Jake was bored.
Bored, bored, bored, bored, bored, bored, bored.
He had defeated all the bosses on all of his games; twice. He had gotten halfway through one of his summer reading books before tossing it off the bed and losing it in the heaping piles of junk on the floor of the bedroom he had to share with his little brother, Mack. And now his mother was insisting they either find a way to entertain themselves without arguing with one another, or clean their room.
Jake was bored…
At first, the idea of spending the summer at an old family cottage in the country with his parents, little brother, and their brand new puppy, Ding-Dong, had sounded like a great idea. At twelve he was still young enough to enjoy his parent’s company and lame attempts at humor, but old enough that he could take care of himself and his ten year old brother, if needed, without them hanging around barking instructions like well meaning but annoying drill sergeants.
And since Mack was pretty good at keeping himself out of trouble, Jake figured he’d be left with plenty of time to do whatever he wanted. Yup, it had sounded like a great idea at the time. That is until they had unpacked and he had asked his mom for the wi-fi password.
“What do you mean: No Internet?” Jake had fumed. “I’m not sure those words can even be used together in the same sentence on summer break!”
“We’re in the country Jake.” His father had reminded him, “No satellite, no cable, and no internet. And guess what? You’ll survive without it!” His dad had wrapped his arm around Jake’s shoulder and given him a tight squeeze, “More time for cards, puzzles and family board games!”
“Yay for board games!” Mack had chimed in, with a smile and a nod to his father.
“C’mon Jakie,” his mother had said and planted a kiss on his cheek, which he promptly wiped off so as not to look like he was giving in on the matter.
“It won’t be that bad. Besides,” she’d continued, “I remembered to pack plenty of video games that don’t use internet so you both can still stare at the screen, for like, 20 hours every day just like last summer.”
Then she had crossed her eyes and stuck her tongue out at him to emphasize her point. A gesture which always made him smile whether he wanted to or not. But right now remembering their first day at the cottage only made Jake more irritable and restless to get back to the city.
He reached down to pick up Ding-Dong, the stray puppy they had found at the city pound who was busy gnawing on a dog toy for a change instead of Jake’s shoe, and set her on the bed rubbing her belly while she tried to nip at his hand. Ding-Dong was a mix of who knows what and was basically so ugly she was cute. Jake was pretty sure Ding-Dong was part Yorkie, part Chihuahua, and part beaver? Or maybe rabbit?
Whatever she was, she liked to tear things up and being out in the country, while good for their apartment back home, did nothing to change that fact here at the cottage. Jake was beyond annoyed at the loss of his socks, underwear and the giant hole in his favorite blanket. That last one about did him in, but luckily his ever resourceful mother had mended it enough to get by and had told him that at least now the old blanket had character and a great back story to tell the other linens on laundry day.
Where she came up with crazy ideas like that Jake couldn’t guess, but he did know they helped diffuse his anger at those times. Unfortunately, lately he felt like he was getting angry all the time and he hated that the slightest thing seemed to set him off. Worse still, he hated the weird way his body had started reacting when his temper got the best of him; scared him actually, if he was honest with himself.
Waves of heat would cascade from his head down through his stomach. His heart would race and thud so loudly it would drown out any other sounds, and he felt his hands get so hot that he would ball them into fists thinking it would keep them from shooting fire from his fingertips, which as crazy as it sounded, is the only way he could think of to describe it.
Not that he would ever tell anyone, least of all his parents, any of that. His parents would never understand it because they weren’t like that. They were always loving and kind, even when he and his brother were in trouble and had to face the consequences of their actions.
Sure, his parents raised their voices and sent them to their rooms and all that, but this red hot rage that now came over Jake when he got angry? No. They’d never understand that and he was sure they’d send him off to some crazy doctor guy to run tests to figure out why a kid who had such a great life was feeling the way he was. Or, maybe, he thought, they’d just send him away and have him locked up so he wouldn’t hurt anyone…maybe that was the only thing that could be done for him…
Ding-Dong had grown tired of trying to eat Jake’s fingers and had fallen asleep on her back instead. Jake looked at her sleeping and thought, why can’t you just be good all the time instead of tearing everything up? Jake sighed and sat on the edge of his bed. “Puppy problems,” he muttered quietly to himself and went downstairs to grab a snack and see what Mack was up to.
Mack had spent the morning helping their dad work on an old car they had found in the shed behind the cottage. Although there really wasn’t much they could do with it since there weren’t many tools in the shed and their father, while a successful small business owner, was in no way a mechanic.
Jake found the two of them sitting under a shade tree near the shed and tossed his brother the extra apple he had grabbed from the kitchen on his way out the back door.
“What are you two doing?” Jake asked his dad. “Give up already on that hunk of junk in there?”
“For now,” said his dad closing his eyes and putting his hands behind his head and leaning back against the tree. “Honestly, I think that thing has been in there since I was as old as you two.”