by M D Flyn
“No! I don’t want a hot dog!”
“Knock, knock! Caaari!” Beth pounded on the worn doghouse roof.
“NO! Beth! You can’t come in!” she braced her dirty feet against the opening so Beth couldn’t see her cookies.
Beth’s feet rustled in the leaves as she ran off to play with someone else.
She arranged the cookies on the plate. There were still three. If Mommy caught her with the pretty blue plate she’d be in trouble.
The breeze wafted hot dog from the grill. “Food!” Dad held out a platter to the cousins who came running.
She picked up one cookie and nibbled on it. She wanted a hot dog. But not more than cookies. Still, those cousins might eat all the hot dogs.
Beth ran back. She bent down to peer in, “Cari, I got a hot dog!”
“I don’t want a hot dog! Get out, Beth!” she puffed herself up like a bear.
Hanna ran by squealing and hit Beth with a water shooter. Beth chased her off towards the wading pool.
Cari pushed a tangle of hair out of her eyes as she checked her cookies. There were still two. If she left to get a hot dog Beth might find them and take them. If she ate them, they’d be all gone. Her diaper didn’t have hiding room. But those hot dogs smelled good.
Maybe if she snuck back she could get more cookies from that nice lady. But if mommy saw her with a handful of cookies, she’d take them away.
Across the yard Beth froze, wincing and crossing her legs. “Gotta potty!” she stumbled up the stone steps and in to the house.
Cari scrambled, stuffing a cookie in her face and grabbing the last one. She leapt out, her bug-bitten legs pumping as she dashed for the house. She crashed through the door, the screen banging behind her. Her bare feet slapped on the wide hardwood planks.
“I want a cookie,” the cookie in there made it hard to talk, so she pointed her grimy finger. Watermelon juice was sticky. So was dirt.
“I don’t know, I didn’t hear the magic word,” the lady sitting next to the cookies creaked down to her.
“Please! Those!” she pointed again, hoping mommy didn’t come in from the kitchen. The melty cookie in her grip tried to slip away. “Yes! Those!” she bounced as the lady took a napkin and put two cookies on it. The lady handed it to her, and she snatched it.
The smell of the hot dogs hit her as the door slammed. “Awwwwww,” she planted her feet and wobbled.
The doghouse stood empty. Beth nowhere to be seen.
“What’s the matter, honey?” Dad turned to her.
She looked at the tidy cookies in the napkin. At her other hand smeared with melted chocolate. She tossed the naked cookie to the ground and held out her gooey hand. “I need a hot dog.”
“I don’t think that cookie goes there.”
“Quick, before Beth comes!”
“You know where that cookie goes.”
“Grrrrr,” she tried to pick up the slimy cookie. She picked the dirty thing up and tossed it in the giant trash can.
“Now Daddy now!” she hopped as she clutched her napkin cookies.
“Here you go,” he handed her the dog and bun just as the screen door banged behind Beth.
“AAAAH!” she took off, Beth chasing her just because she ran away. She made it to the doghouse first and parked her butt in the doorway so Beth couldn’t get her food.
“No Beth! Go play with somebody else!” Beth giggled as she chased after Hanna.
Cari settled her snacks and positioned herself so she had a view of the kids. She took a bite of hot dog, then stuck her head out. “Somebody get me a cuppa of milk!”