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Peas & Carrots
by Danielle Burris

November 2000:

It’s Thanksgiving. The Colton's have just arrived at Aunt Martha’s House. Aunt Martha opened the door, holding baby Amy on her hip. “Welcome, Happy Thanksgiving,” Come on in!” she said. Ben and Betsy head to the kitchen with homemade pies. Max & Sam ran past the decorated Christmas tree and headed upstairs. The kids are gathered around their new playstation 2 while Nick is playing the game. “I’m next, says Sam.

An hour later, Aunt Martha announces “Dinner’s ready”. The kids sat at their own table. Mom dished up their plates. She whispered in Max’s ear “Be sure and eat your veggies,” as she handed him the plate. The smile left Max’s face when he saw what his mom had dished up for him. He stared down at his plate. Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing (Yum), and what’s that on my plate?  He thinks to himself. I hate peas and carrots!! Green, icky peas and carrots. Yuky!  Max looks around the room. The adults are deep in conversation. Sam watches his younger brother. Max looks at Sam. The eyes say “Don’t do it”. The doorbell rings. The dog starts barking. The baby starts crying. Music is playing in the background. It's as if all hell has broke loose. Max see’s his opportunity. He quickly scoops up the veggies and puts them in his pocket. “Mom! I’m done”, he says. As Max heads to the bathroom,  Sam comes up from behind and slaps his pocket, squishing the peas. Then he laughs and keeps on laughing. “That's not funny, Sam!” Max says. Hard as he can, Max punches him. Sam hits him back. Max starts to cry. The dog starts licking Max’s pocket. Sam chants you’re a woosie! Woos, woos, woos!  Max cries MOOOOM! Mom responded as she had many times before  “That’s enough boys!” 

Walking to school after the Thanksgiving holiday a kid jumps out from hiding behind a wall. Max says “ Hi, Eddie.” Eddie blocks the sidewalk. “What do you want, Eddie?”
“Give me your lunch money”
"I said give me your lunch money!”’
“What if I don’t?”
“If you don’t give me your lunch money, I’m going to give you a knuckle sandwich”, he said, waving his fist in Max’s face. Max gave Eddie the money.

That night Max and Sam were getting ready for bed. Max said, “Hey Sam, have you ever had someone take your lunch money?”
“No, why?”
“This kid Eddie Richards, makes me give him my lunch money”
“What if you don’t give it to him?”
“Then he’ll give me a knuckle sandwich”
“I think you should tell Dad.”
“If I tell Dad then he’ll tell Eddie’s parents, then he’ll beat me up.”

A few weeks go by.. . The kids  just left for school. Betsy and Ben are in the kitchen.
“Honey, do you have 20 dollars for my lunch?"
“I’ve given all my cash this week to Max for his lunch”.
Ben responds “That’s funny, because I have also been giving Max lunch money”.
“You are kidding me.”
“What is going on here?” 
“I don’t know, but I’m about to find out!“ says Ben.

Later that night, Ben finds Max in his room. He says to him, ”How was your day, son?”
Max answers, “fine”.
“Is there anything you would like to tell me?”
Sam pokes his head in. Ben says “Sam this doesn’t concern you”. He shuts the door.
“Max, your mother and I would like to know why you have been collecting lunch money from both of us the past few weeks”.
“Because I needed the money?”
“I don’t think so. How about the truth?”
“This kid Eddie Richards has been taking my lunch money before school every day. He says he’s going to give me a knuckle sandwich if I don’t give it to him.”
“Son, this boy is a bully. Here’s what you are going to do: Next time Eddie asks you for your lunch money, you are going to say no. If he hits you, you are going to become a tornado and hit him with everything you got.” “If you stand up to him, he’ll stop bothering you.” 
“Really, Dad?”
“Yes, really.”
“But I’m scared”
“It’s ok to be scared”
“Ok Dad, I’ll do it.”

The next day Ben gets a call from the school. “Your son has been in a fight, '' says the school principal. When Ben walks into the school office, he sees Max with his clothes all dirty, his hair disheveled, a black eye and the biggest grin on his face that he had ever seen.
“I did it Dad, I stood up to him and when he punched me I didn’t even feel it! I gave him a bloody nose, and then he ran away!”
The principal says “We’ll be having a talk with Eddie and calling his parents.”

Summer  2020:

It's a beautiful summer day. Max, his wife Debbie and son Eli have arrived for dinner at Sam’s house. Sam is barbequing out in the backyard. Sam’s wife Tina, along with Grandma Coltan and friends are preparing the rest of the food in the kitchen, dancing to the music. The kids are playing in the pool. Sam and Max give each other a big hug.
“Good to see you Bro” says Sam
“Thanks for inviting us,” says Max.
Sam says “Did you see the mother-in-law house that I’m building for Mom?”
“Since Dad is gone, I thought Mom might enjoy being closer. She seems to like the idea. The house is right over here…

Tina announces  “Dinner’s ready! You kids out of the pool, it's time to eat.” Debbie dishes up a plate for Eli. He stares down at his plate. He thinks to himself  Yuk! I’m not eating that! I hate vegetables” Then he looks around to see if anyone is looking… Sam’s son David giggles. Sam and Max both see what Eli is about to do. They look at each other and smile.