I arrived home from work yesterday and stumbled upon a miracle. I triumphantly danced through the door and was greeted by an uncommonly empty and silent living room. The girls that usually pounced on me like Hobbes everyday were nowhere to be found. The clock ticked a quiet greeting on the wall.

I put my computer bag down and walked towards the backdoor, drawn by a leaning block of evening sun sneaking through the glass. As I approached I heard the faint sounds of laughter coming from the backyard as if they were being carried on the faint particles of dust riding the golden light through the doorway. And that’s where I saw them. Clara and Lydia, silhouetted across the lawn, were playing on the fort in the yard. They scurried up, down, around, and back, stopping only to giggle, and chasing them happily in circles, matching their moves like a second set of shadows, were two new friends. A pair of neighbor girls, one about Clara’s age and the other Lydia’s.

I stood for a minute or two watching them climb up and down the slide, tumbling over one another like only children can do with someone they only just met, and smiled. Eventually, Clara sensed I was watching and came bounding across the yard to see me.

She burst through the door like the sun itself, throwing noisy laughter off every wall, “Did you see?” She said pointing, “I have new friends!” She jumped in the air and did a dance that convinced me she’s been watching too much Barney the Dinosaur.

“Good!” I smiled, “Do you know their names?”

She looked shocked for a moment and then rushed back out the sliding door yelling, “Girls! Hey girls! What’s your names!”

Clara had been granted her wish. They weren’t the same children she had seen on the picture at the toy store, but all the same, her fort was now perfect.

Lydia, however, is still not sold on the idea. Later that evening, when we had a moment alone, I asked her what she thought of these new little girls that came to visit.

“Oh,” she shook her head softly and looked at the floor, “I’m kindof scared of the big girl.”

I frowned, “Oh no. Why?”

She thought for a few seconds and then looked up in surprised revelation, “I know! It’s probably because she made me go to jail forever!”