out what they were doing, we promised to send copies to both the store and the main office.

After they got tired of playing on the organ the children went wild getting toys they “just needed.” The dolls included Cabbage Patch, Raggedy Ann and Barbie. The girls also wanted play makeup and perfume. The younger boys “needed” trucks, building blocks, actions figures, and “weapons.” There were also some larger play items such as bicycles that we promised to get the kids locally in a few days.

After paying for the children’s treasures, we made arrangements for some of the items to be sent to my place by courier, so they would be there when we got home, That accomplished, we walked the few blocks past the fountain at the Waldolf Astoria and the lake that has the Peter Pan statue, to the children’s playground. When we arrived at the playground gate we made sure the protection spell was still in place, then let the children run.

As we sat watching the kids, I began to think. I looked at the women who had only been my virtual sisters this morning, but now were my real sisters. I saw their happiness as we watched our children play in the playground. Most of them had also just been our virtual children before we encountered the Mirror of Change. I realized that as the Evil Witch Family we would want to share our happiness with others.

I turned to one of my sisters and said, “Jenna? That idea you had for a little girls camp, maybe we can do it now, with real transformations, so they can really experience being little girls.”

“That’s a great idea,” Jenna replied. “We’ll do the transformations and take care of the new little girls as we care for our own kids.”

“But how will we pay for everything?” Emma asked. “A camp is almost always a financially losing proposition.”

“We can manufacture our own money,” Rachael replied as her Sara played near by.

“And what will happen when the IRS and the rest of the government find out?” asked Emma.

It was quiet for a few minutes as we thought about what Emma told us.

“Hugglebugs,” Prudence said, letting her four-year-old Sarah slide down from her lap.

“What?” asked Emma.

“Hugglebugs!” Prue repeated. “We’ll make Hugglebugs. If we can change grown men into little girls we can make the Hugglebug technology work.”

“That’s just the beginning,” Kimmie added. “Shelly you have your soups and, of course, we have the Woobie blanket. Jenna, you also want that restaurant. There should be other things we could do.”

“Bill could make sure they are run correctly,” added Emma. “We should all write out our ideas for businesses and see if he can help us figure how we can do it We should make enough of a profit from them to be able to run the camp at a major loss and still have more than enough to live on.”

“If we do it right we can even have real unicorns!” I added as Baruchah came over to me and climbed onto my lap.

“I wants a unicorn!” my little one added.

“Then we’ll have to have them,” Prudence replied as we all giggled.

“I’s have my little sister, Michelle too?” Baruchah asked.

“If she wants. We’ll start tomorrow.” I explained. “And we’ll let Karen Ann and Judy and Natasha, and Elsa and Autumn and all the others join us.”

“Big fambly!”

“Yep, big family,” replied Kimmie. “I have an idea.”

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She held out a gold bracelet she had just conjured, with two bugs hugging each other. The head was gold with two tiny blue star sapphire eyes with the thorax a ruby. On both sides of the abdomen were emeralds and the wings were alabaster. All the jewels were surrounded by gold.

Dat’s pretty, mommy,” Allie told Kimmie as the child came to look.

“Want to be the first to wear it?” asked Kimmie.

“Yeah,” Allie’s smile grew broad.

Kimmie put the bracelet on her four-year-old then proceeded to magically create bracelets for the rest of us. For the boys the insects were necklaces and had a slightly mean look to them

Then Allie shouted to Sarah, Baruchah and Piper, “Come on, let’s use the slide!” All four girls ran towards the slide. Unfortunately for little Sara, she had just gotten up and started walking towards her mother. Ally ran into her and the two-year-old fell down on her behind and started to cry. Rachel quickly got up and picked up her crying baby, rocking her as Ally apologized to Rachel.

“I forgive you, Allie,” Rachel told her. “But you’re apologizing to the wrong person. You hurt Sara, not me.”

“OH!” Allie responded. “I’s sorry, Sara.”

“You forgive, Allie?” Rachel asked Sara.

Sara nodded her head twice as she stopped crying.

“Sara, comes to swings wid us,” Allie continued.

This time Sara leaned down to indicate to her mom she wanted to join her cousin. After being let down the two cousins mended their friendship by giggling and running to the swings. A few minutes later I saw Heather alternately pushing Sara and Sarah on the swings.

About an hour later, Kimmie looked at her watch and said, “I know we could survive for a while, but the kids will be hungry soon.”

“Where can we go that is both nutritious and can accommodate the kids?” asked Prue.

We all thought of the dilemma.

“The Museum of Natural History,” I suggested. “It has some good quality food and it HAS to be children friendly.”

“Afterwards we could either cruse the museum or go back to the park,” Emma added.

“The only things I want to see are the Planetarium and the gem and mineral exhibit,” Kimmie suggested. “They have a jewelry section that that has some exquisite pieces, including the Hope Diamond.”

“Then it’s settled,” Prue suggested.

We took a few cabs to the other side of the park, but the trip took too long, as
Baruchah, Maggie and Sara shouted in unison, “Are we there yet?”

I was about to give them the look that implied that I wasn’t going to take their nonsense, when I noticed Rachel had beaten me to it.

“Oh, oh!” Maggie said.

“We’s in trouble,” Baruchah agreed.

Instead of buying tickets, we all became members of the museum. Kimmie gave money to her two oldest to get tickets for the planetarium and I insisted that Ally, Stephie, Kay and Rachel’s oldest help them. Meanwhile, we herded the little ones into the cafeteria on the lower level. The teens came back with the tickets and told us we had just over an hour before the show. After lunch we had fifteen minutes, and took a leisurely walk towards the Hayden, stopping occasionally at some of the exhibits.

After we enjoyed the IMAX show in the planetarium, we went to the rock and mineral exhibit. Our goal was the exquisite jewelry visible behind the plate glass. There were a few items each of us especially liked.

As we looked at the jewelry, Kimmie told me, “I like that necklace. I want to try it on.”

“We have magic that will let you do it,” I explained. “But you must put it back.”

“And if I really like it?”

“We’ll get daddy here, and have him look at it and make it for you.”

She took it out of the case magically. When she’d tried it on and looked in the mirror she told me, “I’ll get our father here to look at it.”

It was getting late so we decided to leave the city and head home, so we took cabs down to Penn Station. When we arrived after the nice “Mommy and Me” day, we counted heads to make sure we got enough tickets for everyone. Boarding the train was an adventure, because we needed to make sure we didn’t leave anyone or anything behind. None of us wanted to wait the half hour for the next train nor be brought up on charges relating to a “Home Alone” situation. I sat in one of the triple seats by the door as Rachel took one of the two facing us, with Sarah in her arms and one of her oldest next to her. On each side of me were Maggie and Baruchah, both fussing. Sara was crying a storm that changing her diaper and giving her a bottle didn’t cure.

Noting Rachel’s frustration I suggested. “Let me try.”

Rachel handed Sara to me just before the train started. The train’s rocking calmed Sara down as we traveled the tunnel below the East River and I felt two tiny heads on my arms.

The train emerged from the tunnel on the Long Island side of the river as Rachel pulled a camera out of her pocketbook and mouthed, “They’re asleep”

After taking two pictures she sang in a soft voice, “Mothers with their babes asleep.”

“Are rocking to the gentle beat,” I continued, nearly in a whisper.

“And the rhythm of the rails is all they feel,” Holly added. “Yes, Heather is also sleeping. Of course this is both the shortest and longest rail journey for her today.”

As the train left the Jamaica station, Prue called her husband on her cell phone and told him where and when to meet us. He wasn’t the only one waiting for us at the station as Emma’s Bill and my Steve were also part of the pick up crew. My husband, Steve, is also known as Norman to differentiate him from my twin brother, who is also Steve, known as Wolfe, from his middle name and is married to Betty, Norman’s twin. When they picked us up they informed us that we were having a bar-b-cue for all of us in our back yard. Fortunately the men were doing the cooking, but that meant no vegetables.

I heard the roar of a motorcycle that seemed to stop right outside our home. We looked outside and saw a lady in black leather get off the Hogg, take off her helmet, and shake out her black wavy hair. Around her neck was a “me” necklace. As she wasn’t married, so she wasn’t a mommy, yet. I went outside and gave her a kiss, then a hug.

“Janet!” I said to the young lady. “I’m glad you could join the rest of the family, today.”

“You should know I just had to come,” she replied.

I heard the front door slam. We looked towards the noise and saw Stephie running towards the bike. She touched the leather of the seat then put her hands on the handlebars.

“Stephie,” I told her, “I still say ‘no,’ but you can dream.”

“Maybe someday Mom will say yes, Stephie,” Janet commiserated.

“I’m sorry, Stephie,” I replied. “But until you are on your own, only in your dreams.”

“Then?”

“Then you are on your own. I will advise, but you will be making your own decisions. For your safety, I hope you will follow my advice.”

“Yes, mama,” Stephie replied, disappointed.

“You may still want the bike then,” I told her as I put my arms around both girls. “Janet did. Both grandma and I are still against the bike.”

We walked together to the back yard and smelled the hamburgers and chicken burning on the grill.

As Rachel and I were making plates for our younger children, Maggie came over with a sad look on her face to tell me, “I misses my friend.”

“Who?” I asked, as I finished her plate.

“Debby,” she replied.

“What about her kids?” I inquired as I gave it to her to eat.

“Dem, too,” Maggie added. “And da dog an cat.”

“I don’t know if she will be part of the clan,” I explained. “But I will make every effort for her to be part of us. Maybe she can do something with us she’s only dreamed about.”

“Likes what?”

“I’m not sure,” I acknowledged. “Maybe she’ll teach some of you, but one of us grown ups needs to discuss it with her. We’ll see.”

“Pwomise she be wid us?” Maggie asked with a full mouth.

“Only if she wants to,” I replied. “Everything is voluntary.”

“OTAY!” she shouted as she ran back to the swing set.

“Get your twin here,” I yelled after Maggie. “Dinner’s ready.”

When almost everyone left the table after dinner, I noticed that the little ones were starting to yawn. Rachael was already sitting on the sofa and had her Sara in her lap and was reading “One Fish, Two Fish.” Sara was listening intently, or at least as much as someone with droopy eyes could.

I dressed my twins for bed, and then took out “Good Night Moon.” After sitting down on the rocking chair in their room and putting them on my lap I read the book to them as I rocked in the chair. They were still awake when I finished, so I decided to sing a lullaby. I felt them rest their heads on my lower ribs as I started to hum.

I noticed mom looking in on us and smiling.

A few minutes later, she whispered, “They’re asleep.”

Just to be on the safe side, we waited a while longer before she took Baruchah, and Maggie to their beds.

Then I turned to mom and gave her a hug. With tears in my eyes, I told her, “Thank you, mom. You taught me well.”

A few weeks later we helped my twins’ nursery school take the children to see “The Lion King.” Six months after that they were in the public school for the last time as we had found the land to start our Little Kids Kamp. Debby became the school’s principal at the camp. There were also others that joined us as Debby had.

This is the first of at least three stories in a new universe called “Little Kids Kamp.” It is an open universe with rules.

The lines sung on the Long Island Rail Road are from “City of New Orleans.”

Heather Rose Brown is the artist and shalimar is the author.

We thank Holly Logan, Maggie O Malley and Davenport for their assistance in editing.

Spells R Us is a universe created by Bill Hart. Hugglebugs is a universe created by Prudence Walker. This is also a Kitten Tails and an Evil Witch story.



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