“So . . . you guys like sports? Wanna shoot a couple baskets?” Caleb asked. The rest of the Robinson family had just left for the mall. Tara cocked an eyebrow and glanced at Theo. “Bet!” he grinned. “Great! I’ll grab the ball and meet you at the driveway.” Caleb said, dashing away. Tara frowned as she trailed behind Theo. The hot sun reflected off the white pavement. Wavy mirages rose from the road. “I bet I could roast a frog out here,” Tara muttered. “Hey, don’t go killing frogs. They eat the mosquitoes that you hate.” Theo elbowed her. “Fine. I’ll roast a grasshopper instead. They’re too noisy.” A smile flickered across her face.
“Catch!” Caleb tossed the basketball out the garage door. Tara automatically jumped up and grabbed the ball. They did a few warm-up shots and passes.
“Let’s play a real game now. Boys against girls.” Theo said. “No fair! There’s only one of me and two of you. Twins against Caleb.” Tara protested. “You know what? Everyone for themselves. First one to ten baskets wins.” Caleb said.
“Whoever catches this will get the first turn.” Caleb threw the ball high into the air. Tara ran forward, eyes locked on the ball. It thudded into her arms and then bounced away. Theo grabbed it and dribbled it towards the basketball hoop. Caleb scrambled after him, swiped the ball away and tossed it into the hoop. “Yeah!” he laughed. “Don’t celebrate too early.” Tara grinned and lobbed the ball away from him.
The game continued, the competition becoming fiercer. By half-time, Caleb had 7 baskets and Tara had 6. Theo had 4. “Let’s have a lemonade break!” Caleb panted. “Tired already?” Tara teased. “You guys are good. I haven’t played this hard for a while.” Caleb riposted. “Let’s get that lemonade. I’m parched.” Theo said. “Alright!” Caleb jogged inside. Tara sank down on the concrete step and wiped sweat from her forehead. A small smile curved her lips. “Here you are, guys,” Caleb called, handing them cool glasses of lemonade. Tara took a gulp and then burped. “Oops.” She blushed, covering her mouth. The boys laughed. Theo began burping “Jingle Bells.” “Oh no! Don’t start.” Tara groaned. Caleb joined him. When the song was finished, they took exaggerated bows. “Hmm . . .I can’t hear any applause. Does that mean we need to do an encore?” Theo joshed. “You guys are morons.” Tara snickered. The children lapsed into silence. Cicadas buzzed and a cardinal trilled.
“So . . . what’s it like living with many foster parents?” Caleb asked curiously. The light disappeared from Tara’s face, and her eyes became shuttered. Theo draped his arm around her shoulders and stared defiantly at Caleb. “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.” He added quickly. “It was crazy.” Tara gave a hollow laugh. “Yeah. We even got a whole book the size of a dictionary on ’How to tick off Foster parents.’” Theo added. “It’s actually quite fun. Like a social experiment.” Tara chipped in. “You should try it sometime,” Theo said, straight-faced. Caleb tilted his head and furrowed his brow. “Okaayyy?” Tara and Theo looked at each other and burst out laughing. “You . . . should have seen . . . your face!” Tara gasped and collapsed into more giggles. “Yeah. I was joking. A good guy like you would never even think about making your parents mad.” Theo snickered. But bitterness flashed across his face. “Uhh…do you want to get back to the game?” Caleb asked, shifting from foot to foot. “No thanks,” Tara said. “Yeah. I think I’ll go watch a movie or something.” Theo said before heading back inside. Caleb sighed.