Sammy’s creative writing unit was going to be the death of John. Telling stories was a good skill, one that he’d wanted to instill in both his boys, but Dean fell silent more readily than he spun lies, and Sammy only wanted to tell stories that were unrelated to anything important.
And Sammy insisted on reading each of his creations out loud, for applause, and, if possible, candy. He would make sure John was sitting in the most comfortable chair and that Dean wasn’t busy with chores, and then he’d launch into his latest masterpiece, grubby looseleaf clutched in one hand, leaving the other free for dramatic gestures.
The latest story was about an old man expecting a visit from his grandson - written by Sammy, who’d never even met any of his own grandparents, and John couldn’t believe that the teacher wanted him to talk to Sammy about letting his imagination run free. Sammy read as he always did, in a voice that wavered between the high of excitement and the low of the seriousness of his subject matter.
“And Roger Smith felt a great ankshitty, even though he knew it was dumb to worry about the color of the Hot Wheels he’d gotten for Brendan . . .”
Dean looked up too, so John knew he wasn’t just hearing things. “What was that, Sammy?”
“What?” Sammy looked up with solemn eyes, not trying to get away with anything.
“What did Roger feel? A great what?”
“Ankshitty,” Sammy said earnestly. “It means, like, big worry.”
John looked at Dean for help and Dean thought for a moment before smiling like he’d solved the Sunday crossword. Anxiety, he mouthed, and John got it.
“Like, anxious?” John asked, just to make absolutely certain.
“Yeah!” Sammy beamed, delighted that he’d been able to teach them a vocabulary word.
“Alright, keep going, sport. Can’t have the Hot Wheels be the wrong color, can we?”
“No, sir!” Sammy opened his eyes wide at Dean, as if to say silently Dad got it!, and Dean just grinned and sat back and said, “Take it from the top, Sammy.”