House of Hazards

Fiction By Jackie West // 3/3/2011

        This is the result of a grammar project....



Life at our house last night was enough to give a turtle high blood pressure!

            We were preparing to have guests, and they were due to come in an hour when it all began.

            Maureen was sautéing peppers and onions and supervising the setting of the table, which was being done by the twins, Jana and Jessica.  They had been working for just a little while when Jacob came running to show Maureen a spider he had found.   He didn’t see Jana and bumped into her, and she immediately dropped the full, open pitcher of water that she was carrying.  The water poured out, making an enormous mess.

            Luke was filling the dishwasher at this point, but when the accident occurred he quickly finished the job and ran to get some huge towels.  Maureen put the cleaning detergent into the dishwasher and started it. She was in such a hurry to help clean up the mess that she forgot to tend the vegetables.

            Jessica filled a fresh pitcher of water and started toward the table.  Matthew rushed in.  “What’s all the commotion about?” he asked excitedly, not seeing that he was on a collision course with Jessica.

            Another pitcher of water ended up on the floor.

            “Matt-hew!” Maureen said in exasperation. “Look where you’re going!”

            Matthew looked sheepish.  “Sorry, Maureen,” he apologized as he trotted into the kitchen, where he slipped and ended up on his back.

            “Oh no! You forgot to drain the dishwasher before you started it, Maureen!” Jana wailed. “Now we’ve got a HUGE mess!”

            “And I just finished cleaning up the first one!” Luke moaned.

            “Towels coming through!” Jacob called as he came back in.

            Maureen sniffed the air.  “The vegetables!” she yelled as she ran toward the stove, slipping into the water leaked by the dishwasher and falling, and then sliding into Jana, who was carrying another pitcher of water to the table.

            The pitcher crashed to the ground, enlarging the puddle that was already present.

            “What is going on?” Their father stepped into the house from the garage, carrying his work lunchbox.

            “Dad! Don’t step there!” Matthew yelled from his position by the drawer of dishtowels.

            It came too late.  Their father ended up in a puddle with Maureen, his lunchbox flying into a partly filled bag of flour, knocking it off the counter into the puddle that Jacob was desperately trying to clean up.   Jacob was left in the middle of a sticky, pasty mess.

            The lunch box didn’t stop there!  Jessica, carrying yet another pitcher of water to the table, shrieked as the box crashed into the pitcher and caused it to fall, adding to the sticky mess created by the flour.  The lunchbox crashed to the floor, opening and spilling its contents.

            Jessica glanced at it from her sprawled position on the floor. “Dad brought cookies home, and now they’re ruined!” she cried out as she burst into tears. “And it’s my fault!”

            “What on earth is going on?”  Their mom came upon the messy scene.

            “I wanted to show Maureen my spider, and-“Jacob began.

            “An’ he bumped into me and spilled my water!” Jana interrupted.

            “Then-“ Luke and Maureen started simultaneously, but they broke off as Christy, the oldest child of the family, came in the door of the garage.

            “Don’t step there!” everyone yelled.

            Christy froze. “What’s going on?”

            The door burst open and the third youngest child, Martina, flew in. The sudden motion knocked Christy into the puddle that she had been warned about.

            “MOMMM!” Martina yelled. “Freddie found matches, an’ he was playing with them, and he set the shed on fire!”

            “Oh NO!” everyone moaned aloud.

            Mom moved gingerly through the mess.  “Start cleaning up,” she ordered the kids as she followed Martina out the door.

            Luke, the only one who so far hadn’t had an accident, ran to get more big towels as everyone picked themselves up and got out mops, sponges, and soapy water.

            Luke soon appeared, virtually buried under a mound of towels. He stepped carefully into the kitchen and started handing them out. He had almost emptied his arms when his feet encountered a small puddle than no one had been aware of. He slipped, dropped the towels, tripped on a towel, and flew forward.  His face landed in the pan of forgotten and burning vegetables.

            “YEE-OWWW!” he screeched in pain.

            Maureen threw down the towel she was holding and pulled him out.  Then she hurried him to the sink and set cold water running on his face.

            The mess was well on its way to being completely cleaned up when Mom, who was holding Freddie in her arm and Martina by the hand, ran onto the house.

            “Call the fire department!” Mom yelled.

            Christy grabbed the phone as she threw her towel aside, and began dialing.

            The mess was gone and everyone was outside watching the fire when a fire truck roared down the driveway.

            Mom and Dad went to meet it, having sent the children into the house.

            “I feel sick,” came the voice of Benjamin, the youngest child, from down the hall.           

            Maureen got to her feet. “Do you need a pot?”

            “No, but my bed sheets need to be changed,” he said, a look of pure innocence on his face.

            At Christy’s beckoning, Jessica followed a frazzled Maureen down the hall.  Christy shook her head. “And I thought my day at college was bad.”

            The fire engine departed half an hour later, Benjamin’s bed was clean, and various cuts and bruises tended to, when…

            Luke looked out the window. “Someone’s here.”

            “Oh no!  Our guests are here!” Maureen groaned.

            Mom opened the garage door. “Hon,” she said to her husband, “I know this is a bad time, but…the water pipe in the chicken coop just burst."




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