We are making cookies.

It is three in the afternoon and my brother Arnold is pulling out milk and eggs and butter.  My sister Cara is flipping through the cookbook, and I am sitting on the counter with a cookie sheet on my lap as I watch the low storm clouds brush through the tops of our trees and listen to the nearing thunder.

Cara says she wants to make lemon drop cookies but Arnold is pulling out the chocolate chips and I’m shaking my head at Cara.  She sighs dramatically for a long time before flipping to a well-worn and marked up page.

She doesn’t have to.  We know that page by heart.

I’m swinging my legs, softly thumping my feet into the drawers below me.  The colors outside are dark and rich, and there’s something about this kind of weather that makes it easier for me to breathe.  We’re all supposed to be doing something else, Cara has math homework and Arnold has science reading and I’m supposed to be cleaning my room; but Daddy’s at work and Mommy has errands and the afternoon is endless with time.

Cara puts a little butter on the sheet I’m holding, and I start spreading it so the cookies don’t stick.  I’m humming my favorite song, my feet thumping a little harder against the drawers beneath me.  Arnold is already measuring the chocolate chips, and even though he knows the recipe by heart, he’s adding a whole fourth of a cup extra.

The trees outside start rustling with wind, their leaves shaking and branches bending.  I pretend the trees are waving at me, and I smile at them.  When the sun comes back out I will go out and look for treasures they might drop during the coming storm.  Cara says sometimes they drop magic beads.  She’s found four of them, and gave two of them to me.  She says they chase away bad dreams.

Arnold says that’s a bunch of rot, and that I should chase away the bad dreams myself.

I’m printing my name and drawing shapes in butter on the sheet.  Cara carefully measures out the liquids and lets Arnold crack the eggs.  He gets little pieces of eggshell in the bowl, but it doesn’t matter because the extra chocolate will cover it.

At least, that’s what Arnold says.

The first big raindrops start splattering on the ground.  I look up from the cookie sheet as lightning flashes outside.  Thunder chases the flash, and Cara growls with it as if she is also a part of the storm.

I wonder if that’s what she does to her bad dreams, if she chases them off growling.  I don’t think I could do that.  I think I’d rather chase them off with a big stick.

But only if Cara’s beads aren’t really magic.

More raindrops are coming down, and I watch the trees carefully to see if I can catch them dropping a magic bead.  Cara mixes the cookie batter and Arnold shows me how to hold the sheet flat and I’m wondering if tonight I will dream of dancing with the trees.

We’re supposed to be doing other things, but the afternoon is endless and the kitchen is ours and other things can wait.

Thunder fades away as rain pours down, and together, we are making cookies.

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