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Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2167445
A summer stay-at-home kid would really rather not be making their own meals.
Evelyn was reclining on her couch, watching Seinfeld reruns as the sunlight drained away. It had a pretty standard nothing summer day so far, and it seemed like it was going to stay the way.

She snuggled into the side of the couch, pulling the purple knit blanket further over her shoulders. Dinner, she hoped, was soon, but at the same time she kind of dreaded it because she would have to get off the couch.

Kathleen, her mother, came through the front door, all high heels and clinky zippers. It was the sound of business.

“Hey,” she said, sounding tired as she hung up her snappy blue coat on the wobbly hat rack. “How was your day?”

“Pretty boring. I mostly just hung around. How was work?” Evelyn paused the TV.

“Bleh. Tiring.” Sighing, Kathleen sat down on the stairs and popped off her shoes.

Just as the teen was about to ask her about dinner, her mother cut her off by saying, “Ugh. I’m so exhausted, Ev. I need to go take a nap.”

“Oh, um, okay.”

Now, normally, Evelyn wouldn’t have taken too much issue with making her own dinner, but she had made her own breakfast. And lunch. You can only get so self-sufficient at thirteen, after all. Besides, she was out of those little frozen sandwiches. (She’d thrown her last wrapper away, then flattened the cardboard box and put it in the recycling. She was rather proud of herself for this.)

Ergo, Evelyn just wanted to sit on the couch, watch TV, and get dinner without expending too much effort. That, however, might’ve taken awhile if she didn’t want to bother Kathleen.

So she sat. The TV was bright and moderately funny, and it reminded the teen that a late meal never killed anyone, unless it was three weeks late. That’s the rule: a human can survive three minutes without oxygen, three days without water, and three weeks without food.

She wasn’t going to get three-week-late food, so she sat tight until Kathleen came down. The nap lasted one and a half episodes, or about forty-five minutes. By then, Evelyn’s stomach grumblies had taken on a deeper, more menacing tone, and she considered just microwaving a chicken patty and popping a few grapes to satiate her intestinal woes.

But then Kathleen came gallivanting down the stairs in her pajamas, socked feet making muffled booms on the wooden stairs. “What are you watching?” the mother inquired.

“Seinfeld, but I can switch it over to some Law and Order if you want.”

“Oh,” said Kathleen as she noisily plopped down on the beanbag. “That would be divine.”

“Okay.” Channels were flipped until Evelyn arrived at her destination. There always seemed to be an episode of Law and Order on TV, one channel or another. Evelyn didn't particularly care for it, but she knew Kathleen wasn't the biggest fan of her sitcoms, either, so they both had to compromise.

About a quarter episode went by before Evelyn asked her mother about dinner.

“Yeah, okay,” Kathleen had replied, shifting in her beanbag. “I'll start making it next commercial break.”

Evelyn had counted three commercial breaks so far, and her stomach threatened to collapse in on itself like a black hole. By then, it was 7:30.

“Um, are you still going to make me dinner?” the daughter asked hesitantly.

“Oh! Oh, right! I'm so sorry, Ev, I'll make you some dinner.” Kathleen stood up and walked over to the kitchen. “What do you want?”

“Surprise me.” Evelyn often said this to avoid sounding indecisive.

“Can do!” Boxes were pulled out of places and a plate and a glass were set on the counter and stuff was opened and a bag crinkled and a drink was poured and the toaster started up. That was what everything sounded like, at least, from the teen’s perspective.

A third of an episode later, the toaster dinged, and Kathleen placed the pigs in blankets on the plate along with the cantaloupe pieces and Fritos. “Your food’s ready,” she said.

Evelyn shed her blanket and walked over to find three of her favorite foods starring together in an action-packed, high-octane feature. She hadn't expected anything this good, but she happily slid into her chair to devour it.

It all tasted even better than usual, too. The sweet melon, the salty corn chips, the juicy hot dogs inside the flaky pastry, was all amplified by a few notches.

She recalled something she'd read in a book, “Hunger is the best seasoning; it makes even kettle chips taste good.”

“No arguing with that,” thought Evelyn as she polished of an entire pig in a blanket with one bite.
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