"Mia," I said. "I don't want to go out today. There probably isn't even a carnival around here. Let's just stay inside."

"But I know there's one!" said Mia.

I didn't doubt it. Mia has a way of making the world do exactly what she wanted it to. But I was her brother, not the world, so I adjusted my pillow and kept my eyes on my book.

"I don't feel like it today," I said.

"Aww, come oooooon," she said. "I wanna go outside. Inside is booooring." Outside, a light rain began to fall, and I could hear it pattering on the roof, and on the neighbors' cars.

I snuggled up a little more into my blanket. "I'm not bored. I'm fine right here."

"You're no fun anymore," she said. She crossed her arms and pouted. Outside, the rain fell harder. The wind picked up, and I could hear the branches of trees start smashing together.

"Go make some friends," I said. I meant it. She's created friends before.

"I don't want to make friends, I want to go to a carnival."

"Draw a picture of one," I said.

"That's not the same!"

"You making it rain out there just makes me want to stay inside more," I said.

The rain and wind stopped immediately.

"Fine!" She said. "I'm going by myself, and you can't stop me."

"'Kay," I said, going back to my book. "Have fun."

She made a wordless, angry noise and stormed out of my room. I heard her stomp through the house, and heard the front door downstairs slam shut.

Then, almost immediately, I heard her throw it open again and stomp back inside.

"Fine!" she yelled from downstairs. "I'll make my own carnival, and you're not invited!"

"Okay!" I called, drawing out the "ayyy" to annoy her.

I heard her scrabbling around, going up to her room a few times, then carrying-- and dropping-- things downstairs.

If she makes a mess, I thought, I'm not going to help her clean it up.

Then, it got quiet, and I read my book in peace.

* * * * *

An hour later I looked up from the pages, bleary-eyed, and noticed that I was thirsty. I yawned and set the book aside and went downstairs for some water.

In the kitchen, Mia's art supplies were strewn over the dining table. Markers, boxes of crayons, stacks of printer paper-- all of this left haphazardly splayed out, as though she'd been stopped suddenly in the middle of things.

"Mia?" I said. I peeked in the living room. "Mia? You didn't clean up your mess."



I tried the bathroom, and then the back yard, and still she was nowhere to be found.

I went back to the kitchen and looked through her drawings. Most of them were scribbled over, like she'd made a mistake and tried to scratch it out of existence, but there was one that looked done. Although I could tell she spent a lot of time on it, it was scribbly drawing, full of color. It looked like she'd used every marker and crayon and color pencil, all layered over each other, and it depicted a carnival. I could see colorful tents, and a ferris wheel, and merry go round with blobby animals, and in the middle of it all, by some food stand, I could see a little stick figure of Mia.

"Mia," I said. "Can You hear me? You have to clean up your mess when you're done."

I waited a moment for something to happen. Nothing did.

"You can't just ignore me. I'm not cleaning this up."

Slowly, a small speech bubble appeared above the little stick-Mia's head.

I'll do it later.

"Just so long as you do it before mom comes home," I said.

The speech bubble vanished, but nothing else replaced it. I shrugged it off and went to get that glass of water, and when I returned to the drawing, stick-Mia wasn't by the food stand anymore, she was sitting in one of the ferris wheel carriages, with a cartoonishly large ice-cream cone.

The speech bubble reappeared and said, Jealous?

"Nope," I lied.

I took my glass, and went back upstairs to my book.

It was a quiet afternoon.


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