Either/Or

(scene opens outside a strip mall DMV)

Me: (waiting out on the side walk)

Alpha: (walks up sheepishly)

Me: Well?

Alpha: I failed. I have to retake it.

Me: (takes a moment to consider body language) You’re lying to me.

Alpha: (smile brightens) Yes. I got it. I passed.

Me: (reaches into purse, pulls out bag of sour gummi Troll worms) Here. Congrats.

Alpha: (looks at bag) If I had failed, would you not have given it to me?

Me: You’d still get it. Then it’d be consolation candy. Like Break Up Ice Cream. Did you want to drive home?

Alpha: God no. I have candy to eat.

She’s got the look

(rapid fire montage of Gamma coming down stairs in ratty and/or dirty pants)

Me: Go upstairs and put on some nicer pants.

Gamma: (dramatically) These are the nicest ones I have!

(repeat for at least fifteen different scenes, various times of day and seasons)

(scene opens in sawdusty garage, half painted bench resting on paper)

Me: (in clothes obviously meant for sloppy work, touching up hard to reach spots)

Gamma: (just off screen) Oops. I got paint on my pants.

(Carrot looks over, camera turns)

Gamma: (standing in pristine white shirt, brand new unblemished jeans now bearing a dark maroon lean spot on the thigh)

Me: (irrationally calm) Gamma? I’ve never seen those pants before. Are they new?

Gamma: (brightly) Amazing what you can find in the bottom of a very deep and dark drawer.

(Carrot begins to tremble, screen fades to black)

Boogey Down

(scene opens in mini-van)

Alpha: What day is it?

Me: September 21st.

Alpha: Happy Wind, Earth, Fire day.

Me: Wut? I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Alpha: The song! Here, I’ll play it. (picks up phone, connects it to van’s stereo)

(Carrot does a quick glance at the screen and sees Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September”)

Me: OH! I remember this song. Yeah, okay. I get it now.

Alpha: (surprised) You know this song?

Me: Yeah. It was popular recently. It was on the Troll’s soundtrack.

Alpha: But that was like nine years ago.

Me: Honey, hate to break it to you, but its way older than that. I remember being a little kid in the car with my dad and singing it. Use the technology and see what year it came out.

(Alpha fiddles with his phone)

Alpha: Woah. It came out in….1978?

Me: Yes. For reference, your Uncle J was born that year. I’m six years older than this song.

Alpha: Wow. That’s really old music.

Me: (says nothing)

Technology makes life easier!

(scene opens in tossed dining room)

Me: Okay, Alpha! Ready to go get your driver’s license?

Alpha: (glumly) No.

Me: Excellent. (checks webpage) Says we need to bring one piece of documentation from sections A, B, C, and D. Got your birth certificate and social security card?

Alpha: (holds them up) Check.

Me: Proof of address?

Alpha: (holds up college letter, state ID, and driver’s permit) Check.

Me: Proof of Insurance?

Alpha: (holds up insurance paper) Check.

Me: We ride!

(cut scene to parking lot of sad struggling strip mall)

Door Guard: Does he have all his paperwork? Are you 18?

Alpha: (hands over folder) Yes.

Door Guard: (rifles paperwork) You have to stay out here, mom. Appointments only and he’s adult.

Me: Cool. (sides on a concrete riser)

(time passes, Alpha returns)

Alpha: They say I need a high school transcript to prove I took Driver’s Ed. I’m not in the system.

Me: (dumbfounded) Not in the system? (goes to Door Guard) He needs a high school transcript?

Door Guard: Yeah, bring a high school transcript and they send it to Springfield and once he’s in the system he can take the driver’s test.

Me: (hotly) That wasn’t on the list of required documentation.

Door Guard: (shrugs) It’s a state law.

Me: (with poison) And where does it say that on the web site for required documentation?

Door Guard: (shrugs again) You can come back later today.

Me: (calling up the fire within) Then what was the point of making an appointment?

(Door Guard shrugs a third time, doesn’t answer, turns away. Carrot pulls out her phone and begins frantically researching and typing while Alpha hovers nervously by)

Me: Oh! They can email me a transcript! Maybe the day is saved. (types some more and pauses)

Alpha: What?

Me: They can email me a transcript. For three dollars and it’ll arrive in five business days.

(Carrot closes eyes and breaths deeply)

Alpha: (nervously) I’m really sorry mom.

Me: (kindly) It’s not your fault, Alpha. We followed all the instructions given to us. They just didn’t give us all the instructions.

Carrot’s Inner Voice:

He’s getting better.

(scene opens in dining room not Carrot’s. Family party in progress, mostly adults around the table)

Beta: (takes empty chair, downs the last of a bottle of root beer)

Cousin K: You drank it all?

Beta: Yeah.

Carrot: I thought you liked root beer.

Beta: I do. Just that it was super flat. I went to take off the cap and it just fell off like someone had opened it.

(silence falls)

Aunt T: It’s a good idea not to drink bottles that have already been opened.

Husband: That’s someone cracking it open at the store, taking a drink and putting it back.

Me: Or putting something inside of it.

Beta: (shrugs)

(scene ends)

(new scene in grocery store refrigerated aisle)

Me: (looking at prices of small juice bottles) It says three for five – did you want to try the cranberry flavor? Get an OJ, apple, and then cranberry?

Beta: Sure.

(Carrot reaches up to get the cranberry juice)

Beta: Wait! Look at the lid.

(camera close up on broken seal)

Beta: We probably shouldn’t drink that. See? I can learn! (laughs stupidly)

Me: Your father would be so proud of you. You just might live to see adulthood.

Marital Expectations

(scene opens in dining room, Carrot wincing as she ices the sole of her foot. Husband enters from kitchen.)

Husband: (expansively) You picked the best weekend to go camping with the Girl Scouts tomorrow!

Me: (wearily) Oh yeah? Heat index out of control?

Husband: No! Its because I have to be up all night!

Me: (suspicious) Why?

Husband: Sandman drops today and I have to binge watch!

Me: (outraged) Not without me!

Husband: I’ll watch it again a dozen times over!

(camera swaps between Carrot’s Murder Face and Husband’s look of Chaotic Glee a half dozen times)

Me: (sighs, checks watch) All the kids are in bed by 8. We’re pulling an all nighter.

Husband: On the big T.V.?

Me: Of course.

Inter-office Memo

(scene opens at the top of the stairs, furniture pushed onto the landing)

Me: What is this?

Gamma: (briskly exiting her room) I’m just doing a bit of cleaning.

Me: (somewhere between shock and confusion)

Gamma: (hands over a clipboard) I’ve come to some decisions about what I want my room to look like.

(camera cuts to clipboard)

Me: Uh, okay.

Gamma: You probably should talk it over with dad.

Me: Sure. I’ll do that. (slowly backs away, exits scene)

It’s an adventure!

(scene opens in dinning room, Beta shuffles in)

Me: (looks up from laptop) Good morning! Glad to be back home?

Beta: (groggy) Yes.

Me: Tell me what else you did at Sea Base? I want all the stories.

Beta: Well, we were on that primitive island and you get a chuck box. There’s the ‘Chuck Box Challenge’.

Me: Oh dear. I know where this is going.

Beta: (warming to tale) So, the challenge is that you have to eat everything you packed in. We didn’t have much time left so I look in the box and pull out the maple syrup and chug it.

Me: (starts laughing) Ohmigod. Go tell your father.

Beta: Why?

Me: I think he might be proud of you.

(time passes, cut scene to later, Husband walks into dinning room)

Me: Did Beta tell you about the food challenge?

Husband: Yes. I told him he should have put the maple syrup on something. Like an apple.

Me: Oh yeah? What’d he say?

Husband: Said that’s what Alpha did.

Me: (proud) I love our knuckleheads.

The mighty hunter returns.

(scene opens in bright summer parlor, Jethro Tull loud on the speakers)

Me: (at embroidery frame singing heartily) Ring out those solstice bells! Ring out….

Alpha: (off screen and with terror) MOM!

(Carrot leaps up and heads to basement, cut scene to top of the stairs)

(Alpha looks up helplessly, Epsilon noses something suspicious on the floor, manages a doggy smug)

Me: (exasperated) Alpha, its just poop. If you guys walked him more this wouldn’t…

Alpha: (tremulously) Mom. It’s not poop.

(Carrot descends stairs for better look)

Carrot’s Inner Voice: Please, oh god, don’t be a rat.

Carrot: Looks a little big to be a mouse, and there’s no tail. (gets closer, sighs gently) Oh honey, its a baby rabbit. A very baby rabbit.

Epsilon: (wags tail and pants smugly)

Alpha: (tearfully) Is it dead?

(Carrot picks up small animal, wet and slick and black. It kicks slightly)

Alpha: (jumps) It’s not dead!

Carrot: Well, this makes things a little more complicated.

Editor’s Note: Said baby appears to have been claimed. Given the cruelty of Mother Nature, we are continuing to believe that said baby was claimed by the mama.

Peace Through Superior Firepower

(scene opens in bright sunny kitchen)

Me: (standing wearily before kitchen, coffee re-heating)

Delta: (strides in from outside, flips open hatch on oversized squirt gun) Mom? Can I put some ice in this bad boy?

Me: (starts to laugh, goes to icemaker, fills cupped hands with a pile of ice, pours it into open squirt gun)

Delta: (with confidence) Thanks mom! I’m gonna win this war. (locks, loads, leaves)

(off screen Gamma shrieks loud and often)

Me: (puts on headphones, turns up volume, goes back to laptop slurping hot coffee)

Summer begins!

(scene opens at school pick up line, smalls climbing into mini-van)

Me: (brightly) Hey guys! Last day of school! Are you ready for summer?

Gamma: (too through) I guess. My teacher gave me a bag of candy.

Me: I can tell by the chocolate on your face. What about you, Delta?

Delta: (perky) My teacher gave us all sunglasses!

Me: (pulls away from curb) Perfect for summer!

Delta: Mom, how many more days until second grade?

Me: (frowns) Uh…thirty days in June, thirty one in July, subtract one for today. Add ten for August and you have seventy days of Summer.

Delta: (incredulous) Seventy days!?

Me: Yup.

Delta: I can’t wait seventy days to ride the bus. Can’t I go back earlier?

Me: (sighs) Tragically, no.

Delta: (disgruntled) This is so unfair.

All figured out.

(scene opens in a tossed dinning room)

Delta: (eating post school snack) Wouldn’t it be great if people figured out what the meaning of life is?

Me: (looks up from laptop, suspicious) ….yes. Yes it would.

Delta: What do you think the meaning of life is?

Me: (quiet for a moment) Creation. The whole reason we’re here is to make stuff.

Delta: Do you know what I think it is? Happiness.

Me: That seems like a good answer.

Delta: (sighs, satisfied) Now we just need to let everyone know what the meaning of life it!

Me: (stares)