Oliver and Eve strolled through the field, with an anticipation in their step that led them through the tall sage and muddy-yellowed grass encasing their path, as distant laughs of other children echoed in the warm breeze. Colorful eggs covered the ground, bushes, trees, and the little nooks and crannies of the church playground. Kids ran with their ribbon embellished weave baskets, stopping on occasion to pick up a plastic capsule, then shake it to ensure themselves of the contents inside, before placing it in their basket.
Slightly older than the rest, Oliver and Eve’s synchronized pace was much more rhythmic and relaxed, stepping with the right foot first to their destination.
“Remember that tree?” Eve asked her older brother.
“We used to climb it after every Sunday school lesson.”
“I miss those days,” He reminisced. “I wonder if things would have been different now if dad hadn’t left us,”
The two siblings passed the small climbing tree, reliving forgotten childhood memories that were lost after their life changed for the worse. After their father’s sudden departure with no explanation, the state of their mother spiraled into a drug-littered chaos, leaving the twins to rely on one another. As they approached the hidden clearing, obscured by evergreen trees and bushes, the twin’s step slowed to a halt.
“Our Secret Hideout.” Oliver stated to the thicket of varying greens, as if he were a king announcing to his people that their rulers had arrived after a long journey.
“Welcome back, Your Highness.” Eve responded with an exaggerated gesture of the arm, playing along with her brother’s act, just like they used to when they were younger. Young and free, when naivety and innocence ruled their minds and imagined places became real. The tall tree’s tangled limbs greeted the twin’s entrance, branches paving the way for their long lost gardeners. Entering the clearing was like walking into a time machine. Nothing had changed since Olive and Eve had left their hideout several years ago. The tree with long branches and short, small pine needles, deemed “the lookout tree” still had the same sap-spilling stub on the bottom, used as a platform to start the kid’s climb up. Several groups of small sticks and rocks on the dirt floor indicated the remains of Eve’s fairy houses, although they lacked the usual assortment of leaves and flowers adorning the structures. A muddy ditch, dug up by Oliver previously, still resided at the base of the lookout tree, although it looked smaller to him now. Everything was the same- except one thing. It caught Eve’s attention first, as she exclaimed,
The older brother turned his attention from their “broom”, a branch that had fallen down from the lookout tree, used for cleaning the hideout of debris, to the bright object that Eve was pointing to. An olive green easter egg, about the size of a large pine cone, lay in the middle of Oliver’s ditch, the plasticy sheen still present. It looked as if the egg had been placed not more than an hour before the sibling’s arrival. Eve bent down to pick the egg up, and shook it next to her ear. Her hopes of finding something nice were brought to a halt when a lack of sound was produced from the egg.
“Let me see it.” said Oliver, reaching out his hand to hold the egg.
Eve placed it in his hand, and watched Oliver pry the plastic oblong sphere open. After a momentary struggle, the green egg opened with a loud POP!, spilling the contents onto the thicket floor. Ten $100 bills now lay at the sibling’s feet, their jaws dropping as they froze in shock and awe of their circumstances. Exclamation and chatters of excitement erupted in the clearing of Oliver and Eve’s secret hideout, their loud cheers jolting the formerly peaceful onlookers of birds observing the event, into a frenzy of wings that dissipated as quickly as their initial sock. At the side of the entrance to the secret hideout stood a tall man, leaning on another evergreen tree that veiled his appearance to the kids. His gentle eyes glistened with tears, face hardening into a shell, as he placed his now empty wallet into his left pocket.