The world has gone completely crazy. Most of the United States is at some level of quarantine, and supplies of some things are either low or non-existant. Especially toilet paper.
We have a pandemic that is largely a respiratory illness, and people are hoarding toilet paper.
Besides not being able to find Charmin, Scott, Angel Soft, or any other brand on the shelves, I’m also going crazy having two teenage boys and my husband at home, since school and work are closed for all of us. I was hoping to dedicate this time to working on Book 5, but I’m still suffering the effects of writers block on that front.
I did, however, sit down this morning and scribble down a scene from a possible future novel featuring Kyr and Spook’s teenage children (yeah, yeah, spoiler alert, they’re going to get married somewhere along the line). In this little scene, the family is in quarantine because of some unnamed future plague, and Spook is reminiscing about something that may or may not have happened during the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020.
Teague sat with his chin propped on his fist, pouting as he slapped his cereal with his spoon. Kyr noticed her youngest child’s actions and brushed his hair out of his face to lay a hand on his forehead. “You’re not coming down with something, are you, Teague? You usually put away two bowls of Cocoa Puffs before I finish my coffee, but you’ve hardly eaten anything.”
Teague’s brown eyes flashed as he jerked away. “Mom! I’m not sick, and I’m not a baby. I’m just sick of this frickin’ quarantine.”
“Watch your language, please,” Kyr admonished gently as she sat down with her coffee. “I know you’re tired of this ‘social distancing;’ we all are.”
Declan poured another glass of orange juice and brought it to the table. “We’re all in the same boat, T. Might as well just deal with it.”
“That’s easy for you to say.” Chocolate milk splattered on the tablecloth as seeped in as Teague let his spoon drop into his bowl. “Your birthday wasn’t ruined, and your party wasn’t cancelled. Mom couldn’t even pick up my cake.”
“Would you stop acting like the baby you just said you’re not?” Declan glared at his brother. “You’re thirteen now; you’re old enough to deal with a little disappointment. People are dying from this outbreak, so I hardly think a birthday party matters in the grand scheme of things.”
“Oh, shut up, Declan,” Teague shouted.
“Yeah, shut up, Declan,” Raven repeated, smacking the back of his head as she walked past on the way to the fridge. “Just because no one would even come to one of your lame parties.”
“Who asked you, Ray?” Declan swung around, trying to seize her hand, but he wasn’t quick enough.
“All right, enough.” Kyr set her mug down and rubbed her temples wearily. A glance at the calendar reminded her that they were barely two weeks into the quarantine, with no end in sight. “Could you get along for just one day?”
Always the peacemaker, Rhodora jumped in. “Hey, Teague, since your birthday got ruined, you can have mine and do your party then. This whole mess should be over by then.”
“But then he’ll have to share my…our party,” Raven argued, sitting down next to their mother. “How is that going to work?”
“Oh, yeah. I guess you’re right.” Rhodora lowered her head and sat back, chagrined. She and Raven were ‘pseudo-twins,’ born on different days and different months. Raven had made her entrance just before midnight on October 31st, and Rhodora was born a few minutes into November 1st.
“I’m not waiting four months for my party,” Teague said. “And I’m not sharing a party with my sister.”
“I’m sorry, Teague,” Rhodora responded, almost in a whisper. “I was just trying to help.”
“It’s all right, Rhodora,” Kyr assured her. “Your heart is in the right place, and that’s what counts. “Now, Teague—“
“What’s all the hubbub out here?” Spook came into the kitchen and gave each of his children a stern look before meeting Kyr’s eyes.
“Cabin fever,” was all Kyr said as she sighed and got up to go to the coffeepot.
Spook chuckled grimly, knowing that his wife was at her wits end with four teenagers who couldn’t get out of the house as usual. “Well, at least this time there’s toilet paper,” he said. “Not like back in the Spring of 2020, when the whole world shut down over COVID-19, and folks hoarded toilet paper like it was a dysentery epidemic instead of a respiratory virus.”
“We know about COVID-19, Dad,” Declan said, getting up to take his glass to the sink. “Mom made us study it in history last year.
Spook’s eyes gleamed wickedly as he met Kyr’s gaze. “Well, I’ll bet she didn’t tell you about the overthrow of Duchess Drusilla Ptarmigan of Pendleton.”
All four teens shook their heads, and even Kyr shot him a questioning look as she poured his coffee. “What are you talking about? I don’t remember that.”
“How could you forget that, Kyr m’dear? Don’t you remember, her wedding to Prince Jean-Luc of Maltese was postponed because of the pandemic, and she threw a royal fit over it?” When Kyr continued to stare blankly at him, he went on, “She decided that Coronavirus or no Coronavirus, her show was going to go on, and if nothing else, she was going to live-stream from the palace grand hall.”
By this time, Kyr had figured out that he was spinning some grand yarn, so she played along. “Oh, yeah. I remember Drusilla. Entitled little brat.”
Spook crossed the kitchen and took the mug of coffee from his wife. “Well, her fiancé wasn’t thrilled about the plan, but he went along with it in the end, probably because he knew he’d hear it forever if he refused. The dressmaker’s shop, however, was closed down, just like every other business, and because the shop owner was in one of the high-risk groups, she refused to open, even for the Duchess.”
“So what happened?” Teague asked through a mouthful of Cocoa Puffs.
“The Duchess, entitled little brat that she was, took matters into her own hands and whipped up her own fancy wedding gown.”
Kyr knew the punch line was coming, so she quickly turned to the sink so the kids wouldn’t see her choking with suppressed laughter.
“See, the Duchess, like so many other people the world over, had been hoarding toilet paper, so she spent two whole days turning bathroom tissue into a ball gown. When she was finished, instead of an elegant dress made of chiffon and satin, she had this voluminous, frilly, ruffly mess made from Charmin and Scott.”
All four teens stared at him, mouths agape, not sure if he was telling the truth or not. Finally, Raven ventured to ask, “So what happened?”
“She kept her promise to live-stream her wedding ceremony. So with just herself, Prince Jean-Luc, her mother and his father, and the Archbishop, she started the show. To say the least, with the worldwide toilet paper shortage, that dress didn’t go over well with the Pendletonians at all. Within minutes, hundreds of people broke quarantine and stormed the palace. They broke down the main door, charged into the grand hall, and tore that gown right off her, piece by two-ply piece. Soon the cops came, and the U.S. had to send troops in to contain the ensuing riots. Drusilla was overthrown, and Pendleton was annexed by Luxembourg. It was all over the news and on YouTube.” He took a long sip of coffee. “You should check it out.”
Four sets of eyes stared incredulously at him for a moment as the story sank in. When at last Kyr couldn’t hold in her laughter any longer, Raven rolled her eyes almost audibly and declared, “Dad, serioiusly, that did not happen.”
“Sure, it did,” he said, going to the table and taking a donut from the open box. “Pendleton isn’t on the map anymore, is it?”
Raven let out a huff and flounced out of the room, followed closely by Rhodora. Declan narrowed his eyes at his father and then laughed at the joke on all of them before heading out the back door. Teague said nothing, but turned his attention to his now-soggy Cocoa Puffs.
Still laughing, Kyr slipped an arm around Spook and asked, “Why do you do these things?”
Spook grinned down at her and took a bite of his donut before responding, “Keeps me sane, Kyr m’dear. Keeps me sane.”