I didn’t notice the girls were gone until they were attempting to sneak back to the dinner table.

Clara tried to act casual as she swept around the table and sat down politely to my left. She immediately began pushing sesame chicken around her plate with a fork while she hummed a little tune to herself. I was trying to figure this new situation out when Lydia suddenly levitated up from underneath the table, directly across from me, and sat staring up at the ceiling with her hand pressed flat against her mouth.

I put down my fork, folded my hands in my lap and cleared my throat preparing myself to confront whatever nonsense I could feel was coming. Both of them looked at me questioningly but said nothing and immediately went back to glancing around the room without saying a word.

“Okay, what’s going on?”

Clara glanced at me out the corner of her eye and shrugged. Lydia snorted a laugh through her nose and brought her other hand up to join the first one covering her mouth.

“Uh huh. I’m not stupid you guys. Where were you just now?”

Clara waved her hand in the direction of the living room and frowned.

I leaned towards her and bent my head slightly, listening. “Clara? Is there something in your mouth?”

Lydia snorted a laugh again and started to slowly sink back down under the table.

Clara smirked and raised her hands in confusion, and then finally she opened her mouth and said, “Nope.” very quickly. Very very quickly. Just that one word as fast as she could possibly get it out. “Nope!” However, it wasn’t fast enough. Because the moment she opened her mouth to speak the entire situation became clear. Pop. Pop pop. Snap.

I looked quickly at Lydia, who was now just a pair of eyes peering over the edge of the dining room table. Then I looked back at Clara who was desperately avoiding eye contact.

“Clara…” I said slowly. “Open your mouth.”

She shook her head. “No.” Pop pop.

“You guys! I can’t believe you would do that! What are you thinking?”

“What?” Clara protested. “What’s wrong?” Pop pop. Crackle snap. Pop.

Lydia now started openly laughing under the table and it sounded like she was rolling around on a bed of bubble wrap.

“You guys! You seriously thought you could sneak away from the dinner table and eat Pop Rocks and no one would notice? Are you for real? How did you think we would not figure that out? How? I’m not even mad about you eating candy in the middle of dinner; I’m mad because someday your mother and I are going to be old and we are going to have to rely on you to take care of us, and I am not confident in your ability to make smart choices!”