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     "Let's see what you got for me this time."

     I pushed the power button to my computer, listening to it spark to life. Resting my chin on my fist, I closed my eyes and yawned fiercely. I had just woken up. But it was a Saturday morning, so I had nothing better to do than go on the computer, of course.

     My social pages weren't as thriving as they usually were, to my surprise. Friend requests, profile views and unread messages - every morning there were several, but today seemed to be lacking.

     Maybe it was just a slow weekend. Alerts should come pouring in sometime soon. But until then, my stomach was empty, and I knew there was some food in the kitchen just calling out to me.

     "There better be some food left for me!" I yelled out, standing up and stretching my back. I headed down the staircase and made my way into the kitchen, where I got a whiff of the fading scent of pancakes.

     Chocolate chip, to be exact.

     "Ben's not as much as a pig as you think, and you know Izzy can only handle one," my father's clipped tone came from the head of the table where he sat with his morning coffee, his face hidden by today's newspaper.

     "Just saying. Who knows when the last time you ate was," I replied, pointing out my father's obvious weight loss. Ever since my mom passed away, dad's weight had been going up and down, up and down like a yo-yo for the past year and a half.

     "Just because I've lost a few pounds doesn't mean I eat every edible item I see. And lower your voice, the baby's sleeping," he said, giving me a look then returning his eyes to the paper.

     "Mmm," I mumbled, swiftly grabbing a pancake from the center plate on the table.

     I proceeded down the hallway towards my baby sister's bedroom. Chewing on the last of my pancake, I pushed open the bedroom door.

     Everything in Isabell's room was a pale pink and peach color. Peach was my mom's favorite color, and she wouldn't have Izzy's nursery splattered in any other color.

     I shuffled over to the crib and peered down into it.

     "You can't fool me," I whispered at the toddler. The corners of her mouth curled up and her eyelids popped open, revealing bluish-green eyes.

     I reached down and scooped her up. At eighteen months, Izzy should be able to say a handful or two of words, but she's never spoken a single one. I think it might be an aftermath of the trauma from her birth, dad says she's just a late bloomer.

     "Wanna go bug Ben?" I asked, smiling. Izzy and I had a thing for bothering Ben. We were like a double package of doom, when together.

     I headed out of the nursery and down the hall, to Ben's bedroom. He usually kept his bedroom door closed, but never locked. He knew dad would have a fit if he locked his door.

     "What are you up to?" I yelled, flinging open the door to see Ben on the floor, playing a racing game on his Xbox.

     "What's it look like? Leave me alone," he mumbled, his eyes glued to the television screen.

     "Not gonna' happen. Izzy wanted to know what you're up to," I said, setting Izzy down on the floor. She waddled around on the floor, grabbing at Ben's toys, including his matchbox cars.

     "No she doesn't, she can't even talk. And she needs to keep her hands off my things," he said, turning around and grabbing the toy cars out of the toddler's hand. She immediately started crying and looked up at me.

     "Hey, be nice!" I yelled out, smacking my brother on the back of his head, then picking up Izzy.

     "Well tell her not to touch my stuff," he replied, rubbing at his head.

     "She's one, she doesn't know any better," I said, pulling one of the toy cars out of Ben's hand and giving it back to Izzy.

     "Hey! I'm telling dad!" Ben called out, as I turned around and walked out of the room, Izzy in my arms.

     "I'm telling dad," I mocked, closing the door behind me.

     "Don't worry about him. He's a meanie," I said, bouncing her on my hip. Izzy laughed and shook the toy car in her hand. 

     "When are you gonna start talking?" I asked, with a sigh. 

     "We have a doctors appointment with her pediatrician next week," dad said, pulling on his jacket. Even in early June, Leighton was a chilly place to be. "They think she should see a speech therapist. Waste of time and money, if you ask me."

     "Where are you going?" I asked, shifting Izzy to my other arm.

     "To the store, thought I'd go food shopping before we start running low again," he replied, reaching over and kissing Izzy on the head.

     "Behave, and keep an eye on the kids. Last thing we need is another mishap."

     "Dad, I learned my lesson, okay?"

     "Not okay. Just don't let anything bad happen, alright? I'll be back," he said, and walked out of the room. I heard the front door close, letting me know he was gone.

     "Whatever" I mumbled, looking at Izzy, who was too occupied with the toy car in her mouth.

     I knew I couldn't ignore the fact that I did endanger my little brother and sister, but I hated whenever it was brought up.

     About six months ago, I was left home alone with Izzy and Ben while. It was ten o'clock at night, and my dad wouldn't be back home until the next night, so I invited a few friends over for a party. Not really thinking anything of it, a few more uninvited guests came to the party as well. One of them being an unknown teen with a pistol in his backpack.

After someone discovered the gun, the kid went crazy and shot up the living room. Cops were called, the kid was arrested, charged and sentenced. I still have no idea who he was, and haven't really talked to any of my friends about it since. I barely see them anymore, as it is.

After the incident, dad pulled Ben and I from public school and put us in home schooling. I was also never really left alone with the kids. Dad claimed he wanted to keep as much of an eye on all three of us as he could. I guess the incident really freaked him out, understandably.

"You know I wouldn't let anything bad happen to you, right?" I asked Izzy. She looked up at me, then glanced away.

"I'll take that as a yes."

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