A mid-week story

‘Don’t blame Max, he was just trying to help,’ Sophie said.

‘Well, he shouldn’t have. I lost my chore money because of him.’

Jonathon skulked across the kitchen and pulled bread out of the packet before slapping the slices down on the counter.

“Mum and Dad will give you the money, I promise, especially after this.’ Sophie moved around the breakfast counter and reached for the kettle. ‘Let me help, you’re making a mess.’

Reluctantly Jonathon allowed his big sister to help him make breakfast. He was only ten and he felt that being responsible for eggs, toast and hot drinks was a bit much so he was grateful for the offer. He placed the bread gingerly in the toaster and then retrieved the small pan at the back of the cupboard and went to the sink to fill it with water.

‘Wait’ protested Sophie, ‘if you fill the pan with cold water it will take ages to boil, and the toast will be cold. Turn the toast off, we can do that last.’

At fourteen Sophie was a natural bossy-boots, but she often helped Mum make breakfast on the weekends and Jonathon didn’t want to get another task wrong, so he did as he was told.

Sophie carefully poured the boiling water from the kettle into the pan on the hob, and then told Jonathon to wait for it to bubble. She refilled the kettle for drinks.

‘Can I help?’

The voice from the kitchen door was thick with sleep and the question was punctuated by a large yawn from the youngest member of the Boyd family who had just tumbled himself out of bed.

Jonathon groaned. ‘No Max, I don’t want your help. I let you help before and you ruined it and now I need to make Mum and Dad breakfast to make up for it.’

Max’s bottom lip quivered and his eyes became glassy as they started to tear up.

‘Jonny,’ Sophie scalded – she was good at that too – ‘give him a chance. Maybe he could pick some flowers for the tray?’ she suggested as she went to Max and ruffled his hair in sympathy.

Jonathon looked down at Max, whose four year old eyes were wide with innocence and sent out a silent plea to be forgiven and welcomed back into the sibling gang.

‘Fine’ Jonathan relented, grateful at least that Max would be out of the kitchen and unable to ruin the gesture of apology for his previous misdemeanour that had, after all, been all Max’s fault.

Max immediately jumped out of Sophie’s arms and went to pull on his wellies that sat next to the back door. Sophie unlocked it and wedged it open with a shoe, so as to keep an eye on him, and pointed out a couple of flower beds that she knew Mum wouldn’t mind being disturbed. ‘Don’t get too dirty’ she instructed.

‘Argh, Sophie, the water’

Sophie turned and saw Jonathon at the cooker attempting to rescue the pan that contained ferociously boiling water .

‘Jonathon’ she yelled. ‘Leave it. I’ll get it.’ She marched over and turned down the hob, then, seeing that much of the water had boiled away, took the recently boiled kettle and refilled it. ‘Keep it on a lower heat, and add the eggs as soon as you see bubbles. Use this.’ She handed him a large spoon.

Jonathon sighed. This was harder than he had thought. But, he needed to do it right. He knew Mum and Dad had been disappointed in him for messing up the last chore, even though he knew it was Max’s fault. He should never have let Max help. The water began to bubble and Jonathon carefully took an egg out of the carton and balanced it precariously on the spoon then, shaking only slightly, he lowered it into the pan.

‘How long for Dad’s?’ he asked. He had been planning to put them in all at the same time, but he knew Mum preferred her egg gooey, so he hoped with Sophie’s expertise, he could get it just right.

‘Erm, six minutes,’ Sophie suggested. She wasn’t entirely sure, but knew that Jonathon didn’t know either so it was safe to take a guess. “Add Mum’s in two minutes and that should be about right.’

Jonathon fixed his eyes on the digital clock on the oven. 8.38am. At 8.40 he repeated the process of adding another egg to the water.

Just as he was putting down the spoon, Max raced into the kitchen with a chubby handful of wilting flowers, and a larger amount of root and soil attached to each.

‘I got them’ he announced proudly, holding them out for Jonathon to approve.

Sophie laughed. Max had a dirty hand print across his pyjama top and a smudge of dirt smeared across one cheek.

‘I told you not to get too dirty’ she chastised lovingly. ‘Come-on, let’s get those in a vase and some water then find you something clean to wear.’ She cast a wicked glance in Jonathon’s direction who scowled and turned his back on her to check on the eggs.

While Sophie set about trimming the flowers down to a suitable arrangement, Jonathon popped the bread back in the toaster and put out plates, egg cups and cutlery on two trays. He was almost done; surely Mum and Dad would forgive him for the previous mistake. He certainly wouldn’t make it again.

‘Don’t forget to take the eggs out Jonny’ Sophie said, as she retrieved a clean t-shirt from the ironing pile to make Max more presentable for their parent’s Sunday morning treat.

Jonathon’s eyes shot to the digital clock – 8.46. Oh no, they would be too hard boiled for Mum. Quickly, Jonathon turned off the gas and desperately tried to catch the bobbing eggs with his spoon. His brow furrowed in concentration, his tongue protruded ever so slightly from between his lips as he caught them one by one and battled to get them sat just right in the egg cup.

Sophie was behind him at the kettle making the drinks for him.

‘Thanks Sophie’ he muttered, as he collected the toast, burning his fingers at the tip in his hurry to get them buttered and onto the plates.

‘Aren’t you doing soldiers?’ Max enquired curiously.

Jonathon sighed, Max was right. Every time he had a boiled egg he liked to have soldier to dip in, or to nibble on. He wasn’t sure about using the knives though – Dad had told him off once for being careless when trying to help make dinner – so, in a moment of genius, Jonathon got out the scissors and cut the toast into thin strips, laying them neatly on the plate.

‘Cool’ Sophie commented, as she deposited drinks on each tray. ‘Wait, which one is Mum’s?’

Jonathon stared at the two trays. He had no idea. In his effort to get the eggs out of the pan and into the egg cups, he didn’t have a clue which egg was which.

‘That one’ he said, pointing to the tray on the left, hoping his voice sounded more certain than he felt.

Sophie reached over and switched the mugs around. Mum liked sugar in her tea, whilst Dad hated it.

‘Okay, let’s go’ she said, carefully lifting one tray leaving Jonathon to get the other.

Half way up the stairs, watching the tea on the tray with steely concentration to make sure he didn’t spill, Jonathon realised he had forgotten the salt.

‘Quick, Max’ he whispered urgently

Max’s head popped up beneath the tray.

‘Go and fetch the salt. I forgot it.’

Max grinned at his brother, if he did this he would be forgiven for messing up Jonathon’s chore yesterday and they would be friends again. He raced back down the stairs, scrabbling to the kitchen and grabbing the salt. By the time he had galloped back up the stairs, Sophie and Jonathon were just entering Mum and Dad’s bedroom.

‘Mum, Dad’ Sophie called gently, as she crossed into the room.

They were already awake, propped up by pillows and smiling in surprise at their breakfast in bed treat.

‘Wow, this is great,’ Mum gasped as Sophie set her tray down.

‘I could get used to this’ echoed Dad, as Jonathon carefully passed his tray across, noticing that Sophie has spilt a tiny bit of tea whereas his remained perfect.

‘I have the salt’ announced Max, as he vaulted up onto the bed between them, ruining Jonathon’s proud clean tray, as the bed bounced on impact jolting his parents and their breakfast, spilling tea.

Jonathon stood back as he watched his parents tuck into their breakfast happily, and smiled gratefully as Sophie said:

‘It was all Jonathon really. Max picked the flowers on your tray Mum, and I just made the drinks. Jonathon did the rest.’

Mum and Dad’s eyes rested proudly on their eldest son, and smiled softly.

‘I wanted to do it to say sorry about yesterday’ Jonathon added, wanting to make his motives clear.

‘Well,’ said Dad, glancing around the room at his family, ‘you have certainly done that. You can make breakfast in bed for me and Mum every weekend if you like,” then he cheekily added, “rather than do the washing?’

Everyone but Jonathon laughed out loud, and Jonathon realised then that they were all wearing something he had put in the washing machine the day before. Max in a faded pink t-shirt, Sophie in her previously white fleecy jumper, and Mum and Dad in light pink tie-dye effect pyjamas. Jonathon shook his head and realised the joke was on him.

Suddenly Max leapt up and threw a leg in the air.

“And look what I found’ he announced with clear pride and excitement, a big grin across his sweet face.

The Boyd family looked at Max’s proffered foot neatly encased in a bright red sock, and Jonathon found himself unable to remain embarrassed and joined in with the fresh bout of laughter.

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