John and Margaret
I watched my brother pour a teaspoon of salt into the mug on the counter. “John, I don’t think that’s a good idea.” I said, glancing over my shoulder.
“Relax Meg,” John replied, stirring the cup of herbal tea so the salt would dissolve. “It’s gonna be hilarious.”
“But Sarah’s still upset about the worms,” I said.
“I know. So she won’t see this coming. And that’s why it’ll be so funny.” My brother was grinning that infectious grin of his. I smiled back, but shook my head.
“She’s gonna be pissed,” I warned.
When Sarah had seen those worms in her cereal bowl this morning, I’d thought for sure she was going to throw up. I’d never seen a bowl fly across a room like that. And the look on her face when she’d cornered us was like something out of a movie. I’m pretty sure she was at her wit’s end, or wherever it is grown-ups go when they’re really mad. It probably didn’t help that John and me had been pulling pranks on her since the day she’d moved in. But we didn’t like the way she changed things—the way she changed our Dad, especially. He used to be way more fun.
I led the way to the living room. John followed bearing the mug of tea. John usually came up with the ideas for the pranks, so my job was to help him pull them off.
Sarah was sitting on our mom’s favourite armchair. Dad stood behind her, rubbing her shoulders. They both looked at us when we appeared in the doorway. I lowered my head and walked over to stand in front of Sarah. John came and stood beside me, keeping his eyes firmly fixed to the floor.
“We’re really sorry, Sarah,” I said in my best quiet voice. “We made you some tea.”
John held the mug out and we both held our breath as we waited to see if Sarah would accept it. From the corner of my eye, I saw Dad nudge her.
Sarah let out a sigh and took the mug from John’s hands. Then she took a sip. And promptly spat it back into the mug. She stood up, her eyes blazing with anger.
“What’s wrong?” Dad asked.
With something that sounded like a growl, Sarah thrust the mug at our Dad and stormed out of the room. Dad sniffed the contents of the mug then took a little sip.
“Salt? Really?” He looked at us, frustration and disappointment written clearly on his face. He sighed. “Go to your rooms.”
I could hear Dad and Sarah arguing from my bedroom. She was really angry. I couldn’t hear everything they said, but I did hear her say she’d had enough and it was either her or us. Maybe that meant she would finally leave and things would go back to the way they used to be.
After a while, their voices got quieter. I played with toys, read some fairy tales, and eventually fell asleep. When I woke up, it was starting to get dark outside. My Dad knocked on the door, then poked his head in.
“Margaret, put on a sweater and come downstairs.” He pulled the door closed and I heard him go to John’s room and say the same thing.
Dad and Sarah were waiting for us at the bottom of the stairs. Sarah stood with her arms crossed and her eyes averted.
“We’re going to take a drive,” Dad explained, “Your stepmother wants to show you something. Put your boots on and go get in the car.”
Something in Dad’s voice told me that this wasn’t a normal family outing. As we put our outdoor clothes on, a knot started to grow in my stomach. We stepped out into a crisp winter night. The full moon hung low in the sky, casting a creepy glow over everything. I looked at Sarah, and for a second, I could have sworn her scarf was actually a snake. The knot in my stomach tightened. I stopped walking.
“Dad, can I grab a snack?” I asked. “John and I haven’t eaten since this morning.”
Dad nodded and told me to be quick.
I ran to the kitchen and searched the cupboards for something I could use. There, at the back of the top shelf, was a small box of breadcrumbs. I slipped it into my pocket, grabbed some granola bars, and headed back outside.
This is my submission for the Speakeasy #142. We had to write a piece of poetry or fiction under 750 words, containing the following line anywhere:
I don’t think that’s a good idea.
Our submissions also had to make some reference to the media prompt, which, this week, is the following picture:
There’s still lots of time to participate in this week’s Speakeasy, so come check it out.