Reluctant Hero – Installment #3

Reluctant Hero – Installment #3

If you’ve enjoyed the previous Reluctant Hero stories… here’s the next one!

Before dinner I was charged with the care of three hungry and clamorous little hooligans. Now after dinner I am charged with the care of three jelly-smeared and butter-bedecked clamorous little hooligans.

Prospects are bleak. I have two hours to go.

I s’pose I should start by cleaning them up. I grab some paper napkins and go to work. Only it doesn’t work. Holly giggles and Cameron yells as I smear the jelly in larger and bleaker circles on their faces. “Mommy gets it wet first!”

For good reason. That works much better. Now that the little tyrants are clean enough, I lean my elbows on the table. “So… what do you guys usually do after supper?”

“Mommy reads us books –”

Cameron rudely shoves his words on top of Holly’s. “We sing songs, too! Old MacDonald had a farm, e-i-e-i-o!” He bobs his whole body along to the song as I cover my ears and Holly tugs on my sleeve. “I want more water.”

“Okay, I’ll get you some.”

“Me, too! I want some water!”

Nothing like being followed by bouncing children wherever you go.

Two soaked t-shirts, a shattered glass and a few tears later, I set the dirty dishes in the sink, put the applesauce in the fridge, and pull the kids onto the couch with me. They’ve filled their little fists with all the books they can hold, and I feel a sudden wave of fatigue.

Oh, help.

“This one’s my favorite; read it first!” Cameron shoves a tattered paperback three inches from my nose. “Whoa, buddy; hold on a sec.” Holding the book at a more comfortable distance, I read the title. “Caps for Sale.”

“Read it, read it!” The couch is shaking with their maniacal bouncing, and even Jake’s tear-streaked face mellows a bit. “Okay…”

When I open the book, something magical happens. I can hardly believe my ears and eyes. Are they actually… calming down? I start reading, slowly. They stare, eyes wide and hands still. Page after page after page, until I close the book and they throw another one at me. And another. And another…

Somehow, being suffocated by a pile of children isn’t half as bad as I thought it would be. Even when Jake falls asleep with his face squished up against my chest, drooling all over my shirt, I don’t really mind…

What’s happening to me?

Reluctant Hero – Installment #2

Reluctant Hero – Installment #2

Last Thursday I shared a little piece of flash fiction (you can read it here). I got a couple of suggestions that it could be a series… and since I enjoyed writing the story so much, I decided to write a second installment!

If you’d like to hear more about poor Ryan and his trials and tribulations, let me know, and maybe you will.:)

***

“Guys, this is Ryan. He’s gonna babysit you while Mommy is gone. Ryan, this is Holly, Cameron, and Jake.”

I try not to show my terror as I sweep a brief glance across the three little faces. “Hey, guys.”

“Hi, Ryan! Wanna wrestle?” Cameron screams. Holly stares at me blankly. Jake takes one look at me and bursts into tears. Oh, to be young enough to show my true feelings.

“I’ll be gone for about two and a half hours… that’ll work with your schedule?” The mother of the little brutes speaks in the tone of voice I imagine a prison guard uses when pleading for time off. I decide against asking if two and a half hours will work with my mental health, and instead say, “Uh… yeah.”

“Perfect.” Her sigh of relief is enormous. “Thanks so much for doing this. Bye, guys! You be good for Ryan. Oh,” she says, turning back with her hand on the front door knob, “Supper’s on the table. Have fun!”

Because that’s what you say to a kamikaze pilot.

The door slams behind her with a dismal finality. I turn slowly, muttering prayers for deliverance under my breath, and force myself to make eye contact with my charges. “So… you guys hungry?”

“I don’t like the crusts,” Cameron yells, racing Holly to the table. Jake stares up at me from where he sits on a blanket on the floor, eyes teary and lower lip trembling. Seeing that he isn’t seeking food with the vicious enthusiasm his siblings express, I guess he’s not old enough to walk yet. Honestly, I wouldn’t be able to walk if my legs were that chubby, either.

So how does one go about picking up a baby? I stare quizzically at the mini monster. I consider calling my sister, but laugh at myself after a few minutes of consideration. What am I thinking? I can do this! You probably just… grab him. Under the armpits, maybe?

Holding him at arm’s length, I begin to question the wisdom of this method. He’s starting to cry again. Food will help. I rush him to the table and plunk him in the small chair that sits up higher than the others. I assume it’s some sort of baby container – it has restraining straps and everything. Oh, thank goodness. I don’t have to hold the thing on my lap and have him dribble applesauce and drool all over my arms.

 However, the kid lets out a primal yell when his chubby leg gets pinched in one of the buckles.

“Quiet, Jake! QUIET!” his siblings scream in unison, banging their spoons on the table. I try to take deep breaths. It’s gonna be a long night.

Reluctant Hero – Flash Fiction

Reluctant Hero – Flash Fiction

Just another little flash fic piece… I hope you like it!

“No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. You cannot make me do that.”

“Ryan, I need you to do this for me. Please.”

“Uh-uh. No way am I gonna spend my Saturday night in torture. I hate noise. And sharp things. And being scratched and spit on and crowded and laughed at. No way.”

“Ryan, it’s not as bad as it seems. Really. You’ll survive… besides, it’ll be good experience. Just think of all the content you’ll have for your stories after this!”

“If I live to write them.”

“Look, you’ve gotta be there at seven o’clock sharp. Got it?”

“Lillie, they’re going to kill me. Kill me.”

“You’re a good man, Ryan.”

***

My knuckles are white on the steering wheel. How in the world did I let my kid sister talk me into doing this? Sometimes I wonder if she lives to put me in terrible situations. When we were little it was the thing with the dog and the airhorn… then the thing with the sled and the watermelons and the nursing home. And now it’s… this.

Is she trying to get rid of me or something?

I check my watch. 6:54. Plenty of time. At least I’ll die knowing that I held up my end of the bargain. I’ll die for my sister’s sake – like a hero. Will they mention something about that at my funeral? I turn onto Galloway Avenue, wondering what my funeral will be like. Yuck… I hope they don’t put flowers all over the place. Maybe I should leave a note: Nix the flowers.

Here it is – 666 Galloway Avenue. The 666 unnerves me, and the driveway is lined with the bony fingers of dead maples reaching to seize me as soon as I leave the safety of my car. Honestly, I’d rather die here in the darkness at the hands of the trees than at the clawing hands of the monsters that await me inside.

The ancient porch creaks and groans as I step onto it, and my fist reaches out to make a confident-sounding assault on the door. Shrieks and screams leak through the windows, and the edge of a curtain is pulled furtively from the window. I quickly turn my eyes to study the doorbell I neglected to see before.

The door swings open. I straighten my shoulders and smile weakly.

“You’re Lillie’s brother? Thanks so much for watching the kids tonight.”