Marie Tiller heard the crunch of gravel announce the arrival of a car on the long lane to the Tiller home.

Marie poked her head into the living room.  “Hey, guys, they’re coming.  Everyone be on their best behavior”.

Her husband Jeff turned off the TV and pulled himself out of the recliner.  Seven year old Mark jump up excitedly and ran to the kitchen.  He had been chattering all week about the chance to meet his brother’s new girlfriend.  Seventeen year old Sarah grinned at her brother’s exuberance and follow him into the kitchen, exhibiting a much more restrained  manner.

The car doors slammed shut, and a moment later, the screen door creaked.  Andrew and Beth entered the house, and the gaze of four sets eyes were upon them.

“Hey everybody.  This is Beth.  Beth, this is Mom, Dad, Sarah, and Mark.”

Beth, a tall, attractive brunette, smiled nervously.

“Supper’s ready,” announced Marie.  “Everyone, find your seats.”

Jeff settled into a seat at the far end of the table, leaving the head of the table for Marie.  Andrew and Beth sat next to each other on one side of the table, and Mark quickly jumped into the chair on the other side of Beth, leaving Sarah as the lone occupant on the other side of the table.  Andrew stifled a laugh – it definitely appeared as if his little brother had a crush on Beth.

Marie set the spaghetti and meatballs on the table.

Mark immediately scooped up two meatballs and a large helping of spaghetti in an effort to help Beth.  Most of the food landed on her plate, but one of the meatballs bounced free and splattered onto Beth’s blouse before finding a final resting place on the floor.

“Oh, Mark, look what you’ve done!” exclaimed Marie.

“But, but, I was just trying to help,” explained Mark, on the verge of tears.

“It’s OK, Mark,” said Beth, in a soothing tone.  “I’m sure the stain will come out.”

“Well, I want to get to work on the stain immediately to make sure that it does.  Sarah, take Beth upstairs and find her a different blouse to wear.”

Sarah and Beth went upstairs.  When they returned in a few minutes, Beth was wearing a clean white blouse and a big smile.  Marie was happy to see that Andrew’s girlfriend wasn’t phased by the accident.

“Hey, Mom, I’ll go work on the stain so that you can spend some time with Beth.”

The crisis had been averted and everyone sat down to enjoy the spaghetti and meatballs.  The dish was a longtime family favorite, and it seemed that Beth also enjoy the pasta and garlic bread.  Mark was on his best behavior during the rest of the meals.  He was a good kid, but sometimes he just allowed himself to get a bit too excited.

When they finished supper, Beth and Sarah volunteered to do dishes, and Marie happily agreed.  Marie could hear the two girls chattering as they washed and dried the dishes.  In the living room, Andrew regaled them with crazy tales from his first town months at college.  Marie couldn’t imagine living in the midst of thirty thousand young adults.  She suspected that Andrew’s tales were only scratching the surface of the college shenanigans.

When the dishes were done, everyone went back to the kitchen table and Jeff got down the Trivial Pursuit game.  Not surprisingly, Mark wanted to be on the same team as Andrew and Beth.  Marie, Jeff, and Sarah formed the other team.  The game was close throughout, with Andrew, Beth, and Mark emerging victorious.  Marie noted that Beth’s strengths – Entertainment and and Geography – were perfectly suited to Andrew’s weaknesses in those areas.  Marie looked forward to many more games of Trivial Pursuit with Andrew and Beth in the future.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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