Lydia was quietly telling me a story about something that happened earlier in the day as I was tucking her into bed last night, when suddenly we were interrupted by a snort from the Clara shaped silhouette leaning against the doorframe behind us.
Lydia froze mid-sentence and raised her eyebrows and I turned to see if something was the matter.
Clara was fine. But I could tell she was rolling her eyes and pointing a limp finger at an orange sticky note on her brother and sister’s bedroom door.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“I have no idea, but it is ridiculous,” she sighed.
I turned back to the bed, where Lydia was still looking a bit stunned at having been interrupted. The head of a little boy popped out of the covers next to her and yawned. “That is a sign that says this room is only for me and Lydia. So…” He waved a hand as if to shoo his oldest sister away, “stay in the hallway, please.”
Clara just laughed, completely unmoved. “But what is it?” She looked like a disgusted art critic shaking her fist at a banana stapled to a wall.
The boy explained, “It’s just a picture of me and Lydia.”
Clara rolled her eyes again. “Hardly. You look more like a pair of helicopters. And what is this thing up here in the corner?”
“That’s you,” Lydia said sharply with an air of aristocratic authority. “And there is an X through you. Because you can go back to your own room.”
But then there was a muffled response from under the covers and she added, “Oh, yeah. I forgot. That’s not her room anymore.”
Clara had just started to leave and then suddenly came tumbling back into view. “What are you talking about?”
Lydia smiled coyly. “Oh, I guess you haven’t found the note that is on YOUR door yet…”
Clara disappeared from the doorway and then reappeared a second later holding a small piece of paper. “What in the world does this even say?”
Gideon’s head unearthed itself next to Lydia’s again as they both watched their sister. The older girl was struggling to make out the scrawled misspelled words. “Sold,” she read slowly. “to… the…” She held the note away from her face and glanced at the bed and said half questioning, “old man in the back?”
Lydia and Gideon erupted in laughter and hid under the covers for a few seconds.
“What does that mean though?” But the only answer she got was more laughter. “You sold my bedroom to some old man?”
Lydia shrugged, “No. Well, yes. We had an auction.”
“You auctioned off my bedroom?!” Clara did not seem amused. She shook the sticky note in the air. “You auctioned off my bedroom and then sold it to… The old man in the back?! What does that even mean? Who is that?”
“We are not sure,” Gideon said plainly, “But he offered us eight dollars and we agreed.”
“Eight bucks?!” Clearly she thought her room was worth more. “What does that even mean though? What old man?”
“Just a guy,” Lydia said. “We didn’t know him. I’m sure he won’t come back for it even. He didn’t know there were Guinea Pigs in there. He said he doesn’t like Guinea Pigs.” She motioned with her hand and sang, “You’re fiiine.”
Clara angrily tore the little piece of paper into bits and dropped them in a nearby trashcan. “…sold my bedroom,” I heard her grumbling to herself. “I’ll sell your bedroom to an old man in the back…” She sulked off to check on her Guinea Pigs that were woken up by the commotion in the hallway and now we’re squeaking at the edge of their pen. A moment later the sound of a knife could be heard angrily chopping up a chunk of carrot at the foot of Clara’s bed.
I looked back down at Lydia who was smiling up at me, happy to once again have my undivided attention. “Anyway,” she said conversationally, “Where was I.”
“Well, you were about to tell me about something very clever you and your brother did this afternoon, but I’m afraid I know where this story is going.”
She blinked. “Well, I’m going to tell you anyway, if that’s okay.”
“Yes, dear. I can’t wait.”