My family has a leap day box- we fill it up with photos and memories, placing it on the top shelf of the kitchen cupboards for four years. My brothers and I absolutely love looking through it, come February 29th!
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Nick 'Carbo' Karandonis smiled in his sleep, oblivious to the world around him, rolling over and snuggling closer to his teddy bear. Ben Rafter, on the other hand, wanted him awake.
"Mate", he said softly, smacking him on the shoulder. "Mate, wake up..."
Carbo was dead to the world.
"Mate... mate! Carbo! Mate, wake up!"
"Mmm..." once more, Carbo rolled over.
So Ben grabbed him by the feet, yanking him off the bed. With a thud, Carbo fell to the floor, his sleep ridden eyes darting around the room. Ever since he was a child, he had an overactive imagination and he was pretty sure he was not imagining the dark shadow with a shovel thrown over his shoulder. Letting out a very feminine scream, he scrambled to his feet and grabbed the first large object he could find- in his case, the beside lamp.
"I have a lamp and I'm not afraid to use it!" he practically squealed.
"What?" Ben stared at him.
"Ben!" he roared. "What's with the shovel, do you want me to have a heart attack and beat you to death with the lamp?"
The last time Ben had attempted to sneak into the house unnoticed, Carbo had attacked him with a vase. He had been expecting a cricket bat, hockey stick, kitchen knife... but no. Carbo had attacked him and his wife with a vase, of all things.
"Do you know what the date is?"
Carbo squinted at the clock. "It's not your birthday, mate, if that's what you're wondering".
"Don't be an idiot, I know it's not my birthday!" he scoffed. "Do you know what the DATE is?"
"No! Its four o'clock in the morning!"
"It's February twenty ninth".
"Is it really?" Carbo's eyes widened. "What are you waiting for? Let's go!"
They thundered down the stairs, flinging open the back door and running out to the back corner of their yard. The duo had been best friends since they were infants, going through life as a pair. February twenty ninth had certain significance to the two of them- since they were eight, the day that came along every four years was their day.
"Where did you get the shovel from?" Carbo wanted to know, as Ben swung the shovel from over his shoulder to dig at the yard.
"Since when have we had a shovel?"
"Dunno... but it was in there".
When they first buried their time capsule, they had dug up the dirt (Carbo's parents were in the middle of redoing their backyard) with Tonka trucks. Their 'time capsule' was an old Arnotts biscuit tin, that Rita had given them for that exact purpose. Every four years, they would dig it up, February twenty ninth, reliving memories of four years earlier.
And, digging up the backyard brought back memories they hadn't thought of in years.
"Where is everyone?" Melissa Bannon, Ben's wife, yawned. Sliding out of bed, she padded down the stairs, in search of her husband and housemate. "Ben? Carbo?"
Normally, if she had woken up and found them missing, she wouldn't have worried. But it was a Saturday morning, and the sun had only just risen. The chances Ben, at least, being out of bed before lunchtime on the weekends was slim.
The two were sitting at the table, mud streaks evident on both their skin and clothing. And, for a minute, she just stared. The pair were laughing over something on the table and Melissa was, quite honestly, afraid to ask what was going on.
But she did- knowing she'd regret it.
"Hey, guys", she said cautiously, taking one step further into the kitchen. "Watcha got there?"
Carbo simply held up a photo, and the two, talking in a fashion similar to a machine gun, rattled off the entire story. Melissa just took her seat, head spinning in the early hour.
She couldn't live with them, she couldn't live without them.