Charles squirmed in his lumpy old bed, lifted the duvet and looked at the stomach that, despite being flat, Sam, his older sister, called ‘blubber’. It duly rumbled.
“Now, Chuck!” Sam added.
“Alright!” Charles hollered, before oozing out of his bed and on to the floor. He sat there for a few seconds, back against the mattress, then took a deep breath and stood up, all six feet four of him.
Throwing on an already-worn t-shirt, slung over the corner of an open wardrobe door, he slipped into his jeans then plodded downstairs, rifling through his ruffled dark-blond hair.
His younger sister Rosie greeted him at the bottom of the stairs, holding out both hands proudly. “It’s a squirm!” she announced.
“No, dear,” their mother Deirdre said, walking past, holding a mug of sludge-like tea, and heading for the dining room. “It’s a worm.”
Charles grimaced, Rosie grinned.
“Squelch!” Rosie beamed. Charles frowned.
“She’s learning all the S.Q. words,” Sam explained, heading in the same direction as Deirdre, and holding an equally unappetising mug.
As the words flowed from Rosie’s mouth, Charles followed her into the kitchen where she put the worm down on to the counter and, with still-muddy hands, poured herself some cereal.
When she’d finished, Charles took the box from her, poured some for himself then milk for both of them, sat on a high stool, and switched on the TV hoping for something stimulating. He wasn’t disappointed. The news told of the local politician’s latest blunder, the final day of the Grand Prix, the racing cars’ frisson of colour, and the regional weather. “Stormy, just how I like it,” Charles said.
Beside him, Rosie clapped. “Squormy!”
“No Rosie, stormy.”
Rosie then ran to the back door.
“It’s raining,” Charles warned, but then realised she wasn’t heading outside.
She slumped to the floor, sprawled as flat as a DIY bookshelf, then squealed as she stared at a face peering back at her through the cat flap. “Hello Mr Squirrel,” she chirped. The rodent chirped back. “Charlie! Mr Squirrel said ‘hello’!”
“Squirrel!” Rosie shouted, scaring the animal away.
“Yeah, Rosie, whatever you say.”
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