In a small neighborhood, like the one you live in, were people on bikes, people on swings, and people making mud pies. Some of these people were parents watching their kids play, some were teenagers getting ready for the prom, and some were grandparents walking their dogs. And that’s where Mrs. Beckett lived.
Mrs. Beckett lived in the little red house right behind the elementary school where she taught. Now, Mrs. Beckett never had children, but she loved her students as her own, and would babysit her great nieces and nephews. But, her nieces and nephews were all older now, and though she still saw them from time to time, Mrs. Beckett felt lonely. She filled her time the best she could, and spent many an afternoon out in the front yard gardening and planting beautiful flowers that made all the neighbors ooh and ahh as they passed by.
One day, Mrs. Beckett was reaching down to pull out the peskiest weed growing near her flower bed when a shadow appeared and blocked the sun. Mrs. Beckett looked up, and saw her former student, Ethan Torres on his red bike alongside his father, Mr. Torres.
“Why, hello, Ethan. How are you?” Mrs. Beckett asked.
“I’m good. Mrs. Beckett…” Ethan’s expression didn’t match his answer. She watched as the towheaded boy glanced up towards his father. “… Um, Dad has something he wanted to ask you.”
Mrs. Beckett stood up, and adjusted her sun hat. “Okay, what can I help you with?” It was then that she noticed Mr. Torres was wearing a suit.
“Well,” Mr. Torres said, “my wife and I were planning on going out tonight, but the babysitter cancelled on us last minute, and we were wondering if you could possibly sit with the kids tonight while we’re out?”
Mrs. Beckett looked from Mr. Torres to her garden, and then back.
“I know it’s short notice, but we would really appreciate it if you could. And I know the kids would love you for it, too. You’re honestly one of the best teachers Ethan and Josh have ever had.”
Mrs. Beckett moved a gray strand of hair away from her face. She had forgotten Ethan had a little brother. She felt sorry for Mr. Torres, and she had missed the evenings spent reading stories and playing games with her sister’s children, so she smiled and agreed. “I’d be happy to help.”
“Thank you so much!” Mr. Torres said with a smile. “Our children will love you, just like E here!” And with that, he walked briskly to the yellow house next door where they lived to tell his wife the news.
Mrs. Beckett laughed and looked at Ethan. “I guess it’s been a while since they’ve gotten away?”
“More than a while!” Ethan said as they approached the Torres’s driveway.
As Ethan laid his bike down by the sidewalk, the two walked up the porch stairs, but Mrs. Torres, wearing a green evening dress, appeared before either could open the front door.
“Oh thank you so much, Mrs. Beckett! You saved the day!” Mrs. Torres said, as she motioned her husband outside. “Come on!”
After saying a final “Thank You” to Mrs. Beckett, Mr. and Mrs. Torres hopped in the family car and backed out of the driveway.
“Remember,” Mrs. Torres yelled from the driver’s side window. “You and Bryan cannot play video games until your homework is done!”
“Yes, ma’am.” Ethan yelled back, waving as his parents disappeared down the road.
Mrs. Beckett was confused. “So, you have two brothers?”
Ethan nodded. “Yep.”
Mrs. Beckett and Ethan entered the house. She saw Josh sitting on the couch eating potato chips.
“Hi Mrs. Beckett.” Josh said with a full mouth.
The brunette turned his head toward Mrs. Beckett. “Are you our new babysitter?”
Mrs. Beckett nodded. “Yep, just for tonight, though. Your other sitter couldn’t make it.”
Josh began laughing, then shouted, “SAM!!!”
The pitter patter of feet were heard next as a little boy Josh’s age came running down the stairs. His hair matched Ethan’s. “What?”
“It worked!” Josh said, smiling. “We scared the other babysitter. She’s not coming back.”
“Yay!” Sam cheered.
Mrs. Beckett’s eyes narrowed with suspicion. “Are you boys allowed to have friends over when your parents are away?”
“No.” The boys said.
“Then shouldn’t you go home?” Mrs. Beckett asked Sam.
“I am home.” Sam said, then ran back upstairs.
Mrs. Beckett’s head was racing. She began to question what she had signed up for. As she opened her mouth to ask Josh what Sam meant, she heard a cabinet door creak open.
“Ethan!” Mrs. Beckett said, as the blonde boy attempted to silently set up his X-Box. “What are you doing? Your mom said no games!”
Ethan put the game system back and grumbled. “Fine.” He started upstairs.
Mrs. Beckett was still trying to figure out who the Sam kid was when she heard an ear piercing scream. She raced upstairs and found a little girl who seemed to be six or seven, holding a wet back pack by the zipper. Another girl, older than Ethan suddenly appeared and tried her best to console the younger one.
“What is going on?” Mrs. Beckett asked, both as a question to their identities and to the story behind the wet back pack.
The older girl turned to Mrs. Beckett. “Erica didn’t clean her room today, so Mom told her she couldn’t use her iPad tonight. Now she’s trying to run away. Except on her way out the bathroom window, she dropped her bag in the toilet.”
“Oh,” Mrs. Beckett said, as if it made perfect sense. Then she shook her head as she came back to her senses. “Wait, what? Who are you?”
“I’m Maya,” the older girl said.
Another small girl came into the hallway. “Erica, I’ve decided that if you’re running away, I’m running away, too.”
Mrs. Beckett quickly pulled off her glasses and cleaned them with the edge of her shirt. She was seeing double. The little girls shared the same dark hair, noses, and now the same side eye.
“Nuh uh, Hope! You are not!” The older girl said. “And Erica, you better clean this mess up before they get back!”
Before Mrs. Beckett could ask Maya why they were all in the Torres’s house, she heard a melody coming from downstairs. She recognized it as the intro to a Batman video game her sister’s kids used to play. She quickly went back down the stairs.
“Josh! I told you you’d get caught!” Yet another girl was now in the living room. This one was Ethan’s age, and except for the fact that she was a girl, looked exactly like him.
“Shut up, Luna!” Josh yelled.
The girl, who Mrs. Beckett now knew was named Luna stuck her tongue out at Josh. “Na na na na na! Mrs. Beckett’s gonna tell on you and then you’ll be grounded!”
Mrs. Beckett leaned against the wall, lifting her hands to her forehead. “Why did I agree to this?” She thought to herself.
A crash sounded from the kitchen. Mrs. Beckett immediately left the commotion going on in the living room to investigate the noise. She was shocked to find Sam standing in the middle of the kitchen covered in flour.
“What are you doing?” Mrs. Beckett asked.
Sam swatted away the flour from his face, so that his blue eyes appeared. He looked like a ghost. “They got me.”
Mrs. Beckett crossed her arms. “Who got you?”
Sam reached down to the floor and grabbed a note buried in the flour. He cleared his throat as he read, “Dear Sam, nice try. I’ve moved all the Easter candy to a place where no one will ever find it.” Sam shrugged his shoulders. “Oh, well.” He began to walk off.
Mrs. Beckett had had enough. “Wait just a minute, Sam!” But, before the words left her mouth, the back door flew open.
“That’s it!” An older boy began as he lead a crew of four youngsters covered in mud into the house. “I told you no worm hunting tonight, and you didn’t listen. So, we’re staying inside!”
The leader of the four pack began to wail, and tears ran down his face. “But, Bryan, you promised! Me and Joey just wanted to start a collection!”
“No I didn’t, Julien!” The one named Joey said, as she wiped mud from her eyes. “I wasn’t even muddy until you gave my rock collection to your worms! Brayden can tell you! He was right there!”
The one named Brayden piped up. “Yeah, Joey and I worked hard for those rocks! And all you and Brianna did was mess it up!”
It was then that Julien charged at Brayden, and all four of the mud people fell into a pile on the floor.
“Stop it!” The older boy yelled, but the younger kids refused to listen. Their fighting kept on until the rest of the kids in the house gathered in the kitchen to see what was going on.
“THAT’S ENOUGH!” Mrs. Beckett yelled.
The house fell silent. Frazzled, Mrs. Beckett looked at the slew of children who stood before her in disbelief. She tried to figure up the number of children in total who were in the kitchen, but she lost count.
Mrs. Beckett closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Finally she found the strength to continue and looked straight at Josh. “Look, I don’t know what’s going on here, but you need to ask your friend Sam to go home so we can get to the bottom of this.”
“Ethan!” Mrs. Beckett said, motioning for the boy to come forward. “I thought you said you only had two brothers?”
Ethan laughed. “No I didn’t. You asked me if I had two brothers and I said yes. Because there are three of us. But there’s also four of us. But I guess in all there’s twelve of us.”
Mrs. Beckett put her hands on her hips in disbelief. “… There’s how many?”
This time, all the kids spoke up. “Twelve.”
Before Mrs. Beckett could ask anymore questions, Joey, one of the muddy people, began to explain further. “Yeah, and did you know, Bryan and Maya are twins, and Ethan and Luna are twins, and Josh and Sam are twinses, and Erica and Hope are twinses, and me and Brianna are twinses, and Julien and Brayden are twinses?”
“No we’re not.” Brianna said. “Me, you, Julien, and Brayden are quadriceps.”
Sam and Josh rolled their eyes and said together, “You mean, ‘quadruplets’.”
The kitchen was quiet. Mrs. Beckett was shocked. She kept looking back and forth again and again between them all. The click of the front door opening was the only thing that broke her attention from the mass of kids before her.
“Mommy!!” A muddy Brianna yelled, running straight into her mother’s crisp clean evening dress. Her identical sister, Mrs. Beckett, and the rest of the crew filed behind little Brianna in the living room.
“Daddy just forgot his wallet.” Mrs. Torres explained, giving Mr. Torres an unimpressed look. “We’re leaving again as soon as he finds it.”
Mr. Torres returned his wife’s disapproving glare with a smirk, then turned to Mrs. Beckett. “Well, while I’m searching for it, how’s it going? And, by the way… Would you be able to babysit again tomorrow night? Bryan’s school is having an Open House Night.”
In an instant, Mrs. Beckett fainted. Bryan and Myra were just in time to catch her before she hit the floor. Worry filled the room as the family hovered over Mrs. Beckett. After moving Mrs. Beckett to the couch, she finally woke up. The family huddled over her.
Joey became hysterical. “Daddy! You killed Mrs. Wreck It!”
“Mrs. Beckett!” Her siblings corrected her.
After a few minutes, Mrs. Beckett came to. “Where am I?”
One of the mud covered people came to her side. “Well, Daddy was asking if you would baby sit again, and then you fell asleep. Do you do that all the time?”
“What?” Mrs. Beckett asked.
The flour covered Sam emerged from the crowd. “You heard her. Dad asked if you could baby sit again.” He grinned suspiciously. “Come on… It would be fun!”
Before she could speak, Mrs. Beckett’s eyes went cross and her head hit the couch with a thud.