Time to wrap up another month, which means it’s time for another short story as part of my plan to consistently get some words on the page each month. This month’s brief story grew out of last Friday’s random words and was influenced a bit, in terms of character, by the old English-set mystery books I’ve recently been reading (not that this is a mystery). The story turned out a bit different from the version that ran through my head on my drive home from work, but then that always seems to happen.
Anyway, without further ado, here’s this month’s story.
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Nigel vs. the Nephews
“No charades.” Oh, kill me now. Nigel Weatherby did his best to ignore the whine of disappointed voices and remained on the couch with his eyes closed against the midday sun, doing an excellent imitation of a boneless mass.
It was just an illusion though. When he wasn’t draped over the sofa thwarting his nephews, Nigel was a championship swimmer, as well as a black belt and who knows what else. He merely preferred to conserve energy for when it was absolutely necessary.
Charades in no way qualified as necessary.
His devious little sister may have tricked him into dragging his hung-over self out of bed this morning and agreeing to watch his nephews for a few hours, but he never said he’d play with them. Certainly not charades.
“But Uncle Nigel,” a discordant cacophony of childish voices wailed. “You promised.”
He didn’t bother answering, but his nephews continued on undeterred. They were a persistent lot; he’d give them that.
“You said if we played quietly for an hour so you could ‘rest your poor, aching head’, that we could choose what to do next.”
The little blighters had him there.
He yawned, stretched, uncoiled himself from the sofa and ambled to the bar in the corner of the family room, casually stepping over an abandoned train set and narrowly avoiding impaling his foot on a piece of track. He grabbed a bottle of soda water and popped the top. He’d have preferred a whiskey, hair of the dog as it were, but even he considered one o’clock in the afternoon too early for that. Barely.
“Mummy said not to touch that,” one of the tykes said. Dustin, maybe. Or was that Daniel? God knows what his sister and her husband were thinking when they decided to give all of the little darlings names starting with D. As if a last name like Dugenheimer wasn’t enough to live with.
“Yes, well, Mummy isn’t here,” Nigel said, glancing out the window in time to see the McKenzie twins pass by on their way down to the lake, their lush curves barely constrained by the skimpiest of bikinis that seemed to defy basic laws of gravity.
He’d never had twins before though if everything went as planned, he’d be checking that item of his bucket list later this evening. But first he had to make it through, he checked his watch, two more hours before his sister returned from whatever it was she was doing in town and set him free.
There was a sigh from somewhere near his left elbow. “He’s thinking about girls again,” said David. Or maybe that was Derek. Seriously, the whole freckle-faced, tow-headed brood needed name tags.
“Can we take out Nessie?” one of the boys asked, tugging on Nigel’s shirt.
Nigel turned toward the voice. “Who’s Nessie?
The whole lot burst out laughing. “Nessie’s not a who; it’s our canoe,” they said.
“We named it after the Loch Ness monster, because it’s green,” one of them added.
The smallest nephew tugged on Nigel’s sleeve. “Can we go fishing?”
“Mummy said we can’t leave the house,” Dustin/Daniel reminded him. “I think we should light a campfire and make s’mores.”
“We can’t have a campfire in this heat, you dummy,” David/Derek said, looking at his brother like he was some kind of idiot. “This is ice cream weather.” The boys began to argue.
Nigel shook his head and thought evil thoughts about his little sister. “No. No canoeing or fishing or ice cream. Definitely no campfire.”
The brothers continued to bicker back and forth about what they wanted to do while Nigel willed the hands on his watch to spring forward. How could it only have been six minutes since he last checked?
At this rate he’d be a raving lunatic before his sister ever returned. As he reached to slide open the window to let in what little bit of breeze there was outside, a young blond woman in an oversized sun hat, carrying a brightly coloured beach towel, a pair of deflated floaties, a picnic basket, and a sand bucket and shovel approached, followed by a number of little girls of assorted heights and ages. Ah, the nanny from the next cabin; Inga.
“Having a little trouble there,” she asked in response to the voices spilling out via the open window.
“Trouble? Heaven’s no. Just having a relaxing afternoon at home.”
“I can hear that,” she said with a smile.
He couldn’t help but smile back. “Well, maybe a little trouble,” he admitted. “I’m afraid the boys aren’t allowed out today – something about an incident involving a snake and the mailman. We’re having a little trouble agreeing on what to do this afternoon.”
“We wanted to play charades,” one of the boys said, “but Uncle said no.”
“Charades does sound like fun,” Inga said. At Nigel’s glare she added, “but do you know what would be even more fun? Building a blanket fort.”
Judging by how fast the boys raced off to gather up blankets, pillows, and whatever else one needed to build a fort, they were all in favour of the idea.
“Can we play too,” one of the girls asked.
Nigel opened the nearby siding door and waved them in. “Sure, the more the merrier.”
Before long, the entire family room was a sea of cushions, sleeping bags, and more, with not a nephew (or girl) in sight, though there were several suspicious lumps here and there. The place was a mess – served his sister right – but outside of sporadic giggling, peace and quiet had been restored.
“You’re a lifesaver,” Nigel said as he turned toward Inga. “How can I ever repay you?”
She smiled and gave him a look he had no trouble understanding. “Hmm. Perhaps you could help me cross something off my bucket list later on.”
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