by Deirdre Maultsaid

His instructions are excited and penetrating enough to be overheard by everyone around us because he is trying to put me on my best behaviour in front of his mother. Three more bus stops and I’ll be at her house for the first time. He turns in his seat and straightens his back in order to tower over me more. “Let me tell her about the baby, okay? And whatever you do, don’t mention ferrets!”

I ask, “Why on earth would I mention ferrets?”

He says, “Just don’t. My mother lost a member of her family to ferrets so we have a long, bad history with them. We never talk about it. They should be exterminated. That is one species that should be extinct. I mean it. Blow them all up.” And then, he points his finger like a gun.

A member of the family? Exterminated? “Don’t they make good pets?” I ask.

He insists, “That’s the one thing I won’t stand for.”

I point out, “We don’t live with your mother.”

He concedes, “Well, if we tie it up in our basement. Just don’t ever, ever say anything!”

I’ll use whatever I have against his mother. What do I have? My youth, some words, and a lack of reverence. Rats, snakes, spiders. This is what I think. I’ll see what she says first, how wide she opens her door, where I am allowed to sit down. If she challenges me or fails me, then from my secret arsenal–ferret! Will it stun her enough? Otherwise I will have to use guilt or the expected grandchild. Or worse, what I have in such short supply—understanding.

Deirdre is a Canadian writer. She writes postcard fiction, essays and is revising her novel “The Cold Ashes of Her Shelter”. She has had work published in Canada, at Other Voices and Zygote amongst others, and on line at ConspireThe Barcelona ReviewThe Danforth Review  and others.