Eight year old Heath Barkley felt the tail of his nightshirt tugged by a small but forceful hand and nearly dropped what he was holding in the process.
"What ya doing?" Four year old Audra asked sleepily in a voice which suggested she was half-way between the land of nod and waking. The deep yawn that accompanied it suggested the land of nod was winning, but she was a stubborn little thing and resisting it. She tugged again and threw Heath off-balance.
"Sshh, not so loud. They'll hear you and you'll get us into trouble. You're suppose to be asleep."
"So are you!"
Still holding on to Heath's nightshirt Audra peered through the banister and looked down on the scene below. Lots of pretty ladies dressed up in fine dresses, just like her dolls and dancing with men in black suits.
"Oh, pretty," she said , her eyes memorized by the swirls of dresses and her little ears listening to the music playing.
"I guess. If you like that kind of thing," Heath said absentmindedly, more interested in the task in hand. If he could just line it up a bit more..a bit more..a bit more. "Perfect," he uttered, a satisfied smile sweeping across his face.
Again Audra proved his nemesis. "What ya going to do with that, Heath?" Just as quickly as it had been found the moment was lost.
"Ahh Audra. Just stand still for a moment, will ya?"
She looked at him dolefully, her hand still gripping his nightshirt. He was beginning to feel a breeze down below but chose to ignore it. She didn't have her comfort blanket and his nightshirt was proving the next best thing. "Boy Howdy!" he thought, "The things a brother has to do!" Still he wouldn't swap her for a thing. It was nice having a family and nice being an older brother too. He felt rather good at it.
Not to be put off from his mission he lined up his target in his sights for a second time. "Steady, steady, just a bit more. That's it!" He let the water balloon fall. Right on target it hit his 12 year old brother, Nick, just as the smartly dressed young gentleman, attending his first "grown up party", was about to hand a glass of fruit cordial to his young lady friend.
"Young lady friend indeed," thought Heath, "Why it's only Becky Ann from school. Nick had been acting ga-ga over her since she joined last September. Over a girl of all things! Wouldn't catch me going ga ga over a girl!"
Heath's infectious giggle could be heard all the way down the curved stairway as Nick, drenched, turned three different shades of puce and went to run up the stairs after his fast retreating brother, little sister in tow, nightshirt still gripped in her hand.
"Nicholas," Victoria Barkley admonished her son. "Remember that tonight you are a young gentleman and Heath is still a child. Now go upstairs and dry yourself off. Then remember to get back to your guest."
"Yes Mother," Nick said, smiling through gritted teeth. He walked up the stairs slowly until reaching half-way he could see his mother was no longer watching. "Now I got ya Heath Barkley!"