To Try Men’s Souls

(scene opens in tossed dining room)

Me: So how was school? Any homework? (sips coffee)
Beta: Yeah, English. I have to find a word that describes me that rhymes with the sound of my name.
Me: (pause, confused) You have to find a descriptive word that rhymes with your name? Or one that starts with the same letter?
Beta: (instantly exasperated) Rhymes with my name!
Me: (pretty sure he’s wrong) There aren’t going to be any descriptive words that sound like your name, honey.
Beta: (falls apart, verge of tears) It has to rhyme with the “L” sound.
Me: (staying calm, grits out) Rhyme is the wrong word. Rhyme is “bat, cat, rat, prat”. Starting with the same letter is completely different. (Points to computer) Get on Thesaurus.com and look up a word.
Beta: (hysterical) But I don’t even know what word I’m looking for yet.
Me: (slams hands on table) Would you just trust my judgement for once and get on the computer!
Beta: (does so, stares at blanks screen for five minutes, quivering with tears)
Me: (sighs deeply, leans over to type)

(close up on screen shows word “argumentative”)

Me: There. (conversationally reads) Belligerent. Combative. Contrary. Litigious. Litigious is a good word. That starts with the letter “L”.
Beta: (bright and cheery) Yeah! It is a good word.
Me: (stares into the blackness that is her coffee)

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Right. There.

(scene opens up in parlor, bearing strong resemblance to a sweatshop)

Me: Alpha? I need a pen that will write on fabric.
Alpha: Where would I find that?
Me: Pen cup. Kitchen.
Alpha: (many hilarious failed attempts to produce anything resembling “fine tip” or “marker”)
Me: (exasperated) You know that nice pen that you have in your Boy Scout binder? Something like that.
Alpha: Where would I find that?
Me: Hooks along the stairs.
Alpha: (off screen) It’s not here.
Me: (stabs mouthful of pins into tomato, one at a time, mouthing curses) Hook. Stairs. Under jacket.
Alpha: (still off screen) I’m looking! It’s not here!
Me: (goes to basement stairwell. Stands on stairs. Stares at hooks.)
Alpha: Oh! I thought you meant the other hooks. (points at tiny key rack next to side door.
Me: Hooks. (points to hooks) Basement stairs. (points to stairs) Check under jackets. (removes hoodie from hook, reveals blue shoulder bag zipped organizer)
Alpha: Oh. Thanks mom. (takes organizer)
Me: You need to learn how to look for things. When the apocalypse comes, I won’t be here to help you find your survival gear.