No Stone Unturned

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No Stone Unturned

In the dark, behind the bars of hanging winter coats, Daniel heard his sister chant, "Ready or not, here I come!"

His hiding spot was a good one. He got himself into his mother's knee high cowboy boots. On Daniel they passed halfway up his thighs. When his sister opened the closet there'd be a good chance she'd only see a multicolored curtain of cloth and pockets, and two leather boots tucked away at the back.

They'd been playing Hide and Go Seek for the better part of the afternoon, but Tanya still refused to play the role of hider.

"What if you don't find me?" She trembled.

"Such a scaredy cat!"

"Am not!" This stung. Tanya bit her pouting lip.

Daniel rolled his eyes, "Don't worry so much. You're only six. I could find you easy," Daniel had two years on his sister and they both could agree that may as well be a million. Daniel was taller and he had most of his adult teeth. Tanya only came up to his chin and she had only two adult teeth – the front two, which dwarfed the incomplete set of baby pearls beneath. Daniel considered himself to be very brave for an eight year old. Unlike Tanya, his years of experience granted him super human powers. For instance, he wasn't afraid of the dark.

Once on a trip to the zoo, the zookeeper let the Parker siblings pet a falcon. Daniel reach right out for the predator without hesitation. Tanya thought the bird's hunter eyes looked scary. She'd been warned not to talk to strangers, that if she did, she could be boogied away. And when she imagined this ghoulish stranger her parents and her teachers had warned her about, she imagined he would have eyes like this falcon: black, focused, hungry, and mean. When Tanya refused to pet the bird, Daniel became upset. "She's such a chicken, mom!"

Daniel worried that his sister had too many fears. At the playground she wouldn't ride the big slide unless Daniel was waiting for her at the bottom. She still slept with a night light and sometimes she'd wet the bed because she was too frightened to trek past the dark halls to the bathroom.

Daniel thought she was shackled in fears and he wanted to break her free. He only teased her because he wanted her to be brave like he was. He loved his little sister and she should be his partner in crime on the cool adventures he always sought out. Daniel had made it his mission to wash her timidity away, even if that meant hurting a feeling or two. His mother always said scars replace cuts to make your skin tougher.

Tanya finally found Daniel in the closet. She squeaked "Gotchya! Gotchya!" Tanya felt pretty proud of herself, even though Daniel purposely sneezed because he was getting bored waiting for her to find him on her own.

For the next round, Daniel teased Tanya until she agreed to be the hider. He found her on his first guess. She was in the coat closet. The exact same hiding place he'd just hid. Of course she picked that spot. He'd already led the way. He'd proved to Tanya that it was a safe place to hide. She'd risked nothing.

Daniel razzed her even more, "You're the biggest scaredy cat in the world."

"Am not! Am not! I can be as brave as you!"

"If you were really brave, you'd find some place I'd never find you," Daniel persisted, "And, if I find you right away, you're a scaredy cat for life."

Tanya clenched her fists and stomped, a kettle spitting steam. She really looked up to her big brother, even when he teased her. She wanted him to think she was strong. Daniel could do anything and she wanted to do anything too, as long as it was with her big brother. She swallowed her fear in a big gulp and made a decision to hide. She knew just the place. She'd show him who was brave.

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