Read on, if you are there, and enjoy. (If possible).
Oh dear...I'm starting to sound like Ciaran. This is baaaad.
PART FOUR: THURSDAY IN WHICH MY GUARDIAN LEARNS HOW TO SHOP IN 21ST CENTURY AMERICA
“Ok everybody,” I said, walking into the study and clapping my hands for attention. “It’s time for us to do some shopping.”
After prayer meeting at church last night, I had come home worried that the Mornelly family had disappeared. They hadn’t, much to my relief, and in the three sleepless hours following that scare I finally had time to think up an activity for us to do together. After all, I didn’t know how much longer they would stay with me at the time.
A groan came from Ciarán. “You mean I have to interact with strangers? Is this shopping trip optional?”
Bran and Aichear exchanged a glance. “Are you sure you need us all to go?” Bran asked.
I shrugged. “I guess you don’t have to come if you would prefer to sit around and read books.”
Aichear stood up with a sigh. “If you wish for our company, we will go.”
I shrugged again. “I honestly don’t mind if some of you want to stay behind. I can’t go alone though, and Mom is busy today.”
“I want to come,” Aileen spoke up from Aichear’s side. “I always love shopping.”
“I’ll come too,” Breandan added.
“Count me in!” Damhán exclaimed with a mischievous grin. “I’m the best shopper of the family.”
“Although he sometimes forgets to pay,” Ciarán said.
“I didn’t last time!”
“You almost did! Only because a little kid stopped you!”
“I was going to pay up anyways!”
“Oh sure you were.”
The argument was going down the wrong path. I intervened. “Guys, please.”
Ciarán and Damhán snapped their mouths shut and glared at each other.
“Damhán, you will have to remember that you’re in a dimension where people can see you,” I continued. “You can’t get away with things like taking turkeys from other people’s carts.”
His mouth dropped open. “You heard that story?” His gaze turned from surprise to suspicion and he narrowed his eyes. “Who told you that? Ciarán? Aichear?”
I held up my hands. “No, none of your brother’s told me. Let’s just say that I know more about you guys than you might think.”
There was a short silence.
“Shall we go?” Breandan asked finally.
I frowned. “There is one slight problem…I don’t have a driver’s license. Can any of you drive?”
“I could probably get the hang of it after a little while,” Damhán offered.
“Yeah, after he’s killed us all in a car accident,” Ciarán said darkly.
“…Or I could have Mom drop us off at a store,” I offered, seeing another argument brewing.
“Let’s do that,” Breandan said. “Some of us can drive, but we don’t have licenses, so we’d probably get in trouble.”
“Well, we don’t want that, do we?” I asked.
“No,” Breandan answered. “We don’t.”
In the end, Mom dropped us off and told us she’d be back for us in an hour. The first thing I did after we got a cart was consult our list and give a low whistle of surprise.
“We’ve got to get a move on if she’s expecting us to get all this in an hour,” I said.
“What does she need us to get?” Breandan asked.
“I’ll tell you on our way to the vegetable section,” I said, beginning to move in that direction. As I walked, I read off the list:
“Apples, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, tomatoes, bananas, a bag of grapes if they’re on sale, broccoli, three heads of cabbage: two green, one purple, and a few lemons in this section. Next, we need brown sugar, powdered sugar, garlic powder, nutmeg, and dill weed. After that we have to get three gallons of milk, two half-gallons of cream, and a carton of Greek yogurt because Dad likes it, as well as a container of almond milk for Tabitha. Then we have to get a couple pounds of chicken breasts and some lunch meat and sliced cheese for cold-cut sandwiches that we’re having tomorrow for lunch.”
“We’re buying all that?” Aileen asked with big eyes.
I nodded. “Yep.”
“Do we have enough money?” Damhán sounded worried.
I nodded again. “Yeah, Mom gave me enough right before she drove off. Worst case scenario: I might have to use some of my own money.”
“We should split up so we can shop faster,” Breandan advised. “I can take Aileen with me and we can go get the dairy items, the meat, and the cheese.”
“Sounds good,” I agreed with him enthusiastically. “We can meet in the spices section. There’s signs that tell you where the different sections are,” I added hurriedly, seeing the confused look cross my guardian’s face.
“Thank you,” he said, flashing me a grin. He took Aileen’s hand in his. “Let’s go do some shopping!”
“See you later!” I called as he walked away. As they disappeared around a corner, I turned to Damhán and rubbed my hands together. “Let’s hurry and get our part of shopping done!”
“So…what was the first thing on your list?”
“Apples,” I said after refreshing my own memory by reading the list one more time.
“Well, they’re over there,” Damhán pointed.
I pulled a bag from the shelf and put it in my cart. “And the bag of potatoes is right over there. Grab one please.”
Damhán did so and then pointed to the carrots sitting right next to the potatoes. “A bag of these too?” he asked.
I nodded. “Thanks. And right on the other side is the celery stalks could you run around and get one of those?”
“Sure!” he said.
“While you’re at it, get the broccoli and the three heads of cabbage. Two green; one purple.”
Meanwhile, I got the tomatoes, bananas, and a bag of grapes that were on sale, as well as the lemons. We got a bag of onions on the next isle before heading down to the baking goods section where I hoped to find the brown and powdered sugar.
I glanced down at my watch. “Twenty minutes,” I commented with a grin. “Not bad.”
“Maybe we’ll beat Breandan and Aileen to the next section,” Damhán said.
I raised an eyebrow. “Well, they had fewer items to buy.”
“Yeah,” Damhán agreed, “but you know your way around the store better than he does.”
“I guess we’ll have to find out when we get there…” I decided.
But we didn’t beat him. Breandan was already there and waiting patiently for me to tell him which brand of sugars we needed. I pointed out the right ones and we got everything else in a very short amount of time.
“That’s everything,” I said, taking a pencil from my purse and crossing off the last items. I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Now we have to check out.”
After a long wait in line, Damhán began to get impatient. “Can this cashier go any faster?” he complained.
Aileen rolled her eyes. “We’ve only been here for fifteen minutes.”
“That’s a long time,” Damhán retorted. “If I had been in the fourth dimension, we would have been out of here in two minutes.”
“Because you would have pushed past all the other shoppers, forgotten to pay, and walked out leaving everyone confused,” Breandan said drily.
“I would not have!” Damhán exclaimed hotly.
“You would have,” Aileen said.
“No I wouldn’t!”
“Guys!” I said, shaking Damhán’s shoulder forcefully. “Knock it off.”
The siblings lapsed into silence and Breandan began helping me put items from our cart onto the belt.
Eventually our cart was re-packed with bags full of groceries…and none too soon. Mom came into the store looking for us and before long we were on our way home.
“Well THAT was exciting,” Damhán remarked after throwing himself down on our couch.
“What was exciting?” Aichear asked from behind a book.
“All that shopping.”
I sighed. “No it wasn’t, he’s trying to be sarcastic.”
Aichear put down his book and raised an eyebrow at his younger brother. “Oh?”
“How can you tell what I’m trying to be?” the accused asked me grumpily.
“Well, you’re not very good at hiding sarcasm in your voice,” I answered simply.
“Don’t listen to Damhán Aichear,” Aileen said, coming up to him and settling into his lap to snuggle. “We had a wonderful time.”
“They even had country music playing in their van on the way to and back from the store!” Breandan exclaimed with a grin in my direction. “Who would have thought?”
“That was on purpose. I know you like Brad Paisley so I rooted around in our music collection until I found a CD of his songs to play,” I explained.
“I liked it. That was very thoughtful of you.”
“I’m glad. I want to make your stay here as wonderful as possible so that you all want to come again.” I glanced around the circle of siblings. “You guys are a lot of fun to hang out with!”
“We’re very happy that you think so,” Aichear said with a smile.
“And we’re enjoying our time here very much,” Bran added.
“Despite some of the fights.” Breandan winked at me with a nod toward the younger three Mornelly’s.
“That just spices everything up,” Damhán said slyly. “Without the fights the days would be long and boring.”
“I could live with that.” Ciarán appeared from behind a corner. “Living an exciting life isn’t always good you know.”
A frown began to grow between Damhán’s eyebrows. “Yeah? Well I happen to know that…”
“What do you all say to having some dinner?” I asked, nipping the brewing fight in its bud.
A relieved look crossed the older Mornelly boys’ faces and they all nodded in unison.
“Tomorrow I’ll give you all something we can do together to make life interesting WITHOUT having to fight,” I added.
During the last meal, I realized I hadn’t thought of anything yet. It was going to be a long night.