Mike and Clarissa were silently crying against the wall as Tony sat crisscross in front of them rocking back and forth, chanting "children never die, children never die." This has never happened to any of them, not even in the scariest movies that they sneaked out of their rooms in the middle hours of the night to watch as their older siblings fell asleep. Mike was the youngest. He was not sure what was happening, but Clarissa was crying. He had to cry if Clarissa was crying. She never cried.

     Clarissa was the sister Mike never had. Tony was the oldest, he was going to kindergarten after this summer. He was the leader of the pack. He knew how to control the situation. He always knew when a tree was "climbable," the branches fell just right and the other two sometimes could not perceive it; and then he would climb. He would always know a new outdoor game, he always had the confidence to make his own game, his own rules. He always led them on adventures, and always found the way home when the other two were sure they were lost, and he did it all before dinner time. He always knew everything.            

     But now the two men in black were outside ransacking the room as Tony looked out through his one strip of light between the closet doors and Tony could see no way to get Mike and Clarissa home for dinner. He saw no way out. His dad never lied down like that, that's how he knew. He had no way out, no plan, all Tony knew now was that children never die. That was the only thing keeping him from breaking out crying. In his brother's movies all he remembers is what he saw outside now-two men screaming, blood, his parents lifeless. The way his moms arm fell towards the closet they were in, pointing, trying to grab them and defend them, helplessly. That seemed out of one of the movies. The scene that played out now proved those movies are real, and the movies proved that children never died.            

     The men in black seemed unorganized, haphazardly throwing everything they wanted into duffle bags they had. Blood started pooling around Tony's parents like islands surrounding them, only showing how helpless he was to get to them, isolated, how defenseless he was. This wasn't supposed to happen in real life.

     Outside the men seemed to stop taking things. They walked quickly from room to room checking if they forgot anything. Mike fell asleep, but Clarissa grew louder in her crying. Tony should have quieted her. He didn't know he had to do that though. He didn't know they were hiding. The shorter of the two men came into the room for another final check and he heard that faint crying. At first he thought it was an iPod or a phone, something of value to him maybe. But no, it was nothing, he would soon discontentedly discover it was only three kids.  

     He quickly slammed open the closet. Light flashed on the kids. Tony's back against the far wall, Clarissa on the side and Mike on her shoulder. The four awake baby eyes turned to the man and Tony's eyes finally grew watery. Clarissa knew Tony didn't cry. She knew something was really wrong and only Tony understood what was happening. But he knew it would be okay because children never die. The man in black closed the door and never said anything else for as long as he was in Tony's view.

     The two men spread a sort of water from a red container all over the walls and furniture. They spent extra time washing the bodies with this liquid. Clarissa was happy they were cleaning up and it would finally be over. After some screaming between the men the children heard the front door slam. They heard the car start outside like it does when Tony's dad takes his older brother to school in the morning. He recognized that car, it was his parent's car. Now the kids smelt what they thought was Sunday afternoon when they watch their fathers start a barbeque and smell that rich smoke. Rich smoke, that’s what they smelt.

     Tony could only wonder where his brother was and whether he was okay. Clarissa was already asleep now. Tony had to lay down, he was getting sleepy. It seemed brighter outside. His view blurred. He kept whispering " children never die, children never die." he was hoping Mike an Clarissa were in happier places now, dreaming of their adventures. Tony was sure they would go back to those adventures when they woke up. Everything would be better once they all woke up. Sleep just did that somehow. That was another thing Tony didn't understand, but he just knew. And he would tell Mike and Clarissa and they realized it too, because Tony was always right.

     He fell asleep as the outside became brighter. It would be okay though because children never died, he whispered one last time before he fell asleep as the room became the brightest ever, "children never die." 


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