Olive Branches, Chapter 12

This chapter was written by the younger version of me. 
Tuesday, September 8 – D.K. Laurier

“Imma invent a portable AC. It’s practically a desert out there.” Joel shoves the front door shut.

I roll my eyes. Joel’s pretty decent – for a little brother – but he’s always creating unnecessary solutions. 

“Or, you could just take my advice and run through the sprinklers.” I say, kicking off my shoes.

“But that would mean getting soaked. Dude, this’ll be epic! It’s gonna be the biggest invention of the decade! Portable AC’s powered by kinetic energy from your movement.” 

I have to admit, it’s a fascinating idea.

 But . . . “I’ll believe it when I see it. Your last invention; the automatic dog-walker thingy . . . I don’t get the point. Which dog would want to walk around and around in five-foot diameter circles? Plus, walks are supposed to be bonding time for dogs and humans. Why would you want to take that away from them?”

Joel winces. “You’ll see. One day I’ll make it big.”

I shrug. 

“ C’mon! Let’s see what Sean’s making!” He says, taking off across the hall. We make our usual post-school dash to the kitchen and leap onto the spinning bar stools. I cling to the edge of the chair as it whirls around. “Hey Sean!” I gasp. 

“Hey. You guys should really stop doing that.”  Sean says without turning from the stove. 

“Says the guy who started the tradition.” Joel hops off the stool and tries to peek at the food on the stove. 

“Ahh, back when I was young and reckless.” He shakes his head. 

“I’m famished! Whatcha making?” 

“Caesar salad, Italian-style garlic bread, spicy tomato soup with wintergreen, lentil stew, and empanadas made with Chuy’s recipe.” 

“Smells good! I could give up my birthright for that.”

Sean laughs. “Technically, I’m the one who has the birthright, little bro.” 

Just then, the front door clicks open. “Hi childr . . . Debrah-Kay! Joel! I’ve discovered some lost shoes and knapsacks! Perhaps you both know to whom they belong?” 

It’s Mom. She’s still wearing her running tights and racerback blouse. 

And she’s wearing her irritated, no-nonsense frown. 

“Oops.” I grimace. 

Joel widens his eyes. “Sorry Mom! I forgot!” He walks into the hall and scoops up his possessions.

“Again.” She purses her lips

“My apologies. I’ll try to remember next time.” I grab my knapsack.

“I hope so. Or I might have to re-implement the fine system.” 

I shudder. Last time we had the fine system I had to return most of my allowance, since I kept forgetting to put my stuff back. 

“Not the fine system, Mom! I’ll try harder!” 

“Ok, D.K.” She smiles, putting her exercise mat into the closet. “Hi Sean, honey. You made dinner? It looks scrumptious. Ohh . . . I forgot to remind you all that we’re helping with church maintenance tomorrow evening. Cutting the lawn, trimming hedges, washing windows . . .” 

“What? I ain’t never signed up for that!” Joel protests, filling up his plate. 

“That is incorrect grammar. Instead of the double negative, use ‘did not sign up’ or just say ‘never’ instead.”   

“Whatevs.” Joel smirks

Sean winces. He’s usually a chill guy, but incorrect grammar is his pet peeve. 

“Is there a problem? I signed us all up. We should help take care of our church – plus, it’s good exercise!” 

Everything’s about exercise with Mom. No surprise there since she’s a fitness trainer. 

“But Mom, evenings are for chilling.” Joel starts to bite into a slice of garlic bread. 

“Watch it. We haven’t said grace yet.”

He drops it back onto his plate. 

“It would be a sacrifice for you to use your evenings, which you’d usually spend ‘chilling’, to help maintain the church yard, wouldn’t it?” She asked sweetly.

“Exactly!” He nods, and his bronze curls go flying into his face. 

“Which is why you should do it.” 


“It would be a sacrifice to God. He’s pleased when we make an effort to do things for Him, even when we don’t feel like it.” 

I giggle. Joel’s dug himself into a trap. 

He opens his mouth, then closes it. Finally “Fine. Will other kids be there?”

“I should think so.” Mom says.

Joel brightens. 

The door clicks open again and Dad tramps in, sporting fiery-red skin. Once again, I’m thankful for the extra melanin in my skin. It makes it harder for me to get a sunburn. 

“Good evening family!” He drops his boots on the doormat. 

“ ‘Sup.” Joel salutes

“Good evening.” Sean says

“Hey Dad!” 

Mom frowns at Dad, then at his boots. “Whoops.” He backtracks and kicks them into the closet. 

Mom relaxes. “How was your day, dear? I take it, you forgot sunscreen?” 

“Unfortunately, yes.” He grimaces and rubs his goatee. “But otherwise, my day was on the better side of normal. Picked up a few trigger-happy teens who couldn’t wait for hunting season to start, re-installed the wildlife cams and spotted a buck rubbing the velvet off his antlers.” 

“Lovely. Shall we talk more after we bless the meal? It would be a pity for this delicious spread to get cold, and —” Mom shoots a glare at Joel, who is trying to nibble a piece of an empanada “ — some people don’t have quite as much self-control as we do.” 

“Sorry.” He says sheepishly

After a delightful dinner (I can’t be bothered to list the details, just that we talked about Sean’s courses, Joel’s hatred of music class, my quite entertaining day at school, Dad’s disgust with hunting season, and Mom’s plans for spring-cleaning – in the fall) I wash the dishes, then flop onto the couch. 

Now what do I do? I could go biking, but my parents probably won’t let me since I’ve still got the cast on my left arm. I sigh. The cast is really holding me back, but that’s probably my fault. 

My quarterly and Bible are still lying on the side table. I probably should read them (it’s becoming a bad habit of mine to just skip it) but . . . Is it really worth it? 

I’ve been thinking about it since yesterday. 

I mean, studying the Bible, and even just being a Christian – it all brings so much division. 

As if to prove my point, Dad says, “Ham sandwiches? Seriously?”

“And what of it? Paul says in Romans 14 that people who believe it is alright to eat any meat should do so without being criticised, since they are accountable to God. And, God gave Peter the vision declaring that all foods are clean . . .”  Mom counters.

 “You’re taking that out of context. First of all, that paraphrase from Romans 14 wasn’t accurate. In addition, God gave Peter the vision because of Cornelius. The whole point of the vision was to show that Gentile believers shouldn’t be shunned. . .” 

“Besides, the Jews, when they were sending the list of three essential things to stay away from to the Gentile believers, they didn’t mention ‘clean’ or ‘unclean’ foods. They only said ‘don’t eat meat with blood or meat sacrificed to idols . . .” 

“Listen. Dietary laws didn’t get nailed to the cross. Jesus didn’t come to change the law . ..” Dad picks up his Bible

Sean sighs. “They are back at it again. I am going to do some science homework.”  He disappears upstairs. Joel follows, eyes glued to an iPad screen. 

I groan. It’s so . . . ridiculous. Taking one last look at my Bible, I grab a Sudoku book and settle in to tackle the numbers. Peaceful, drama-less numbers.

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Olive Branches, Chapter 12

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