This story takes place on the Septuplets' 11th birthday, July 12, 1993.

Molly's Folly
A Carlson Septuplets Story

The sun shown brightly and there was not a cloud in the sky. It was perfect weather for a trip to the water park. And that's exactly where the Carlson Septuplets and several of their friends were heading: to Seven Stars Water Park, the site of the Septs' eleventh birthday. Seven Stars had bumper boats, paddle boats, a wave pool, an incredibly steep slide that required riders to wear a helmet, a natural lake that the steep slide and paddle boats were on that people could swim in, an arcade, a candy store, and the spectacular main attraction: three giant twisty water slides each over four stories tall, complete with tunnels and tangles in the tracks!

The Carlsons arrived at the water park prepared for a day full of fun in the sun. The "Sept-Van," the Carlsons' "little car," and Meredith's friends' mom's car all pulled into three parking spaces and nineteen people hopped out. The Sept-Van, which was a normal van that the Carlsons had added two extra seats in to accommodate their large family, still wasn't enough to carry the Septs and all their birthday party guests! The van had two seats in the front for Mr. and Mrs. Carlson, two bucket seats in the middle where Mary and Meredith usually sat, a bench seat that had room for three where Megan, Molly, and Monica sat, and two extra seats in what used to be storage space where Michelle and Melissa sat. Today, however, Mr. Carlson drove the van which was stuffed full with Megan and her friend Angela Tompkins, Mary and Mindy Thorne, Monica and Zoe Theeworth and Elizabeth Roger, and Molly and Ruby Sanders. Angela and Megan had to share a seat because there wasn't enough room, even though they brought two other cars! Mrs. Carlson drove the Carlsons' little car, which was just a normal car with two seats in front and two seats in back. Melissa and her friends Tanya Kalis and Louise Martin rode in there, and so did Michelle. Michelle's friends couldn't all fit in the car, so they rode with Mrs. Roscher, the mother of Meredith's friends Hannah and Millie. Mrs. Roscher had volunteered to help drive the immense group because Mrs. Carlson was worried about everyone having a seat belt. Meredith, twins Hannah and Millie, and June and Holly rode in there. Hannah and Millie had to share a seat because the Roschers' car was also a small car.

They were all relieved when they arrived and could get out of the crowded vehicles. Everyone was all ready with their swimsuits and sunblock on. The kids all dashed off. Most of them headed for the three towering waterslides. Mary was the fastest runner and got a huge headstart but unfortunately for her, one of the frivolous lifeguards who didn't really care whether anyone got hurt but loved bossing younger kids around barked at her, "Go back and walk!" so Mary indignantly turned around and defiantly ran back to the gate. Molly was still sitting there.

"Hey, Molly," she said, "why're you still sitting here?"

"Oh, I don't know," Molly replied, sounding somewhat sullen. "I guess I'm just bored."

"Molly, it's our birthday party! Perk up! Go have fun! There's tons of things to do at a water park!"

"Well, I don't know where Ruby went. She ran off with everyone else."

"Then she's probably at the water slides. Let's go find her! I lost Mindy too when those lifeguards who think they're above everyone just because they get to wear a shiny whistle told me to go back and walk. Can you believe that? It's not wet! Everyone was running!"

For a few moments Molly's frown was replaced with an amused smile from Mary's description. "Okay," Molly agreed, "I'll come."

They ran off again forgetting about the lifeguard who shouted, "hey you! I said, walk! You have to go back and walk!!" But Mary and Molly didn't pay any attention to him.

They each grabbed a foam rubber mat to slide down the huge slides with and lugged them up the four story tall staircase. It took them several minutes to make the climb. When they reached the top, Michelle and Holly were up there. "Hi guys," Michelle said as Holly disappeared into one of the slides which started with a dark tunnel. "What took you so long?"

"Molly was feeling a little depressed but I convinced her that the purpose of a party is to have fun. Have you seen Mindy and Ruby?" Mary asked.

"Mindy just slid down, right before you got up here. She was waiting for you but then she decided you must not be coming. Slide down the middle slide, she's probably reaching the pool at the bottom about now. You'll catch her there. Ruby was up here too. She was one of the first ones down, you must have just missed her when you were coming up the stairs." Then Michelle took off down one of the slides.

"C'mon, Molly," Mary shouted as she slid down a slide. "I'll meet you at the bottom!" Then she was gone.

Molly went down the slide Ruby had taken. When she reached the bottom, Mary, Megan, Angela, and Mindy were wading in the little pool. "Hi," Angela said. "I saw Ruby, she went over to the bumper boats. She was looking for you. Go see if she's still there."

"Okay. Thanks!" Molly took of toward the bumper boats. Mary, Megan, Angela, and Mindy were joined by Meredith, Hannah, and Millie, and the seven of them headed back up the stairs for another run on the slides.

Meanwhile, Melissa, Tanya, and Louise were running back past the gate to reach the other side of the park where the candy store was. They passed the same lifeguard who had yelled at Mary and Molly. "Hey! Slow down! You come back here right now!" he shouted, but Melissa and her friends were the last ones you would expect to listen to someone only a few years older than they were. The lifeguard was getting pretty angry because no one was listening to his orders. He had thought it would be an easy job and fun to yell at people, but it was turning out to be pretty hard. The lifeguard was one of those airheaded boys who reminds you of a "surfer dude" which is what he actually was, and no one wanted to take orders from a surfer dude.

About an hour later, Meredith and her friends skipped happily by the gate, unwittingly making the lifeguard incredibly angry. He didn't realize that the Carlson Septuplets were there having their birthday party, and thought the brown-haired green-eyed kid who kept running past was one person. It had become the lifeguard's obsession to track down that kid and get her to go back to the gate and walk. "YOU!" he screamed at poor Meredith. "GET BACK HERE RIGHT NOW! I MEAN IT!" Meredith and Hannah froze. Millie was so startled she took off running even faster leaving the others behind.

"Come here right now!" the lifeguard ordered. Meredith, who had an extremely puzzled look on her face, made a gesture that said, "me?" and the lifeguard said, "Yeah, you! Get over here!"

Meredith, trembling, came over to the lifeguard. "Ye-yes?" she asked. "What is it?"

"You know what it is! You go back to that gate and walk over here or I'm going to restrict you from using any of the attractions!"

Meredith had absolutely no clue what he was talking about. "I'm sorry, I wasn't even running!"

"DO IT!" the lifeguard exclaimed, turning red in the face (and it wasn't because of sunburn).

Hannah followed Meredith to the front gate, where they both turned back toward the lifeguard and walked slowly and timidly back until they were a safe distance from the lifeguard, who they both were sure was crazy. Then they ran as fast as they could away from him. "AAAHHH!" the lifeguard screamed in complete frustration. He took off the visor he was wearing that said "LIFEGUARD" in big letters, and stomped on it in anger.

About half an hour later, the Carlsons were ready to eat the birthday picnic and cake they had brought. The adults told all the kids they could find to come eat cake in five minutes, and the kids went off to find the rest of the bunch. Five minutes later, all of them were at the picnic table-except one.

"Where's Molly?" Megan asked. Everyone looked toward Ruby, Molly's best friend, for the answer.

"The last time I saw her, she was on the really steep slide," Ruby said. "I didn't want to go, so I went to the wave pool with Michelle and Monica and their friends.

"Someone go find her," Melissa said. "I want to eat cake!"

"Megan, would you go look at the beach and see if Molly's still there?" Mrs. Carlson asked.

"Sure," Megan said. She ran down to the lake. A minute or so later she returned. "Nope, she's not there," she said.

"Great," Tanya said sarcastically. "I guess we've got to go find her."

"Yes, we do, Tanya," Monica said, annoyed at how Melissa and her friends seemed to think it was only Melissa's birthday party. "It's Molly's birthday, too, you know!"

"Okay," Mary said. "Why don't Meredith and the twins go search the area around the big slides. Monica, you and Elizabeth and Zoe look by the bumper boats. Megan and Angela, you take the area by the wave pool. Melissa, you and your friends look around in the arcade and candy store-"

"Yeah, right, like we're going to listen to you," Tanya said. Meredith, who was standing next to Tanya, elbowed her in the side.

"—and Michelle, you and your friends look around the beach and the playground," Mary continued, ignoring Tanya's rude interruption. "Mindy and I will search the locker rooms."

"Let's go!" Michelle cried, and they all ran off.

An hour later, the group had searched the whole park twice. Molly was no where to be found. Mr. and Mrs. Carlson were extremely worried. Everyone else was feeling panicky, too—even Tanya.

"Peter, maybe we should call security?" Mrs. Carlson said in a frigtened tone.

"Girls, look around some more. Maybe we missed her," Mr. Carlson instructed. "She's got to be here somewhere! If we don't find her in ten minutes, we'll have to call security."

Ten minutes passed. Molly was still missing. "I'll go report this to security," Mrs. Roscher said. "Hannah, Millie, why don't you come with me and help me find it?" she asked her daughters.

" thanks, mom," Hannah said.

"Yeah, there's a lifeguard over there who wants to kill us! He's crazy or something!" Millie explained.

"Okay, fine then. I'll find it myself," Mrs. Roscher said, and left.

Twenty minutes later, the security guards had searched the park and hadn't found her. Mrs. Carlson remembered the time years ago when Monica had been kidnapped. They had been lucky, that time. Mrs. Carlson feared that this time they may not be so fortunate. She was almost crying. "What if she's been kidnapped?"

Monica and Megan were almost crying too. They were really worried about their sister. So was everyone else, but they were either not yet to the almost-crying stage or else too tense to cry.

The whole crowd was standing on the dock where the paddle boats were docked. Other visitors to the park were clustering around to see what was going on. Some of them recognized the Septuplets and thought that it could be big news.

Suddenly Monica cried, "Look!" and pointed out at the lake. A paddle boat was heading toward the dock. Everyone turned and stared at the boat, trying to make out who was in it.

"It's Molly!! It's Molly!" Melissa shrieked hysterically. She was leaning out far over the edge of the dock waving her hands in the air, and suddenly she lost her balance. "Eeeeeeekkk!" she screamed, as she plunged into the murky brown water below. Luckily, it was fairly deep, and Melissa was fine. Everyone laughed as Melissa surfaced and plucked some lake-weed off her head. She looked extremely annoyed, which made everyone else laugh harder. They were all so happy and relieved that Molly was safe that they laughed and cheered and waved. Melissa swam over to Molly's approaching paddle-boat and climbed onto the back.

Molly and Melissa reached the dock and climbed out. Mr. and Mrs. Carlson rushed over to Molly and gave her a hug. Then they turned serious.

"What on Earth did you think you were doing? You had us so worried!" Mrs. Carlson scolded.

"Why didn't you tell us where you were going?" Mr. Carlson demanded. "We had security looking for you! We were ready to call the police-we thought you had been kidnapped! We've been looking for you for two hours!"

Suddenly, Molly started to cry. Everyone became silent. Molly was certainly not a cry baby. She rarely cried over anything. So naturally, people wondered what could make her cry.

"What's the matter, honey?" Mrs. Carlson asked.

"I'm sorry," Molly sobbed. "I'm sorry. I didn't know everyone would be so worried. I didn't mean to scare you. But...but it's not fair!"

"What's not fair?" Monica asked.

"No one's been paying any attention to me all day-not even one single `happy birthday, Molly' from anyone, except from Mom and Dad this morning, and that was to all of us at once. Ruby's been off playing with everyone else all day, even before we got here, even in the car! It's just—it's just not fair!" she wailed.

"I'm sorry, dear," Mrs. Carlson said, but then Molly started explaining again.

"No one's done anything with me all day—" she began.

"Hey, what about me? I waited for you on the slide and—" Mary interjected, but Michelle hissed for her to be quiet so Molly could explain.

"—and it's my birthday!" Molly continued sobbing. "It's my birthday and no one's paying attention to me! I know it's because it's all of your birthdays too," she said, meaning her sisters, "but everyone else gets their own birthday! It's the one day of the year when people are supposed to pay attention to you, it's your special day when you're the `birthday girl' and everyone does things for you and only you. But with us, we don't get that! We don't get it because we were all born on one day. And it's not fair."

"Millie and Hannah have the same birthday," Michelle pointed out, but Mary shushed her because Michelle had just shushed Mary a few moments ago.

"I know, Molly," Mr. Carlson said, "but that's just the way things are. We couldn't help it that you were all born on one day."

Everyone was silent for a minute, thinking about the situation. Ruby was going to ask if her dad could do a news clip about the missing Sept incident, but thought it wouldn't be a very good time to ask since Molly hated TV coverage. Then Mary shouted, "Hey! I've got a great idea!"

"What is it?" everyone wanted to know.

"What if we said that on our birthday we have a big party, like we're having now, and this is the day we get birthday presents and stuff like that. But then we say that all of us get our own special day, spread throughout the year so none of us have to share a day with anyone else, when only that one septuplet gets to do something with only her friends? 'Cause right now, we only get to invite one or two friends each since there's so many of us, but if there was only one of us having a party, we could invite more of our own friends! And we wouldn't have to give presents. We'd just maybe go somewhere special or something like that."

"Mary, that's a really cool idea!" Melissa said. It wasn't often that Melissa said anything that Mary thought of was cool, so everyone knew she really thought it was a great plan.

"Yeah, and that would be great because on our birthday we don't always agree on a place to go, but on that individual day it would be only up to one person to decide!" Monica pointed out.

"Well, if it keeps this from happening again, I'm all for it!" Mr. Carlson said.

"I think it's a wonderful idea," Mrs. Carlson said. "So when are these days going to be?"

All the Septs thought for a few moments. Mary was the first to decide, since she had actually thought of her idea a long time ago and had decided the date she would pick, but had never had a good chance to present her plan. "I think I want my personal day to be on August twenty-eighth," she said. "It's the day I first came home from the hospital, and it's at the time of year when you want to do something special-the beginning of the school year!"

"The time of year when I want to do something special is November," Molly said, "because it's so gloomy and boring and you need something to cheer you up. I'll take November twenty-first. I like the number twenty-one."

"My team number in my favorite team I was in, my fourth grade soccer team, was thirty-four," Michelle said. "That could be the third month and fourth day-I'll take March fourth!"

"After Christmas I always feel a little bit of a let-down from going back to school," Melissa explained. "Sort of like Mary and her end-of-summer thing. So I'll take something in January, but not to close to Christmas-January thirtieth."

"Let's see, what months have been taken?" Monica asked. "August, November, March, and January. I'll take October. I like that month. October seventeenth will be my day!"

"I would pick September seventh," Meredith said, "because we're septuplets, which has the same prefix as September, and seven is the number it's talking about...but that's only a week after Mary's, so I'll take something a little later. How about September twenty-ninth, a month and a day later?"

"That makes me think of a good name for these birthday things," Monica's friend Zoe said. "How about if you call them Sept Days, because they're for the world's only Septs?"

"Yeah, I like that," Mindy said. "Sept Days!"

"That's what we'll call them, then!" Michelle agreed enthusiastically.

"Okay," Monica said, "that leaves only you, Megan. What day do you pick?"

"April tenth," Megan stated matter-of-factly.

"Why April tenth?" her friend Angela asked.

"I like April," Megan replied simply.

"Are we ever going to eat, here?" Tanya demanded, getting impatient.

"Yeah!" everyone shouted, and ran up to eat their picnic lunch. On the gigantic cake they had brought, there were seven clusters of eleven candles each; one cluster in each Sept's favorite color. The crowd sang "happy birthday" and all the Septs blew out their candles at once. Everyone had a great time for the rest of the day, including Molly who forgot all about her previous feelings of neglect.

On the way out of the park that evening, they passed the lifeguard who was still on duty. He took one look at the seven girls who all looked like the one who had made him so angry, and exclaimed, "whoa, dude! There's seven of them! I've really got to get another job!"

The Septuplets and their friends broke into hysterics.

"Molly's Folly" © 1997 by Jessie Mannisto.