A Bit of Real Fiction
So, let’s skip all the “here’s why I haven’t posted for so long…”
I’ve dreamed of writing fiction, and I often attempt it. But, almost always, I just start telling real stories from my life, partially because I need the processing time and partially because some of them are just too good to pass up. (Even The Almost Dancer, which is coming in FALL!!!! was first an attempt at writing a fictional ballet novel. I just had to switch over to telling my real life, to get it out of my system!)
I LOVE this story I share with you here. This character, Jill, is me, and she may eventually appear in a novel I slowly work at in moments of fun courage. Jill gets to say things I often wish I could, and she is not conflict avoidant. She has five children, instead of my 4, because her last one came out as twins, two boys, Bran and Clark. This scene in Starbucks really did happen, and I had all four of my kiddos with me (not twins). And, my lines… I mean Jill’s lines are pretty much verbatim Jessica Ribera. Clear as mud? Great! Enjoy…
The warm, coffee and paper smelling air hit Jill in the face like a blow-dryer on low as she pulled open the Starbuck’s door. The boys were doing that thing where they make their two bodies somehow feel like an entire baseball team, and they tripped over each other about ten different ways. She scooped them into the chute of discount mugs and overpriced applesauce packets.
“Mom, can we have packets?”
“Yeah, if we get a packet then that’s fruit, so we could still get a treat.”
“No packets. They’re just sugar and no nutrition. And I said that we are here for snack and that doesn’t automatically mean treat. Baseball practice is next! You need lasting energy.”
“Yeah, but it’s Starbuck’s, so isn’t it all just treats anyway?”
“Yeah, mom, it’s just treats anyway.”
“Well, they have egg bites and stuff too.”
Why, Jill? WHY? It would have been two seconds to grab something from home. This is what I get for adding “enrichment” to my children’s lives.
“Can we have egg bites and a treat, but just not a packet?”
“Yeah, can we have egg bites and a treat?”
“Just decide now! Treats or no?”
“Yeah, just decide now!”
“BOYS, first of all, like I always say, you don’t both need to say the same thing. It’s super noise-pollution-y, and double isn’t always better.”
“There’s two of us. Are we not allowed to say our own idea just because he has it too?”
“Yeah, are we not allowed to say our own ideas just”
The boys cracked into uproarious laughter as they shared a high-five so intense that they each said “ow” and hit the other in the arm. They began laughing even more crazily and initiated what was sure to be a nearly endless loop of reenactments. Bran hit Clark too hard and made Clark topple into the spinning packet rack. Jill managed to reach out to catch the top before it fell over, but the base kicked out and smacked her in the shin.
“Boys! Can we please just do one thing in our day that doesn’t cause pain and drama!?” She whisper-screamed at them through gritted teeth and could feel the rage deepening every wrinkle on her forehead. She breathed in and out quickly as the man behind them said, “you ok?”
“Yeah, I’m good.”
“Can I get a brownie?”
“Yeah, can I get a brownie... No! A cake pop!”
“Ok, listen let’s get one order of egg bites for you to split and if you eat that first you can get something extra. Not a cake pop.”
“But a brownie is ok?”
“Then why not a cake pop? It’s the same thing just with a stick.”
“Yeah, I want a cake pop too.”
“But I said no cake pop.”
“But it’s dumb to say no to a cake pop, but yes to a brownie that is even bigger.”
“Yeah, mom. You have to admit that’s dumb.”
“Oy. You people. Yes. You are right. Just choose a friggin’ cake pop.”
“Ok, geez, you don’t have to get mad at us.”
“I’m not mad. I’m just stressed by how wild this is feeling.”
“It’s ok. I’m sorry I’m crabby. Also my shin hurts from the packet rack. Packet Racket.”
“Ha! Packet Racket. Remember how I was like bwam…” The boys began a whole slow-motion, loud machine-gun-mouth-sounds reenactment.
“And mom was like BOYS!” They went to pieces making the angry mom face at each other.
Jill was just trying to get their attention to find out what flavor cake pop she should ask for when the barista timidly raised her voice.
“Ma’am? I can take your order.”
“Oh, ok! Boys!” She tripped over Clark.
“Whew. Got your hands full!” the barista smiled.
“Yeah, I get that a lot.”
“What can I get you?”
“We need the sous vide bites. Bacon. And two cake pops… boys…. BOYS!”
Clark and Bran were in the middle of the next rendering of the packet racket tale, this time using high-pitched old lady voices for all the parts.
“Boys, if you want a cake pop you better place your orders.”
“Oh! Yes. Cake pop for me.”
“Yeah, cake pop for me.”
“What k i n d?”
“Lemon” “Chocolate!” they shouted simultaneously.
“So one of each…” the barista tried to say.
“Can we each get both?”
“Yeah, can we?”
“NO. Just one. So choose. Lemon or chocolate.”
“Wait, I’m changing my mind! I want the brownie.”
“Yeah, me too. Brownie.”
“Two brownies?” sang the blond barista.
“Well, that’s easy enough! That’ll be $11.67.”
Does this lady ever stop smiling?
“Easy for you to say.” Jill gave her the most condescending smile she thought she could get away with.
They stared at each other smiling for a second.
“You can put your card in whenever you’re ready.”
“OH!” Jill startled as from a daydream and began rummaging through her Mary Poppins bag for a wallet.
“Of course, it’s fallen into the very bottom,” she muttered to herself.
“Do you need some money?” The gruff voice came from directly next to Jill’s face. The man behind her held out a handful of bills. He leaned on a cane, but didn’t seem too elderly. Bran and Clark went dead silent and immediately turned their attention up at their mom like two little prairie dogs.
“Oh, no, thanks,” Jill chuckled gently. “I’m just slow. Sorry.”
“I can give you some money if you need it.”
“Oh, we really are fine.”
The barista’s eyes smiled back with pity at Jill’s nervous glance.
“Here it is!” Jill chimed as she pulled the card from her wallet.
“Mom, do we need money?”
“Yeah, do we need money?”
“No, guys we don’t.”
“Are we ok?”
“Yeah, are we…”
“YES. We’re fine. Ok. All done with that.” Jill swept the boys to the far end of the counter to wait on the egg bites.
“Mom, why did that guy try to give you money?”
“I don’t know. I’m sure he was just trying to be nice.”
“Why would he think we need it?”
“Yeah, do we need it?”
“No. I promise that we don’t.”
“You know you could have just taken it.”
“Yeah, you should have just taken it. I need money.”
“Oy, you guys! It was a weird thing, but nice. But we don’t need money.”
Jill could see the barista sympathetically nodding at the man as he paid for his coffee and spoke to her in a low, grumbly tone.
C’mon, egg bites. C’mon, c’mon.
Jill turned to look at the car in the parking lot and wished they were driving away already.
“Here! Really.” The man was right next to her again.
“Oh, you are so kind, but we are ok.”
“Just take this! I want you to have it.” He peeled the fiver off the crumpled stack of bills and shoved it at Jill. “Take it!”
“Ok. Thank you.” Jill accepted the money just to end the scene.
“Mom, can I have that?”
“Yeah, can we have that?”
“Boys… Really, thank you sir. That’s very generous.”
The man looked Jill in the eye for a split-second and then said to the wall, “I know what it’s like to be hungry, and I don’t want that to happen to these children.”
“Egg bites for Jill!”
“Oop! That’s us!” Jill swooped past the man to grab the food, and took Bran by the hand. “Let’s go, guys!”
“Black coffee for Gary!”
As the man turned his back, Jill said, “Thanks again” and quickly stashed the five dollars in the tip jar on the the bar.
“Mom, that’s ou…”
“Nope,” Jill said through her teeth again and stared so hard at the boys that they withered into silence and turned toward the door. She herded them out and quickly marched them to the car.
“Mom, you could have given that money to us!”
“Yeah, you should have given it to us!”
“Boys, we do not need the money, and it would have been weird to keep it.”
“Still, he was trying to make sure we were ok.”
“You are ok. Unless you keep causing me drama, and then you will wish you were ok.”
“Are you threatening us?”
“Yeah, mom. We don’t threaten in our house.”
Jill laughed and shook her head. “Ayiyi! What is our life?!”
She backed out of the parking lot and turned toward the baseball field as Bran and Clark crumbled the brownies into bits and pressed the crumbs into ping pong sized balls for their pockets.