Just Right

by James

They were just easing out of the garage when Mama asked if he’d locked the back door. The car settled back on its springs.

Carefully, Dada said, ‘I locked the back door.’

‘Because you know what happened last time you didn’t lock the back door.’

‘I locked the back door.’

From the back of the car, a little voice, ‘Mum, I’m hungry.’

‘Hush, dear, we’re on our way.’

A few minutes later, that same little voice, ‘What are we having? Not salmon again?’

The windscreen perfectly clear, but Dada sprayed it and set the wipers going, muttering to himself, ‘There’s nothing wrong with salmon. Ate salmon all my life.’

‘He doesn’t have to have salmon. What would you like, dear?’

‘A scone. With cream! And jam!’

Another burst of windscreen washer action, another mutter, ‘Nothing wrong with salmon. Good for the eyes, all those omegas.’

A sigh from Mama, and they drove in silence a spell, until at last Dada said, ‘What about honey? How about a scone with cream and honey? Honey’s traditional.’

‘For heaven’s sake! At least the boy’s eating. Let him be.’

They completed the rest of the journey in silence, pulling into the empty car park of the cliff top pub. Mama said nothing, not even a sigh, but the way she crossed her arms, Dada couldn’t but help and blurt out, ‘It has been open, I swear!’

Mama looked at him. ‘When?’

Dada cleared his throat. ‘Nineteen sixty-four.’

‘We weren’t together in nineteen sixty-four. Who did you…?’

Mama looked once more at Dada. This time the crossing of her arms registered on a seismic readout in the University of Aberdeen.

Mama said, ‘It was with them.’

Dada gunned the engine.

‘Right! McDonalds it is! How about it Junior, forty-seven big macs?’

‘Yay! Maccy Dee’s!’

They hurtled out of the car park. Once the tyres had stop screaming Mama spoke.

‘It was the tiger and the donkey, wasn’t it.’

Dada tried a hopeful smile. Mama’s grimace deepened.

‘Now I know why you keep coming back here! This is where it happened: you and the donkey and the tiger. And the honey.’

Mama’s eyes fell shut and her head slipped to rest limply against her window. They drove in silence for a spell, and then that little voice from the back asked what would they be eating if the pub was closed.

‘It’s allright,’ Dada said. ‘We’ve always got the old standby.’

‘Awwwww, Dad! I hate porridge. Why do we even eat porridge? We’re bears.’

‘It’s traditional.’

Mama glared at him through one eye.

‘Oh yes, tradition. You’d know all about that wouldn’t you. A bear, a tiger, and a donkey?’

‘Don’t forget the honey, mum.’

Mama turned it into a double stare, with added arm crossing for good measure.

‘That’s right. The honey.’

Back at home, Junior charged into the kitchen. And stopped.

Mama took a look and then turned her triumphant glare on Dada.

‘I told you! But noooooo, I don’t need to check the door, and now LOOK AT IT! There is porridge on the ceiling!’

Dada cowered in silence.

From the vicinity of the bedrooms came a yelp, and then an uncertain voice, ‘Mum…she’s in my bed again.’ The voice livened. ‘Cor, you should see what she’s doing with the honey.’