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Rated: E · Short Story · Family · #2292918
When Marsha comes shrieking into the kitchen, Mark knows trouble is about to break.
Marsha raced by, screaming and clawing at her shirt. She tried to jerk it over her head but it twisted around her face and arms. Another piercing shriek tore out of her. Her feet tangled, pitching her to the ground. Still ensnared in the shirt, she thrashed about on the tile.

Mark watched her with a strange expression on his face. He wasn’t sure if he should help her out or not.

“Momma,” he called out, “Marsha’s gone wild!”

Only after the words left his mouth did he remember she went shopping. She wouldn’t be of much use. So, he should probably help his sister. He walked over to her, but jumped back when she kicked in desperation to get out of her shirt.

“Marsha, calm down!” he said. His hands hovered in the air near her but he couldn’t get close enough through her violent struggles to assist.

“I can’t,” she bawled. “He put them in my clothes!”

“What?” he asked. He didn’t need to ask the ‘who’ part.

Their youngest brother, Max, took great delight in torturing their thirteen-year-old sister. Sometimes, he took it too far.

Before Marsha could reply, a small gecko crawled out of her pants leg. It scurried across the kitchen floor and disappeared under the stove.

“Hold still. I’ll help you get your shirt off,” he said, trying not to sound as exasperated as he felt. There was no reason in this world that he, a sixteen-year old boy, should be helping his little sister undress in the middle of the kitchen.

Yet, here he was.

Marsha held still finally, her chest heaving with fear. He tugged her shirt over her head, helping her yank her arms out of the fabric. Two more lizards fell out. She shot up from the ground as if they were snakes. They bolted away, disappearing under the fridge and stove.

“They’re just baby lizards.” He shook his head.

“Yeah, let’s see if you remain so calm,” she hissed as she shimmied out of her pants. “When they’re crawling around in your clothes!” When she dropped the pants on the ground, she knocked a lizard off her thigh. She turned around and asked, “Are there anymore on me?”

A tiny lizard perched on her right shoulder blade. When he reached for it, it scurried under her bra. Marsha gave a squeal of terror, instantly jumping up and down and begging for him to “get it”. After several failed attempts due to her jumping, he managed to catch the little gecko on her back.

He held it up in front of her face and asked, “Is this really what all the fuss is about?”

“Keep it away from me.” She turned her face away from the itty bitty reptile with a mewling sob.

He shook his head again and strode over to the back door. When he opened it and put his hand near the outside wall, the lizard jumped away and disappeared behind the shutter.

“You know, if you didn’t react so hard, he wouldn’t harass you,” he said.

A loud pop echoed behind him. Another snap dragged gaze back to Marsha. She shook her clothes with so much force they whipped the air.

When she ensured no more lizards lurked in her clothes, she said, “He’s going to pay for this. I don’t know how. Maybe ants in the pants or something, but he’s going to pay.”

“Marsha,” he said but she stuck a hand up and stopped him.

“No. He put lizards in my clothes. He deserves whatever happens and more.” Before he could protest, she stomped out of the kitchen.

A groan rolled out of him. Maybe he could talk to their little brother, get him to apologize or something. The last time Marsha and Max went head to head, he somehow got dragged into the middle and ended up with the worse punishment. According to his mom, he was the oldest brother and should know better.

He stepped into the hallway in time to witness Marsha slam the door shut to her room. Max poked his head out of his room and snickered.

When he spotted Mark, excitement lit his face. He asked, “Did you hear her? That was awesome. It took me hours to catch all them lizards last night.”

“Max, that wasn’t awesome. That was really bad actually,” Mark said.

His little brother rolled his eyes.

Recognizing the mini didn’t recognize the trouble he’d caused, Mark continued, “Seriously, dude. She’s mad. Don’t you remember what happened last time you ticked her off? Maybe you could just apologize and make this stop before it gets worse.”

Max grinned, his cherubic ten-year-old face twisted into demonic enthusiasm. “Oh, I’m ready for it this time. I’ve got all sorts of plans. You might want to join my side right from the beginning. It’ll be safest.” He didn’t wait for his older brother’s reply, just ducked his head back in his room and slammed the door.

Cold chills swept down Mark’s back as he stood alone in the quiet hallway. His siblings words echoed in his mind, the spark for the impending Martin Sibling War III. He understood it crested on the verge of breaking loose.

Sure, he could try talking his siblings into rationally discussing their differences. . . or he could go build a bomb shelter out back.

The shelter sounded more probable.
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