Jack felt proud of himself as he walked toward the house with the goose on his back and his mom’s gifts stuffed in his pockets and the outside pockets of his backpack. He could feel the muscles in his face lifting with his spirits. He opened the front door and –
“Jack.” His mom’s voice was strained with angry tension.
Jack felt the joy leach from him as annoyance and apprehension took over. He dropped his backpack just outside the door and walked in, knowing he was in trouble for something.
“Did you eat 6 cans of fruit?”
“No.” He hadn’t actually eaten the fruit.
“Really? Don’t lie to me.”
“Ah. Well I needed them for something.”
“You needed them for something? Seriously? Where are the cans? I want them back now.”
“Well. I can’t exactly get them back.”
Jack wasn’t sure what to do. He stood there looking at her.
“Jack.” Anger was seeping out of her and wrapping him so tight he could barely breathe. “You can’t just take food. It’s not like before. You have to ask. That’s just the way it is. Got it? Damn now what am I going to do?”
She swore. She never swore. Jack gulped down guilt that soured in his stomach.
“Why? How does it matter?”
“It just does. OK.”
He backed into the front door and opened it.
“Exactly where do you think you’re going young man? You’re grounded, for like ever.”
She was always grounding him and he hated when she just flew off the handle grounding him for no reason. The word grated at his nerves and the anger of the injustice of it almost over came the guilt he felt. Still, he stepped out, grabbed his bag and presented his mom with a goose filled backpack.
“I traded them for this.”
His mom’s eye were huge, her mouth hung open and for the first time since he could ever remember she was speechless. Suspenseful silence hung between them for what seemed like forever. Uncertainty and regret were beginning to fill every cell of Jack’s being. He’d been so sure this was a good idea, maybe it hadn’t been.
“What am I supposed to do with that?”
“Cook it. You can eat them can’t you?”
“Ah.” She swore again. “I have no idea what to do with it.” The goose honked and she screamed. “It’s still alive? ****” The F bomb hung there like an obscene horrific image. Then she started laughing. “Oh my gawd.”
Jack felt the weight lifting off his shoulders and his muscles relaxing just a bit.
“Oh my gawd Jack, what are we going to do with it?”
Jack just shrugged.
“I kinda thought you’d know.”
She laughed again.
“We’ll have to cage the damn thing in the garage somehow and you’re bag is probably filled with crap.”
He looked at the bag. He hadn’t thought about that and dropped it with a loud angry honking.
“Don’t drop him. Her? Him? It?”
She went to reach for the backpack and the goose tried to bite her. She fell on her butt as she tripped trying to get away from the animal’s angry mouth.
They both burst out laughing.
“What’s so funny?”
Nick’s voice came from behind Jack, a stab of surprise jabbed him and he jumped towards his mom as he turned. Another bought of uncontrollable laughter hit him as he sat down next to his mom.
“Kim do you know what’s going on?” Nick asked.
Jack glanced over to the staircase where a very confused looking Kim stood shaking her head.
The goose honked loudly joining his voice with the laughter and Nick swore jumping back out the door.
Laughter from everyone filled the house. It felt good to laugh. At that moment Jack realized he hadn’t laughed or heard his mom laugh since the invasion over a month before. The fear that hung over them left through the open door fleeing from the sound of their laughter and the goose’s honking.
Part 13 – The Morning
Shannon Peel is the author of THIRTEEN and is currently working on Book 2 in the series about a boy, his mom, a cop, and an invading army. She has brought war to a North American town to answer the question, what if it happened here?