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Orphans and Mud Cakes

Sarah Groh

We gave our lives a plot.

We were orphans, we were runaways, we were heroes. We escaped the evil
orphanage keeper, the countess, the kidnappers...we were always on the run. We were built of troublesome imaginations.

Six boys, six girls, and twelve wild minds gathered between the pews after
church, in the basement on Friday nights, on the back deck on summer

We sifted dirt for flour and added water to make bread. Adding more water
and leaves, we made stew. We cooked for those who enslaved us, the sick,
for our starving siblings.

The younger ones pretended to be old; the older ones pretended to be young. We tried to please the demanding countess, poison the orphanage keeper, and cover our tracks as our enemies pursued, inspired by storybooks, by cartoons, by thin air.

One of us was always sick. Two of us were always twins. Some of us were
always kidnapped. When the twelve of us were together, nothing would stop
us—except the call to come upstairs for dinner, the platter of fresh
sliced watermelon on the picnic table, or heavy footsteps on the basement
steps at the end of the evening, inspiring dramatized groans.

And then one day, our age.

There was a last time we played orphanage (the time all the boys called
themselves Benji, driving the girls to an irreversible annoyance), the year
some of us learned in school Nazis didn’t chase people around the way we’d
imagined, and that there was more to baking bread than sunning mud cakes.
We traded Pretend for the more realistic Future.

While some of us chose to play cornhole over Orphanage and card games
instead of House, some of us never grew out of our childish games full of
plot twists, never stopped our foolish adventures.

We started writing.

Sarah Groh is a nursing student at student at Cedarville University. She enjoys writing, reading, art, and running. She has been published in  Cedarville University's anthology An Idea of an Essay.

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