This was written for the Two for Tuesday Challenge #12. Prompt: Dirty Laundry.
‘Jeremy has been doing very well in his English class,’ Mum said while Jeremy smiled a toothy, brown smile and finished the rest of his hot chocolate.
‘Oh, that’s great!’ Anne replied while helping herself to another biscuit. I suppose that’s a fair exchange for having to listen to Mum babbling. What are friends for, eh?
‘And Clara really knows her numbers. Didn’t you get a perfect score on the last mathematics test?’ Apparently it was my turn.
‘It was just a quiz. A lot of people got a perfect score.’
‘That doesn’t make it any less meaningful,’ Mum added, and refilled our teas in careful order; first Anne, then me, and herself last. I thought I saw Anne hiding an incoming yawn, but I couldn’t be sure; my observations were interrupted by Jeremy sneaking a biscuit from the plate. His subtlety is below average, even for a seven-year-old.
‘Now, now, Jeremy,’ Mum said with exaggerated patience, ‘you’ve had enough biscuits for today—’
‘—But daddy always gets to have as many biscuits as he wants!’ Jeremy hit his chair’s armrests with balled little fists, while Anne pretended to be interested in something beyond the window, possibly the darkening sky. Evasive action, one of her specialties.
‘Now, now, daddy works hard all day, and is a lot bigger than you. He needs to eat more—’
‘—He keeps going to the kitchen at night to eat ice cream! And then he doesn’t give me any, and I can’t reach!’ Jeremy looked like he was about to start his “tearful rage mode”, as I like to call it.
‘I don’t get to have any either, and I can reach,’ I added slyly to Anne, forcing her to look away from her watch and take part in the conversation. I wasn’t going to be the only one suffering through the shouting match. She gave me a sort of half-smile, half-shrug.
‘Jeremy, I’m warning you—’ Mum was now standing up, which only made him stand up too.
‘But I love ice cream!’ he shouted as he tried to make tears flow. Such theatrics.
‘I apologize for my family,’ I told Anne as I slouched on my seat and watched the row. ‘Would you like another biscuit while we wait for them to calm down?’
‘And I’m still growing!’ Jeremy continued loudly enough to be heard by the neighbours. ‘Clara is the one who’s fat, you said so!’
‘What?’ I turned around to stare at both Mum and Jeremy.
‘She said so, she said you’ve grown but haven’t lost your puppy dog fat, so—’
‘To your rooms, both of you!’ Mum pushed us bodily out of the living room and squeezed us into the hallway. ‘We do not hang our dirty laundry in public,’ she whispered before running back to Anne, probably with a dozen apologies. Anne would say she needed to leave soon, anyway, and that it was no trouble.
‘What dirty laundry?’ Jeremy said after he dried his crocodile tears.
‘She means we shouldn’t shout at each other in front of other people,’ I answered as I walked him back to his room.
‘Why not? We shout at each other all the time.’
‘Yes, but we’re family.’
Word count: 539