TITLE: Big Bright Thing
GENRE: Adult Contemporary Women’s Fiction
The children were crying again. I shoved the pizza bagels in the toaster and rushed to the living room, afraid of what I’d find-a limb tangled in a chair leg, a head bleeding from an impact with the corner of a table.
But Judith and Pomona were just tugging on either side of a tablet, crying over who got to choose which app to play.
I took the tablet away. The crying intensified.
“When we fight, we lose screen privileges,” I said.
“That’s not fair!” said Pomona. “I was playing with it, and she took it from me!”
As wrong as it was to punish Pomona for something her sister allegedly did, I couldn’t reward her for having a tug-of-war with a two-year-old. “She’s only two,” I said. “She doesn’t know better.”
“She knows better! She’s smiling!”
I turned around to see Judith’s face switch from an amused smile to raging tears. “Judith, I see you’re upset, but you can’t take things from your sister.” Her crying increased in volume, drowned out only by the fire alarm that started blaring in the kitchen.
I pushed past the girls and ran to the kitchen expecting to find a wall combusting from some sort of internal electrical fire, but it was only the toaster oven, emitting black smoke from where the cheese had melted off the bagels and hit the heating coils.
I pulled out the bagels. They had a grey tinge on top.