Joey watched Spongebob all afternoon while Mom slept. He said he didn't have homework and probably did but he loves Patrick the starfish and anyway Mom wouldn't care. She didn't believe in homework. She always said she was going to homeschool us again and then we wouldn't have homework because it would all be homework. I got what she meant but in the meantime I had normal school and tons of normal homework. When I didn't pass the state test, they made us go to regular school. Joey went into first grade so it didn't really matter to him. But a lot of kids knew I'd been in fourth grade before. Of course they made fun of me. I would have made fun of me if I weren't me.
By six o'clock when Mom still hadn't come out, I put some water on the stove. I didn't know if I would make mac and cheese or hotdogs. Hotdogs would be faster. Sometimes I could roll them up in a piece of bread and tell Joey if he dipped them in mustard they almost tasted like corn dogs but we didn't even have bread. I checked the fridge; no mustard, either. I poured macaroni into the boiling water and it splashed and burned my hand.
"I'm telling Mom you swore," said Joey. He left the TV blaring but came into the kitchen to see what was up. "I'm sick of mac-and-cheese."
"I won't eat it!"
"Yes, you will."
"If you make me eat it, I'll throw up."
That wasn't just a pretend threat. Joey had a touchy stomach. One time, the church ladies brought over meatloaf and he didn't want to eat it but Mom made him and he barfed all over the kitchen table. I almost threw up cleaning it up.
"How about if I put cut-up hotdogs in the mac?"
The macaroni was swirling around in the water like curly worms.
"If I put ketchup on it, it'll taste like spaghetti only shorter," I said.
Joey thought about this for a while. I got a couple of cereal bowls from the sink, rinsed them out. All the glasses had dried up gunk in them. Mom's coffee mugs weren't too bad. Joey could have the one with the orange cat face on it because he liked that stupid cat. The milk smelled funny. We could split a Coke. In the drawer, there was just one clean fork and one spoon. I see-sawed them up and down for Joey to choose.
"Spoon," he said.
(Part 2: Start of short story for Iowa online course, it's open, free and just started https://novoed.com/how-writers-write-fiction-2016/ Image by @194AngellStreet)