“Dear, try not to eat so quickly, and hold your head a little farther away from the food. You too, Iris. There’s no need to eat like farmhands.” We were all seated around the table. Luther mumbled something at my right elbow, and Locke, on my left, snickered. Iris glared at us from across the table. She sat in between Bertrand and Holden, who was in deep conversation with Lyre. Dashiell made a spluttering noise from the other side of Hobbes, and mom became distracted with him. Most of us, including our father, took advantage of this and began shoveling the food in as quickly as we could. By the time she looked up again, almost every plate had been cleaned.
“The chicken was so juicy.”
“Very good seasoning.” She beamed.
“Who wants seconds then?” she asked, and busied herself with refilling the offered plates. She looked up as the phone rang, annoyed. Iris jumped up from the table, violently pushing her chair aside.
“It’s probably Zach-ar-ry,” she sang.
“Young lady! You finish your dinner. You asked for seconds and you will eat them.” Mom eyed her sternly, hands on her hips.
“I’ll eat it,” Bertrand offered. Iris smiled and began searching for the phone.
“Even so, Iris needs to sit down until everyone has finished supper. It isn’t as if we haven’t been through this before.” Iris looked indignant, and began to protest.
“Listen to your mother,” dad said, without looking up from his conversation with Locke.
“If you argue with me anymore, you will be going straight to bed, and I’ll take your phone and laptop away. Understand? Answer me.” She scowled until our fuming sister nodded and sat down, pouting. “Anyway, Lyre. When are your SAT scores supposed to come in? I know you’ve told me, but…”
“Hey, Locke,” I whispered.
“Where did you hide the cookies?”
“Shhhh. Iris’ll hear you and take them all. We’ll get them later.”
“Swee-“ I was interrupted by a hot argument from across the table. Lyre appeared to be trying to pin Bertrand to the ground. After a few moments, she had succeeded and was sitting on him as Holden and Luther laughed. I joined in.
“Don’t you ever call my friend that word ever again! Hear me? Answer me,” she hissed. Dad was trying not to laugh.
“Lyre, really. Such an outburst, and at your age! I’m surprised at you,” mom began.
“Lyre, get off of your brother. Bertrand? Don’t rile her. I’ve never seen her angry at anyone but you and Iris,” father said, ignoring our brother’s spluttered protests. “You must be doing something to aggravate her. So stop.”
“…And that is why she and Holden aren’t exactly alike,” Locke observed quietly in my ear.
“Yeah. Jeez. I guess it’s good to know she possesses a temper.”
“Or, you know, any human emotion.” We laughed.
“Is everyone finished? I made pound cake.” Mom began bustling about the kitchen as we cleared our dishes, dumping them unceremoniously into the overflowing sink.
“It’s your turn to do the dishes,” I called to Holden. He nodded.
“I know. Ugh, and there are so many tonight. Really mother, you use too many dishes when you cook.” Lyre nodded vigorously.
“I know, right,” she agreed.
“Well, I could stop cooking, if you all would prefer. Ah, now who wants cake? Line up, for heaven’s sake! You aren’t going to starve…”