The New Kids
The new kids looked just like the old kids except their skin was bright yellow. Dan, the insurance agent, said not to worry.
"Eventually it will fade," he said. "You won't know the difference."
But the new Billy had a persistent cough the old Billy never had. And the new Maggie never stopped crying and mewling, "I miss my mommy."
"I'm your mommy," said Mrs. L, but she didn't sound convinced.
The new Billy liked to play with fire trucks, while the old Billy liked to light fires. In this way, the new Billy was an improvement. The new Maggie never shrieked or hit mommy's cell phone on the kitchen tiles or held it under the faucet "to see if it would float."
Still, Mrs. L missed the old Billy and Maggie. It was strange to see these new children glowing at the kitchen table, strange to serve scrambled eggs to children who looked suspiciously like they were made from scrambled eggs themselves.
Maggie mewled, "My mommy doesn't put these green things in her scrambled eggs."
"What? The parsley? That's good for you, Maggie. And I've always put them in your eggs. Always . . . "
She laughed nervously.
Mr. L brought Billy outside to play basketball in the driveway.
"Show my your jump shot, Billy," he said.
Billy took the ball.
"What's a jump shot?"
Mr. L gulped.
"What, Billy? Don't be joking around. Of course you know what a jump shot is."
One day, the old Billy returned. The new Billy didn't know where to sit at school. Mrs. Thompson had him stand in the corner. Mrs. L picked up her children at three o'clock.
"Hello, Billy," she said. "Hello, Billy. Maggie, why don't you take the front, darling? Let the boys sit together in back."
Mr. L came home from work early.
He was on the phone with Dan.
"There's been some kind of mix up . . . It turns out that one of our kids didn't . . . on the camping trip . . . (sob) . . . Billy . . . No, Maggie is still . . . You tell me! I know it's not your fault. I'm sorry for raising my voice but there are two . . . (whisper) there are two of them . . . What do you usually do when . . . No! I don't mean that . . . but . . . do you?"