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Anna plopped a ladle of day-old stew in the bowl and stomped across the room. She sat down heavily and stared back toward the fire.

“It’s not very hot,” she said, lips tight, eyes hard. “But if you want hot food, you need to get yourself to the dinner table when the rest of the family eats.”

Jack didn’t answer but just watched the woman speak. His body slouched in submission, and his eyes searched hers for a hint of forgiveness.

“Where were you last night, anyway?” She squinted harder and pierced his soul with her gaze.

Jack squirmed and looked away. He took a timid bite of the stew. He was hungry, and he didn’t want to make Anna even angrier than she already was, but it felt like a trap somehow.

“Well, at least you still have your appetite,” Anna said. “From the looks of you, I wasn’t sure you could even hold your head up long enough to take a bite.

Jack glanced at her again, raised his eyebrows.

“I was worried sick about you,” she said, her hardness melting into pleading eyes. “Why can’t you just stay home for once?”

Heavy footsteps sounded from the back of the cabin, and Harold shuffled out of the bedroom. He rubbed his eyes, looked from Jack to Anna.

“I don’t reckon he’s going to answer you,” Harold said to his wife.

Anna pursed her lips and shook her head. She stood and walked toward the dry sink.

“I don’t reckon you’ll get any hot vittles, either, Harold Watson,” she shot back.

Harold smiled and scratched Jack behind the ear. The dog groaned and wagged his tail.

“Don’t worry, boy,” Harold says. “I think she likes us.”

A broad smile broke across Anna’s face as she placed two more bowls on the table. She sat down.

“Get to it, then, man. Fill our bowls so we can eat a proper meal together.”

Harold smiled, and so did Jack.

Published inFictionFlash Fiction

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