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Alien at Home Again

Brooks Mendell writes and runs a forestry business in Georgia. This story marks his third appearance in Daily Science Fiction. brooksmendell.com.
Daniel carried a kettle of boiling water out to the edge of the driveway where I stood reading the newspaper. "Two steps to the left, Dad, if you don't mind," he said, as I looked down at the melon-sized mound teeming with fire ants inches from my feet.
I walked away while scanning headlines about income inequality, tax cuts, and the national debt. My head tried to form a logical triangle, but it got distracted by the cries of unsuspecting ants as my ten-year old son separated their families and boiled their home in scalding water.
"That's what they get for invading our lawn without a permit," said Daniel.
"That a boy," I said. "Thank you for protecting our borders."
Watching the stream of dead ants flowing down the edge of the sidewalk and into the gutter made me question this form of justice. Who was the real intruder on this turf? And then I thought about the alien in our home.
"How are things in the house?" I asked.
"Fierce," said Daniel. "The she-wolves are engaged in titanic battle, Dad."
"Be nice," I said. "This is your mother and sister we're talking about."
"I am being nice," said Daniel, putting the lid back on the kettle and turning towards the house. I rolled up the newspaper tightly, staked it into the soggy remnants of the ant mound and followed Daniel.
"Don't yell at me," said my wife, leaning on the kitchen counter.
"Mom, I am mad," said Katina, "but please do not go into my closet!"
"You are yelling at me."
"You went into my closet and took out my favorite shirt and put it on eBay to sell," said Katina. "Don't you see what's wrong with this?"
"She has a point," whispered Daniel.
"It's not your shirt," said my wife. "It's my shirt."
"So does Mom," I whispered back.
"It was in my closet! Don't go in my closet!"
"Hey, Honey," I said to my wife. "Didn't save you the coupons today. I used them to mark Daniel's ant massacre in the yard."
"Thanks for throwing me under the bus," whispered Daniel.
"Shut up, Charlie," said my wife, keeping her eyes on Katina. "It was my shirt. You never wear it."
"Not true!" said my daughter. "I wore it when Marci came over when we made rice crispy treats and put perfume on the dolls."
"So that's where my Chanel No5 went," said my wife.
"Now I know what to get you for our anniversary," I said.
"Oh, I almost forgot," said Katina. "I'll make you guys dinner for your anniversary. That sound okay?"
The real-time metamorphosis of a bitchy teenage girl into the thoughtful disciple of Julia Child shocked the system. No matter how often our daughter did her Jekyll and Hyde transformation, we felt unprepared.
And grateful.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, August 27th, 2019


As parents, we sometimes see or hear things that just don't make sense. I also recall feeling the same way as a child.

- Brooks C. Mendell
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