More adventures of the Wildy Fun Family! 😉
Emily’s mouth dropped open in shock. “Mom…”
“What she’s trying to say, Mom, is….AWESOME! THIS IS THE GREATEST NEWS EVER!” Mark bounced on the couch cushions. Kris nodded her head enthusiastically.
“That wasn’t my words, Mark.” Emily sniffed. “Do you guys really have to leave? For a whole month? Why can’t we come with you?”
Mary Wild sighed deeply. “I wish that you all could. But we can’t.”
Emily’s eyes brimmed with tears. “I don’t want you and Dad to be in a whole different country!”
Mark coughed loudly, “Don’t listen to her, Dad. She’ll be okay after you guys leave. She’s just immature, you know? Kind of like a little kid trying green ice cream for the first time. She doesn’t think she’ll like it, but when she tries it, she’ll be in love forever?”
“Green ice cream!” Kris’s eyes lit up. “I could go for that right now!”
Emily broke down sobbing. Mary hugged her daughter tightly.
“Everything’s gonna be okay, honey.”
“I know!!” Mark bounced up and down. “I mean, what kids are there who wouldn’t want to be left home alone for thirty one days! Imagine all of the possibilities! Movie marathons, dessert for breakfast and riding bikes up and down the stairs!”
“Whoa, whoa, slow down, buddy!” Bruce raised his hands. “Who said anything about you staying home alone?”
Mark froze, mid-dance. “What?”
“You’ll be staying with Aunt Miriam.”
“Aunt Miriam?” Mark groaned. “Do we have to stay in her…shack?”
“She has a farm, Mark, and a very nice little house.”
“I can’t even remember her.” Kris said.
Emily sniffled. “I haven’t seen her since that miserable family reunion five years ago.”
“Wasn’t she the one who dumped cake all over Great-Grandpa? Didn’t he have to go to the hospital because of that?”
“That was your Uncle Bernie, Mark.” Mary corrected.
“Miriam is a very sweet lady, kids. You’ll have a great time with her.”
Emily broke into a fresh round of sobs. Mark glanced longingly towards the freezer and wondered if Aunt Miriam would even know what ice cream was.
“Should I take my stuffed chicken, too?”
Kris held a worn toy in her hand. On the bed in front of her sat a huge suitcase that was stuffed to the brim.
“Uh, Kris, I don’t think you need all of that stuff.” Emily smiled at her small, neatly packed bag. “Do you even have clothes in there?”
“I have two pairs of underwear and rain boots, but everything else seemed like a waste of valuable space. I need to bring all of my toys and my books. And my beloved blanky. And –”
“I get the idea.” Emily shook her head. “You really think Mom’s going to let you take all of that?”
“Maybe! Mom and Dad are so busy with their last minute preparations for their trip that I doubt they’ll notice my bag.”
“Dad will, when he has to lift it into the car.” Emily sighed. “I can’t believe that this is really happening. We’re leaving tomorrow.”
Kris stuffed the chicken into a free corner and grinned in satisfaction. “Yup, and I am all ready to go!”
“Uh….so…Aunty – I mean, Aunt Miriam….”
The Wild kids sat in the back of an old, beat up truck. It bounced along the gravel road away from the airport and towards their certain death by boredom.
Miriam Wild gripped the steering wheel between large, calloused hands. Her lips were pressed tightly into a thin line on her wrinkled face. Her grey hairs seemed strangely out of place on her strong, sturdy body. The ride had been rather silent, punctured only by Mark’s weak attempts to start a conversation. When he failed, he shrugged and watched the scenery rush past his open window.
Not that there was much scenery to see. It was mostly fields of corn and big pastures filled with cows. Emily longed for the business of city life. Cars honking, people shouting, dirty streets. She couldn’t wait to be back. Even the air here smelled strange….it seemed so…could it be? Fresh? Emily shook her head at the thought. No, she was probably just imagining it.
“We’re here, kiddos!”
Miriam pulled the truck to an abrupt stop in front of a small house. Kris stared at it in dismay and hugged her stuffed chicken to her chest. Peeling paint – didn’t they know that was a hazard?! – and dirty windows. The ground in front of the house was covered with torn plastic bags, mud, and – oh the horrors – a real rooster stalking up and down, like a sentry.
“I wanna go home now.” Kris whispered to Emily.
“Me too….does Mom and Dad even know what kind of a place this is?! There are probably criminals and gangsters hiding inside of there….”
“Hey, whatcha kids waiting for?!”
Miriam heaved Kris’s suitcase out of the back and dragged it through the mud, towards the house.
“Grab your stuff and let’s go inside!”
Emily and Kris exchanged helpless glances and followed Mark and Miriam inside. Once their eyes adjusted, they saw a cozy, mostly-tidy little house. A small living room was stuffed with a large rocking chair, a torn couch and a faded rug. Kris’s eyes wandered to the kitchen and fell upon a plate of oatmeal cookies. Her face relaxed.
“You know, this might not be so bad after all.”
She walked up to the plate and reached out to grab a cookie. As she did, something large, hairy and black jumped out from behind the counter with a horrific roar. Kris screamed and raced behind Miriam.
“AUNTY!” She cried. “DID YOU SEE THAT!? WHAT IS THAT MONSTER!?”
Miriam threw back her head and let out a long laugh. “Darlin’, that was just your cousin, Nate. Nate, come out here and apologize for scaring the little lady.”
An alarmingly large figure sauntered towards the trembling girl. His face was covered with acne and there were a couple sporadic hairs jutting out from his chin. His lips were frozen in a smirk and he carried himself with an air that said, “Stay out of my way or I’ll beat you into the dirt.”
“Do I know you?” Mark tried to keep his voice stable.
“Nah, you don’t.” Nate stuffed five cookies into his mouth, the crumbs spilling unceremoniously down his face. “But I look forward to getting better acquainted.”
Mark gulped. “Yeah…me too.”
“We should have a lot of fun this month, Baby Cuz.” Nate grinned, revealing a row of yellow teeth. “Me, you, your sisters and Uncle Bernie.”
“Uncle Bernie?” Mark swallowed hard. “He’s the one who almost killed Great-Grandpa?”
Miriam coughed. “We don’t talk about that, darling.”
“Yeah, he gets really mad about that.” Nate downed a huge glass of milk in one gulp. “I wouldn’t talk to him if I were you. He doesn’t like city folks.”
I want to go home now.
All three kids were thinking the same thing and wishing that they had a time machine and could skip to the end of the month.
“Nate, show them to their rooms.” Miriam tossed Kris’s suitcase to the big cousin. Kris cringed as she heard her porcelain dolls smashing against each other.
“Follow me, kiddies.” Nate said. “Mark, you’ll be in my room. You girls will get the spare room.”
“You’re lucky.” Mark mouthed to Emily. He cleared his throat. “Nate, you live here?”
Nate nodded. “Have for five years. Miriam’s okay. Bernie’s a ton of fun.”
“So Uncle Bernie lives here, too?” Mark’s heart was sinking faster with each minute that he spent in this house.
“Nah, he has a trailer behind the house. Miriam don’t want her brother-in-law stinking up her house.”
“Do you suppose we could have been picked up by the wrong Miriam?” Kris said, when she and Emily were cautiously unpacking their suitcases in the tiny guest room. “Maybe she’ll realize her mistake and take us back to the airport and a nice, quiet, sugar-loving aunt will be there waiting for us!”
Emily plopped down on the bed and cradled her head between her hands. “I’m convinced that Mom and Dad didn’t know where they were sending us.”
A rooster crowed outside and a dog barked.
“Cousin is scary, Aunt is scary and I’m sure Uncle will be scary, too. I should’ve brought my Taser.”
“It’s plastic, Kris. It wouldn’t do you any good anyway.”
Mark appeared at the doorway. “Aunt says to wash up for supper.”
“Mark, this is terrible.” Emily moaned.
Mark nodded. “At least you don’t have to share a room with a buffalo.”
“That annoying, eh?”
“You don’t know the half of it.” Mark tugged at his hair. “Nate is grumpy, rude, loud and just obnoxious. He insisted on going through my stuff, and stole my monkey.”
“You could’ve taken him on, Mark.” Kris fingered her broken doll. “Show ‘em who’s boss.”
“Uh, Kris, he’s boss. I’m not about to have my skull smashed over ten dollars.”
“Oh the woes of life!” Kris raised her sad eyes to the window. “I dreamed a dream in times gone by….when life was full and hope worth living! I dreamed that I was with a kind grandma. When I was young and unscared, and dreams were dreamt and loved! There were no scary cousins, no angry uncles and no dirty houses! Oh I dreamed and yet it was all a dream!”
Emily choked back laughter. “Kris, that isn’t how the song goes….”
“It is.” Kris nodded. “I heard Mark sing it last year when he didn’t get what he wanted for Christmas.”
Mark’s face reddened. “C’mon, guys, we need to get supper.”
As the three miserable kids, Nate and Miriam were chowing down on a delicious, hand-cooked meal, Uncle Bernie stepped through the door. Mark choked, Emily froze and Kris whimpered. Bernie was taller (and stronger) than Nate. With each step he took, the dishes rattled and the floorboards creaked under the strain. Bernie pulled out the last chair and dropped into it. He grabbed the plate of chicken and got to work on it, not even seeming to notice his terrified nieces and nephew. Emily, Mark and Kris stared.
Miriam cleared her throat. “Kids, this is your Uncle Bernie.”
“Hi…” Mark’s voice faltered.
“Hey.” Bernie’s voice was deep and gravely. He gave the kids a three second look over and then returned to his dinner.
“Aunt, I was wondering if I could have the password to your internet.” Mark said, avoiding any eye contact with his uncle.
“Oh, sorry, Mark, we don’t have internet here.” Miriam declared. “It’s just a waste of time, if you ask me. Why waste time playin’ with those little devices when you could be doing good, manual work.”
Mark’s face went pale. “No internet?!” His voice squeaked. “What am I gonna do all day?”
“You’ll help me work!” Bernie declared, pushing his plate back and settling into his chair.
“This just keeps on getting better.” Mark whispered under his breath. “You do have a phone, right?”
“Sure!” Miriam laughed and pointed to a small, red flip phone sitting on the counter.
Miriam placed a large, peach pie in the middle of the table. “Dessert anyone?”
Kris’s eyes turned to hearts. As she took her first bite, she whispered to Emily, “You know what? This just might not be as bad as we thought. Aunt is a great cook!”
Night had fallen sooner than the kids wished. Emily and Kris had crawled into the single bed stared at the ceiling, wishing desperately for morning.
“Emily?” Kris hugged her sister’s hand. “Did you see a shadow go past the window?!”
“There are a lot of shadows, Kris. Don’t worry.”
Kris tried to reassure herself, but a few minutes later, another shadow – something tall and big – darted past her window. She sat up in bed, trembling.
“There’s something out there!”
“No, there isn’t. Lay down. I’m tired.”
Two seconds later, the shadow returned. Still holding Emily’s hand, Kris crept to the window and peered out. A giant face jumped up and growled at her. She, and Emily, screamed. They heard laughter below their window and gathered the courage to look again. There, with the moonlight shining on his face, was Nate….and Mark. Both were laughing hysterically.
“Mark! Nate!” Emily yelled. “That wasn’t funny!”
“It sure was!” Nate hooted. “You should have seen your faces! They were priceless!”
Emily groaned and pulled the covers over her head.
The official log of Marcus James Wild: Day Four of life in Farmland Prison
Things aren’t looking up for us yet. I’ve been sharing a room with the human bison (both in size and strength) known as Nate Wild. How he could actually be related to me is beyond my knowledge. Anyway, it’s not been fun. He’s played numerous pranks on me, Emily and Kris. Thanks to him, I’m missing an inch of my hair and my eyebrows will never be the same again.
Uncle decided that I would help him around the farm, based on my gender, not my level of strength. Nate, who has to help, too, finds my attempts at farming hilarious. Uncle scoffs at me and complains about senseless city folks all day long.
If I wasn’t so tired at the end of each day, I would be bored out of my mind. Nate confiscated all of my videogames. Not that they’ll do him any good anyway after Uncle accidentally sat on them….
I’ve been living in this place for a full week now. I’m counting down the days, waiting for this month to be over. I can’t wait to get back to my clean, safe house and away from this dirty, disgusting farm. Aunt assigned me some chores – feeding the dogs, gathering the numerous eggs from the chickens, cleaning vegetables and weeding in one of her many her huge herb gardens. My least favorite is gathering the eggs. First of all, they don’t look anything like the ones in the store. They’re all different sizes and different colors. Did you know that there are naturally bluish eggs? Yeah, I didn’t either. All the eggs are filthy. The first day I put gloves on, but after Nate made fun of me incessantly, I gave it up and subjected my delicate princess fingers to handling that…stuff. I have to say, though, those eggs make the store ones taste really bland. I’ve never seen such yellow yokes.
Help me. There are scary animals. And scary men. The only good thing is Aunty. She’s my one consolation in this dark place. She makes the best pie and her jokes are actually pretty funny.
I call Mommy and Daddy every night and we talk. They were a little surprised to hear about Nate and Uncle, but there wasn’t anything that they could do about it.
After a long, hard day of work, everyone gathered around the table. This was the best part of the day, Mark thought. Working hard certainly gave a person a good appetite. He glanced at his arms and smiled at the nice shade that they were getting. And was that a bit of muscle he saw forming? Bruce would be impressed by how much his son had manned up in such a short time.
Of course, Mark would rather wait a few more years to be seen as a man than to go through a month of pure torture.
“Hey, pass the chicken, boy.”
“Here, Uncle.” Mark heaved the heavy plate and passed it to Bernie.
Bernie grunted as he dropped large chunks of meat onto his huge plate.
The tiny phone rang loudly, vibrating and bouncing against the counter. Miriam picked it up.
“Hello? Yes, this is her. You what?! No, that isn’t possible. I can’t just up and leave! I have guests! Yeah, they’re both here. You don’t expect me to – okay, okay, hold your horses. Yeah, yeah, I’ll be there. I know where it is. Sure. Okay, bye.”
Miriam turned and saw three children, mouths open, seemingly frozen in place. She rubbed her back and clicked her tongue.
“Sorry, kiddies. Got bad news. My cousin’s brother’s wife fell and broke her legs. She’s got five kids under ten.”
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” Mark whispered. Emily nodded. Kris just hugged her fork to her chest.
“I’ve gotta go help her. I won’t be gone for more than two weeks, so I should be back before you kids leave.”
“What?” Emily blurted out. “You’re going to leave?! You’re going to leave me with them?!” She glanced towards Bernie and Nate, who looked just as nervous as she felt.
“I have to, kid. Always gotta help family.”
“But we’re family, Aunt.” Mark noted. “We’re your brother’s children!”
Miriam sighed. “I know ya are. But I can’t just leave that poor woman all alone in her condition. I’ll leave early tomorrow morning.”
“But Aunt –”
Bernie banged his fists against the table. The dishes rattled. “Now look here, when Miriam says something, it’s final. You got that, boy?”
Mark gulped. “Yes sir.”
Any hope that the children had held onto since coming was rapidly disappearing. It flew away completely as Miriam got in her truck and left the next day, before sunrise.
“We’re in trouble.” Mark groaned, as he eyed Nate out of the corner of his eye. “Aunt was the one person who held it all together. Without her, we’re doomed.”
Emily moaned. “I have it worse than you do, Mark. All you have to do is work around the farm. Kris and I have had our jobs ‘upgraded’.”
Kris said, “I’m taking over Emily’s chores because she has to cook and clean the house.”
Mark choked. “You’re cooking, Emily?”
Emily nodded miserably.
“But you don’t know how to cook anything! You burn everything you make!”
“Not everything! There was that one time that I made those cookies.”
“Mom helped you with that!”
Kris patted her stomach. “Aunt made the best food. That was the highlight of my life! Now even that is stripped away! I’m empty and without a lifeline.”
Emily glared at her little sister.
“Hey, you kids, don’t just stand there wasting time! There’s work to do!”
Mark sighed. “You heard the man, girls. Let the fun begin.”
“Every single part of me aches.” Mark rubbed his legs gingerly and winced in pain.
“I’m just glad this day is over.” Emily glanced at Kris, who was already asleep, completely worn out. “Cooking was a complete disaster.” She grimaced as the smoke smell reminded her of her failed attempts at frying pork.
“It’s a good thing that we had leftovers. Of course Uncle took half of them and Nate ate most of what was left…”
Emily sighed. “Mark…I think….that is to say….”
“I think we’ve been wrong.”
Mark blinked, confused.
“As much as I dislike this farm, and Nate and Uncle, we haven’t exactly been pictures of perfection, either.”
Mark thought about the cruel prank he had attempted to pull on Nate that morning and grimaced.
“I mean, we’ve complained about just about everything. I don’t blame Uncle for having such a bad attitude with us.”
Mark shrugged. “I’d say that we earned the right to complain. Look around you, Em! This place is a wreck.”
“I was having my devotional time tonight and I realized….we really aren’t honoring God in the way we’re treating Uncle or Nate. Or this situation.”
“I’ve been thinking it over and….I think I’m going to try to stop complaining and try to shine the light of Jesus to Nate…and Uncle Bernie.”
“For all the good it’ll do.”
Emily glared at her brother. “Seriously, though, just like Mom says, ‘Complaining doesn’t make the time go by faster – it just makes you and everyone around you miserable’.”
“I doubt we – and they – could be any more miserable than we are at the moment.”
“You do what you want, Mark, but I’m going to work hard to honor God in the way that I act.”
“Fine.” Mark paused. “I guess I’ll join you. But don’t expect Nate to fall down at your feet and become the perfect gentleman.”
Emily laughed. “We’re agreed, then.”
“Me, too.” Kris sat up, mumbled and brushed the hair out of her eyes. “Uh, what are you guys talking about?”
I’ll post the rest next time. 😉