the short story project



The smell of the freshly cooked pot roast filled the small kitchen. Father was hard at work mashing the potatoes as Mother began to set the table. Four plates, four forks, four knives, four napkins. Each thoughtfully placed an inch apart. She unconsciously smiled as she did so, but looked like she might be on the verge of tears. Father continued his work with the potatoes, completely focused and ignoring the smattering of loud racket and screams coming from outside the house. His face was red with nerves, but he didn’t want Mother nor either of the kids to see. He didn’t want them to worry.

The children walked in to join their parents and quietly sat at the table. Daughter’s eyes were puffy and red as she sat still, trying to hold the rest of the tears in. Son had a thousand-yard stare that didn’t focus on anything in particular. Couldn’t focus, really.

Mother gently took the children’s plates and placed healthy portions of the roast and mashed potatoes on each before putting them back on the table.

“Eat up,” she said with a hollow, empty voice. “If you’re good, maybe you can have seconds.”

Father took his plate and filled it with food. The children had already begun to eat silently.

A loud explosion outside shook the house. Mother winced and dropped her plate. Bits of expensive china and mashed potatoes spread over the kitchen floor. Without bothering to clean it up, she simply opened the cupboard, grabbed another plate, and continued.

The steady shaking outside made the all the plates in the kitchen rattle. It was an eerie sound. That, along with the sounds of the family eating, was the only other sound coming from the kitchen. They sat in silence as they ate.

Another explosion. A bigger one this time. Closer. More screams coming from outside. Daughter began to openly weep as Son still sat quietly at his plate, eating and seemingly unaffected by the sounds.

Mother took Father’s hand and looked at him with a face full of worry.

Father simply ate. He knew nothing else to do.

“The roast is delicious, honey,” he said.

A third explosion tore through the roof, revealing the black and red sky.

Son screamed.

“Thank you, sweetheart,” Mother said.

And it was over.



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