Jeff cast him a stern look.“If there aren’t eggs and milk, eat something else. You think it’s easy running a house with four mouths to feed?”
Marie’s nose turned up. “You always eat more than your share. It’s not fair to the rest of us, you know.”
“Stop it, kids. No fighting.”Susan sighed. “I’m heading to the market today to pick up a few more rations,but it’ll have to hold us until the end of the week. We’ve almost used up all of our monthly spending points.”
“We could eat out,” Jake suggested.
“That takes money and you know there isn’t enough to go around. You like this house heated and with cable TV? You like those stylish clothes on your back?” Jeff stood and shoved his bar stool into the kitchen island.
The teenagers eyed it and the air in the room thickened. “He doesn’t mean it, Daddy. Do you?” Marie turned toward her brother, her ponytail lashing at the back of her neck.
“No.” Jake said quietly. His cheeks reddened. “I’m happy to eat whatever Mom can cook up.”
Susan patted his cheek. “Good boy. Better get off to school. The bus will be outside any moment.” She kissed each of their cheeks and handed Jake his lunch. “No trading at the lunch table again, understand?” The front door latched and Susan pivoted, placing her hands on her hips.
“What?” Jeff asked, placing her drained coffee mug in the dishwasher. “He’s insensitive and selfish.”
“In other words,” Susan said, grinning, “a teenager.”
“Well, I don’t have to like it.” Jeff huffed. His shoulders relaxed when Susan kissed his cheek.
“He’ll be our boy again once he’s through this phase. He’s a good kid, you know that.”
“I know, I know. I guess I just remember being him, before I moved here. What a dope I was to both my parents.” Jeff shook his head.
Susan rarely heard him talk about his time before New Haven,and she tried to pretend such times never existed. Her fingers twisted together and spun her wedding ring while her shoulders inched up her ears. “Speaking of your parents, we’re going to meet them this Sunday for some bingo after church service. I’m making an upside down pineapple cake.”
“Not more bingo.” He sighed.“Can’t we just serve the cake here?”
“I love bingo and you love me, so therefore…” Something on the counter caught Susan’s attention; it was Marie’s metal thermos. Eyes wide, Susan snatched it and charged out the front door. She sprinted down the street and over the residential hill. At the corner stood a group of students. The girls were dressed in proper skirts and high heels, while the boys wore pressed shirts and khaki pants. “Marie!” Susan called as the bus squealed to a stop beside them.
Marie glanced up with surprise, clutching her lunchbox in one hand and her school books in another.
“Sweetheart, you forgot your liquefied organ juice!”
Marie grinned and kissed Susan’s cheek. “Thanks, Mom! I don’t know what I’d do without you!”