Flash: Used Tissues

3D Green Tissue Box Stock Art

Image courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Melissa looked at the pile of tissues. Another headcold, maybe. She bit her lip. Then turned and trod determinably to the living room where her sons were studying.

Grabbing the remote control, she flicked off the Japanese cartoons before announcing, “Family meeting!”

The boys groaned and rolled over, setting aside the books they had been nearly reading. Attentively, well, as attentive as a 12- and 14-year old can be, they looked towards her.

“I’m no longer picking up the tissues beside your bed.”

“Mom!” LeVarr protested.

Alijah, her younger son, grabbed a couch pillow and buried his face.

“Just letting you know how it is. From now on you want things washed, they go into the hamper. You know that green thing in the bathroom you put your muddy cleats on. If they are not in there, they don’t get washed.” Melissa tucked the remote in her back pocket. “You want the trash emptied, you empty it. You want your bedsheets cleaned, you strip the bed. I will teach you how to wash your linens. Your bedrooms are now your own chore.”

LeVarr’s blush had subsided. “Cool!”

Knowing exactly what LeVarr was thinking, Melissa continued. “That does not mean I rescind my right to enter your room whenever I want. You are still my kids, and I will inspect the room. If we have guests over, the room will be clean.”

“Geez, it’s not like they go into there.” Alijah complained.

“Don’t care.” Melissa smiled grimly, while inside she both laughed and shuddered at what she was about to say. The adult in her loved teasing the boys; LeVarr developing understanding of adult humor made his sarcasm as sharp as hers, and he finally was getting to the point of being funny instead of just needing to be smacked. The mother in her wanted to run for the hills at the next bit of truth. “Someday you may have a girl in your bedroom,–”

“Mom!” LeVarr blushed deep enough to show through his dark skin.

“– not under my roof, but someday you may actually move out and get your own place. Before you are forty if I’m lucky. And when you do, you will be grateful for the habit of cleaning up everything before guests come over. Clear?”

“Yes, mom” Alijah’s reply overlapped with the teenage LeVarr’s affirmative, “As mud, my mudder.”

“Right. Finish your homework, and, Alijah, I want to look over that math assignment. LeVarr let me know when you are ready for your research paper so I can boot up the laptop. I’ll be cleaning the dinner dishes.” She paused a moment before adding. “And thanks boys, I love you.”

“Love you too mom.” They responded in unison before reaching for their schoolbooks.

She took the remote into the kitchen and wondered how long it would take them to realize it.

(words 476 – first publication 1/17/2016)