“Lottie, it’s New Year’s Eve,” Dad said. “We’re going to stay up until midnight!”
“Really?” Lottie asked. Her normal bedtime was eight o’clock. “How late is midnight?”
“Twelve o’clock,” said Mom. “You’ll be staying up four hours extra. Do you think you want to take a little nap now?”
“No. Naps are for babies,” Lottie said. “I can help with the puzzle.”
Lottie helped with the puzzle until it got too boring. She ate chips and watched a movie. At first staying up was exciting. But then she started to feel tired. She yawned.
“You can’t be tired yet, Lottie,” Dad said. “We still have three hours to go.”
“I’m not tired,” Lottie said. She was tired. Her eyes started closing on their own. It got harder and harder to open them and stay awake.
“Don’t go to sleep. You’re almost there. Just a little over two hours, Lottie,” Mom said.
Lottie suddenly felt suspicious. Her parents were always telling her to go to bed. Why did they want her to stay up now? It didn’t make sense. Maybe these weren’t her real parents.
Lottie felt a little less tired. She needed to find her real parents and rescue them. She started to search the house.
“What are you doing?” Her maybe-not-real-mom asked.
“I’m looking for something,” Lottie said.
“What are you looking for?” Her maybe-not-real-dad asked.
“It’s a secret,” Lottie said.
“Just stay out of our room,” Maybe-not-real-mom said.
Aha! Of course they’d hide her real parents in the one place she normally wouldn’t look. Her real parents wouldn’t mind if she went in their room just this once. They’d want Lottie to save them from the not-real-parents.
Lottie looked in other places until the not-real-parents lost interest. Then she opened the door and snuck into her parents’ room. She looked under the bed. Boring. No people. She looked in the closets. Nope. She checked the bathroom. Empty.
Lottie looked out the window. It was too dark to check outside. She carefully closed the bedroom door and went back downstairs. She needed more information.
“What happens at midnight?” Lottie asked.
“It will be a new year,” Maybe-not-real-mom said.
“It’s so much fun, Lottie,” maybe-not-real-dad said. “We’ll bang pots and pans together and yell and make lots of noise!”
“In the middle of the night?” Lottie asked.
“That’s right,” maybe-not-real-dad said.
That confirmed her worst suspicions. These couldn’t be her real parents. They’d never tell her to stay up late and make lots of noise at night. She wasn’t supposed to bang pots together or yell in the house in the middle of the day.
“Hmmmm,” Lottie said. She tried to look like her normal self. She was feeling tired again, but she didn’t want to fall asleep around the not-real-parents. She looked around.
She could squeeze in behind the couch. She went to her bedroom and got her blanket and pillow. She started to crawl backwards, pulling them in behind her.
“Lottie, what are you doing?” Not-mom asked.
“I’m going to sleep,” Lottie said.
“But you’ll miss the New Year!” Not-dad said.
“I don’t care. I’m going to sleep now,” Lottie said.
“All right, if you’re sure,” Not-mom said.
She would find her real parents in the morning. They couldn’t be hidden far away. Maybe they’d come back on their own. Maybe the not-parents were going away at midnight, and if she was awake they’d take her too. All the more reason to fall asleep now.
As she drifted off, she heard Not-dad say, “But she’s always wanting to stay up late.”
“Kids are so funny,” Not-mom replied. “Sometimes I wonder what she’s thinking.”