You know what I think?


Shut up. Aloud, Lynne huffed, "This is stupid," and snapped the book shut again. The shadow smoke skittered back to the corners, chattering to itself in pencil skritch voices.
James Darling, Uncle James to the rugrats now living under his roof while their parents got their brains unscrambled, joggled through the kitchen door frame, hugging a load of homogenized, polysaturated, freeze-frozen eatables. He barked the meat of his shin against an overturned chair, groceries fireworking over the tile.

"Shi-shi-shi-shi," he sprayed through his teeth. Feeling eyes on him he glanced to the attic steps that jut up between the gas range and an overhanging wall. Two round, wide-eyed faces peered from the dark. They blinked in unison.

James straightened, screwing the lid back on the milk, "Hiya, girls. Something wrong?"

A sychronized nod.


The Katie-Lynne twins guided him up, pointed, lip-biting, at the curled form of Josua huddled on the floor. Their gaurdian shot over, felt the boy's pulse and warm breath. He eyed the two siblings hovering over.

"What happened here?"

Katie fumbled, twisted her hands, while Lynne, eyebrows up and eyes unblinking, watched the up-down motion of her brother's chest.

"He just - he," she stumbled, avoiding James' eye, "We were reading this book only there weren't any words which is just stupid because what's the point of a story without words, anyway? And I went and slammed the book shut and Josua freaked out, screaming to be careful. Only he only got to the first bit, care- then his eyes went all spoggly and he," she gathered another breath, "just fell over like that. It wasn't our fault!"

"Is he okay?" Katie squeaked. She had worked her hands red pink at the tips.

James sighed, smiling nervously at the little story, "So you weren't gulping down insulation or anything?"

"No," Lynne scowled, knowing she was being mocked by this stupid grownup with his superiority and his job and his funny little beard that didn't even grow right, anyway. "We're not stupid."

Their uncle scooped up Josua's soggy scarecrow weight, the boy releasing a snotty squawk as he rose. "He'll be fine, Katie. Just overstimulated and passed out or something. No big deal."

The twins considered the thought, eyes flashing in secret conference. "So we didn't do anything?"

Edging gingerly down the narrow stairwell, James said, "No, you're in the clear this time, girls."
I've got the book
I snuck it in my jacket up there when nobody was looking.
Wow! I didn't even see you!
I know, impressive, right? But that's not the point... There's a word in it now.
Oh, come on. A word? You think a word knocked Josua out?
You got a better idea?
"Uncle James? What's Grandiosity mean?"

James Darling peeked over the edge of his paper, sitting on guard outside Josua's door. Before him stood the two girls, hands on hips and jaws jut out in eerie sameness.

"Grandiosity? Seriously?" he didn't lower his paper.

They nodded.

"Er," he riffled through his dusty inner dictionary, screwing up his mouth behind the business section. "I guess it means great, big, impressive, that kind of thing."

They frowned. "Is that all?"

Told you.

Shut up.

"Weeeeeell," James scratched his chin, half the section flopping over with a papery chuckle. "Sometimes it can mean when someone uses too many long words, ridiculous words no one without a built-in dictionary/thesaurus combo in their head would understand." He winked. The girls glared. "Ok. Um. Right. I've heard it used, way back in college psych class probably, to refer to bipolar disorder. Specifically to the time when the afflicted is 'up' and feels like they can do just about anything."

The ratchet-choke of a window lock behind the boy's door, frame rattling up.

"Guys! Watch this! Watch me fly!"

The End

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