The Man in the Box, Chapter 6
February 28, 2014 4 Comments
I just turned in the final edits for my revised edition of The Man in the Box. Enjoy this sample chapter while we await the rerelease date. And don’t forget to like The Man in the Box on Facebook for updates!
Both kids had managed to push Rosalynn close to her breaking point. Between Jeremy getting sent home from school early because of a fight he had gotten into over stolen crackers at lunch and Taylor refusing to get off of her iPhone to help with the packing, Rosalynn was ready to just call a babysitter and leave the kids at home while she and Robbie enjoyed Hawaii all to themselves. But she had to keep reminding herself that they were the reason they were going in the first place. Maybe she and Robbie could at least upgrade to first class while they left the kids in coach.
She had texted this suggestion to Robbie earlier, but she hadn’t heard back from him. In fact, she had called him when he was due home an hour ago. It was unlike him to be late, but she figured he was probably swamped with last-minute stuff to do before vacation. That was understandable; she just wished he would let her know he’s all right and tell her he’d be late coming home.
“Mom, Caitlin wants me to spend the night since I won’t see her tomorrow or for the next week,” announced Taylor, from halfway down the stairs with her iPhone clutched to her hand.
“Doesn’t she have school tomorrow? Her mom wouldn’t allow that,” replied Rosalynn as she fished through the cupboards for pasta shells.
“She already told her mom and she’s okay with it.” Taylor was standing at the edge of the kitchen now, dressed to go out. “I’ve already got my stuff thrown together. And I was thinking maybe you could let me drive since she’s just a couple blocks away.”
“You packed for a sleepover that was just planned, but you can’t manage to pack for Hawaii anytime in the last four months?” asked Rosalynn. “No, I’m not letting you go over there. You’ve got to pack, and I don’t want to have to drive back over first thing in the morning just to pick you up.”
“Can you guys shut up?” yelled Jeremy from the living room. “I’m trying to watch my show.”
“Don’t say that word,” Rosalynn responded. “Next time you say that to me, the TV goes off.”
“So can I go?” asked Taylor.
“No. No, you can’t go,” said Roslaynn pulling out the dish pan and gathering the cheese and the grater. “I’m not letting you go to Caitlin’s so you can keep her up all night on a school night, and you’ll end up sleeping all day tomorrow when you’re supposed to be packing; she’ll probably fall asleep in class. No. But if you want to go to school tomorrow, I can take you and you can see Caitlin there. How does that sound?”
“Sure,” said Taylor, “that’s fine by me. I’d rather go to school than stay here anyway. No offence, but I really don’t want to go to Hawaii anyway.”
“You’re bringing this up now?” asked Rosalynn, though she didn’t know why she was so surprised.
“Me, either!” yelled Jeremy. “I hate fish. I’d rather stay here and eat chicken.”
“Seriously, can’t he stay out of any of my conversations?” asked Taylor. “For a kid with ADD, he sure knows how to tune in.”
“Well I’m sorry, but we’ve already got your tickets paid for, and I know it’s rough being away from all of your friends for a week, but it’ll go by fast; I promise. Now, can you please leave me alone so I can have dinner ready before your dad gets home?”
“Where is he anyway?” asked Taylor. “He’s never this late.”
“He’s got a lot to finish before his day off tomorrow, that’s all. He’ll be home soon,” Rosalynn said.
Taylor glanced down at her iphone when it chirped at her, then looked back up to Rosalynn. “So, no?”
“No. Go upstairs and pack.”
Taylor huffed as she walked off, saying, “I’m not even going to start packing until tomorrow anyway.”
“That’s fine. You can get a head start on all your procrastinating tonight,” said Rosalynn, rolling her eyes and unwrapping the mozzarella. Cooking was solitary for Rosalynn. She felt comfortable and in her element in the kitchen. It’s where everyone else in the family was too afraid to go, and she secretly preferred it that way. If Rosalynn needed time to herself, she would cook, because she knew that at least there, no one would bother her.
Robbie had come up with a code for the kids to warn them that she was in cooking mode— “Chef Snappy’s in the house.” Snappy, because of the way she tended to snap at people if they got in her way in the kitchen. She didn’t do it purposefully or out of spite—she just put her all into whatever she was preparing; cooking was her zone. She realized a few years too late that that’s why Taylor hardly knew how to boil an egg, because she never took the time to teach her how to cook. She pitied her future husband and would be sure to apologize to him once they were married.
She felt she did right by her children in every other sense. She always helped them with their homework, made sure they were properly groomed for school, minded their manners at the table, put her foot down on what they were or were not allowed to watch and how much (often fighting Robbie every step of the way on that one). Where Robbie was parentally weak, she was strong. But Robbie was much better at dealing with discipline if they ever defied her—one of the few things he wouldn’t stand for, and he usually had good discernment when it came to how much arguing amongst siblings was too much—which was a wonder since Robbie was an only child. Rosalynn felt like she and Robbie were a good team when it came to the kids, but tonight, she really could have used his help.
She called him once more only to be taken straight to his voicemail again. His office had closed two hours ago.