“I didn’t do it!” Exclaimed Mario.

“I didn’t want that to happen,” complained Septen.

“What’s going on?”  Demanded The Mother.

“Oh!  Somebody’s in trouble,” giggled Pyreena.

“Somebody better clean up this mess before I get back!” Thundered The DAD as he stomped out the door.

“Well, children,” Mother said softly. “I guess you have a project to work on.”

“NO!” Shrieked Pyreena, who believed herself to be innocent, even when she wasn’t.

“Where did Dogger go?” Asked Septen, looking around.

“Don’t blame it on him.” Mario said cautiously.

“All I know is,” said Mother. “There will be no dessert, no movies and no watching anything interesting until this is all cleaned up.  And, you don’t have all week.  Dad will be back by nightfall.” She turned and left.

“NO!” Shrieked Pyreena, before she began sobbing.

“It looks like you won’t get out of it this time, Miss Princess.”

“I…”  Pyreena gulped as she wiped her tear-streaked face.

“There’ve been many times when you’ve made us pay. You can either help us, or we’ll leave you to do it all yourself.  I’ve cleaned up many messes I didn’t make,” said Mario. “Here.” He gave her a rag.

With trembling hands, Pyreena took it. She looked at it, bewildered.

“Where’s Dogger?” Septen asked.

“Forget Dogger.” Mario stated emphatically. “Get to work.” He was down on his knees already.

Septen looked around again, not willing to comply, but knowing he had no choice, not this time anyway.

“Look at it this way,” Mario offered. “We now have some time together. We might even remember this as a good time.”

Pyreena stuck out her tongue at her big brother.

“That’s fine for you missy!” Mario exclaimed, then took aim and squirted her from her head to her middle.

“OH!” She shriek and jumped back.

“He’s just helping you wash off your face,” offered Septen. “Here’s a dry rag,” he consoled as he 

tossed it to her.

“Oh.” Pyreena slumpt down to the floor, the mess there forgotten. She caught the rag and began to dry her face and patted at her shirt.

Slowly, Pyreena began to see her brothers less as targets to pick on, but as possible co-conspirators. There had been many, many times when she had gotten them into trouble. Their parents had always believed her. She had thought it was fun. They could be taking revenge now, but they weren’t. Maybe they could be friends. Maybe if she was friends first….? She began cleaning too.

Septen knew he shouldn’t have let Dogger in, but he’d looked so sad. Now, he’d gone hiding. Dogger couldn’t have cleaned up anything anyway. Septen sighed and bent to work.

Mario was really tired of cleaning up after the others. He’d been doing it for years, yet he now continued working. What can I do to get out of all this? He wondered. And, when?

Mother peeked in, unobtrusively, to investigate the unusual level of silence. She saw the three working together on the mess and smiled. She then returned and began making their special dessert.

Dad was thinking seriously. Mario shouldn’t have to clean up for the others all the time. He needed his own space and time; his own accomplishments. What can I do about that?

Bad Dogger, bad Dogger, bad Dogger, bad Dogger, bad Dogger, bad Dogger, bad…  Dogger huddled in the smallest place he could find and shuddered at all the anger he’d caused.

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