Mom Over Miami - By Annie Jones Page 0,1

a scathing, witty comeback. “Uh-huh,” he said.

Hannah rolled her eyes and tried not to laugh.

Sam wrinkled his nose. His lips twitched.

“Hey, uh…” Hannah hated to single Sam out by only calling for him to knock it off without at least saying something to the other boy. Kyle, Hannah thought the kid’s name was…or Cody. Colby? She glanced down at the enormous can of “American cheese food product” in her hands and a faint light flickered in the very back shelf of her memory. Cheddar? Gorgonzola?

Okay, neither of those were kids’ names…probably. But since most of the adult conversations she’d had in the past week had taken place primarily in her head, she wasn’t going to feel guilty about a few cheesy thoughts. She sighed, shoved the can under the blade of the electric can opener and opted for distraction over inconsequential discipline.

“Hey, Sam?” She kept her tone light. “Will you come help me a minute, please?”

He shot the other boy—whose name might be…Monterey Jack?—one last warning glance, then hurried around the half wall that divided the two rooms.

The can opener whirred under her hand for a good thirty seconds before clunking to a jarring stop.

Sam’s rival melded into the knot of arms and legs and striped blue-and-white shirts with numbers on the back.

Hannah wrestled the can away from the opener.

“What can I do?” Sam leaned both elbows on the gleaming black granite countertop, though he had to stand on tiptoe to do it.

She stared at the big dent that had stopped the whirring blade cold. “Got any ideas for getting cheese out of a half-opened can?”

“If you melted it first, you could just pour it out.”

“Great idea,” she said, and was rewarded by a light in Sam’s eyes that wasn’t there as often as it should be. “Except…” She tapped one finger against the metal side.


“It won’t microwave.”

“And you don’t know how to cook the regular way.”

“Do so.” Hey, eight-year-olds didn’t own the patent on the brilliant retort.

“Yeah, but in the time it would take you to figure out how to melt that stuff inside the can…” He leaned back and looked at the dozen boys decked out in brand-spanking-new soccer regalia.

“The dog likes me best,” one called.

Another elbowed his way to the front of the heap, vying for the attention of the family dog, a rescued racing greyhound with the affectionate and all-too-apt nickname Squirrelly Girl. “Only because you put your snack on the floor and she ate it.”

“I’m going to put my snack on my head this time.”

“I’m starving. I’m going to put my snack right in my stomach!”

“I see what you mean. If we don’t feed them soon, it may turn out like…” Hannah started to mention the grizzly story of that soccer team in the mountains turning to cannibalism, but caught herself in time. A reference to the novel Lord of the Flies also sprang to mind, followed by a flashback of her first PTA meeting. She shut her eyes and reminded herself to think like an eight-year-old boy now and use his frame of reference. “It might turn out like one of those reality TV survival shows.”

“I know who I’d vote off first,” Sam muttered.

“Let’s hope it doesn’t get to that.” She held the can up and peered through the jagged slit already cut around the rim. “If only we could pry that back just enough to—”

“I got it!” Sam yanked open the junk drawer. He rummaged a moment and pulled out a huge screwdriver. Sam waved it around like he’d freed the sword Excalibur. “Old trusty!”

“Old trusty.” Hannah smiled weakly at the offer. She had used that screwdriver to fish a pot holder out from behind the refrigerator. Before that, she’d used it to stab holes into the plastic covering of a microwavable lasagna. Before that, she’d even used the heavy wooden end of it to pound nails for hanging a picture.

“You got a better idea?”

“Fresh out.” She sighed and took the tool from his hand. A lock of dark auburn hair fell over her eyes, which she ignored. She stuck out her tongue and pried the lid from the can with a screwdriver. At least none of the other mothers—the polished, poised, professional women who had caught her on a good day and immediately accepted her into their ranks—could see her now.

“There!” At last she scooped up an enormous mound of gelatinous cheeselike substance out of the can. It made a strangely satisfying splat landing in the big spouted mixing bowl she’d set