There was so much light in the house, physically and emotionally. Judith and Luca Solano sipped milk in their kitchen. The family dog, Kirby was finally quietly sleeping in his crate. Lisa played barbies in her room as Mary-Louise had her face glued to her phone. The evening was also peaceful. Their lives were usually hectic, the bills, school, work. This night though, it was special. It was mundane, just how they wished it was all the time. Good things never last forever though.
“Why can’t life always be this tedious?” Judith asked as she sipped her milk.
“Most people aren’t fond of this dullness.” Luca responded.
“Between our jobs and the girls, I wish it was always like this. I love just sitting here with you. Sipping milk and eating crackers.” They both laughed.
“What about that new wine I bought you? Want to pop that open?” Luca asked.
“N-no. Not really feeling alcohol tonight.”
“Well, okay. Let’s just sit here and drink some nice milk.”
“Yes, also stop talking, I need quiet.” Luca laughed as she said this.
“Okay, honey. Okay.”
“Mommy!” Lisa yelled as she ran down the stairs.
“And it ends.” Luca said.
“What is it, Lisa?” Judith asked irritably.
“Mary-Lou cut the hair of my favorite barbie, Ellie!” Lisa yelled.
“Well, take Ellie to the barbie hair shop and make her a wig.”
“Good idea!” Lisa ran back upstairs.
“How do you think she’s gonna react when she realizes she doesn’t know how to make a wig?” Luca asked.
“It’s probably best for us just to enjoy the last 5 minutes we have of complete and utter calmness, god knows we never freaking get enough of it.” They sat and drank their milk.
“Are you sure you don’t want that wine? You seem a bit agitated. Maybe it will help?” Luca said.
“Luca! I don’t want it!” Judith yelled.
“Okay, okay. Sorry.”
“Thank you. Now shut up. Let’s enjoy our couple's last couple seconds of peace.” Luca was thinking to himself, ‘she seems snarkier than usual?’ it was true though. She usually had a certain level of snarkiness, she just seemed different.
“Mom!” Mary-Louise yelled as she ran down the stairs.
“I guess our 5 minutes is up.”
“What is it, Mary-Lou?” Judith asked.
“My phone says it has no reception.” Mary-Louise snarked.
“Weird, mine says that too.” Luca said. All the sudden, the lights began to flicker.
“Woah.” Judith said. The lights stopped flickering and just turned completely off.
“So much for our mundane evening.” Luca said.
“Mommy, it’s so dark!” Lisa yelled as she ran down the stairs into Judith's embrace.
“Don’t worry, Lisa. We probably just blew a fuse.”
“Actually, the whole neighborhood seems to be out, darling.” Luca said.
“How am I supposed to text my friends!?” Mary-Louise yelled.
“I can’t fix Ellie’s hair in the dark!”
“I’m hungry!” Luca complained.
“Everyone stop!” Judith yelled.
“I guess your mother is right, this evening is supposed to be calm, so that’s exactly how it will be!” Luca reached out and took Mary-Louise’s phone and Lisa’s barbie.
“Give her back!”
“No kids! We are going to have some family fun tonight.” Luca exclaimed.
“Luca, where are you going with this?” Judith asked curiously.
“To the very top, Judith!”
“How are we supposed to have fun? You took our stuff. Also, we are in the dark! How are we supposed to do anything without tripping over our own feet?” Mary-Louise asked.
“Glad you asked, or in this case, ordered.”
“Get to the point, Luca.” Judith said.
“Yes, okay! We are going to have the first ever Solano Family Campout Night!” Luca said.
“Solano Family Campout Night? We aren’t at a camping ground, Dad.”
“Nope, we are going to campout in the backyard!”
“Really, hun?” Judith asked.
“Yes! All of us, and Kirby. No electronics, only us and a tent, some flashlights too!”
“Can I bring my barbies?” Lisa asked.
“Nope!” Luca responded, “Tonight we are off the grid! No electronics, no toys, nothing! Just us and the dog.”
“We are humans in the 21st century! How are we supposed to survive!” Mary-Louise exclaimed.
“Hey, me and your mom did it when we were kids. We didn’t have fancy electronics and games. My mom used to throw me outside with nothing but a stick and I’d be busy for 5 hours.”
“And look how you turned out.” Mary-Louise snarked.
“Your father has a point. My parents worked all day and left me to fend for myself. There was no uber, postmates, any of it! We had our skills and our imaginations, also a cookbook.”
“Why do we care about your childhoods? They aren’t ours! Lisa and I depend on these things! Our imaginations are basically funny cat videos.”
“And barbies!” Lisa said.
“Fine! I guess we can all just sit here… in the dark.” Luca said.
“Actually, the camping idea sounds pretty fun! I’ll get the flashlights!” Lisa quickly ran off in fear.
“Okay! Lisa’s in! Mary-Lou?”
“I’d rather die than sleep outside.”
“Well, I guess you won’t get that new phone you’ve been begging me for.”
“But tonight I can make an exception! I’m in!!” Mary-Louise said.
“Mary-Lou’s in! Judith?” Luca put the puppy dog eyes in action.
“I really don’t want to.” Judith said.
“Please!!” Luca begged.
“Ugh fine, you owe me. I’ll get Kirby.”
“Yes!” Luca yelled as Judith rolled her eyes and walked off.
“Dad, have you noticed mom’s been, kind of off?” Mary-Louise whispered.
“She’s been having mood swings, she’s happy one minute and upset the next. Also her snarkiness level is through the roof. I should make a chart.”
“Honestly, I have also noticed. I bought her the best and her favorite wine last week and she hasn’t drank any of it, and you know how much she adores fancy wines.”
“Do you think she’s keeping something from us?” Mary-Louise asked.
“Mary-Lou, don’t be silly. She’s probably just stressed. That’s what it usually always is. Which is why I’m so confused why she won’t drink alcohol.”
“I hope you're right, also some people just aren’t always in an alcoholic mood like you, Dad.” They laughed together.
“Whatever, help me find the sleeping bags.” Luca said.
About an hour has passed. The world seemed very dark. Street lights were out, as was every other light or electrical object in the town, besides cars of course. It was like night time in the stone ages.
Luca began to set up the tent, the girls and Kirby played around, though Lisa and Mary-Louise kept constantly snarking at one another. Judith sat in her foldable chair and sipped her milk.
“Isn’t this pleasant!” Luca exclaimed.
“As long as I have a healthy beverage in my hand and no other priorities, yes.”
“Mary-Louise! Lisa!” Luca yelled.
“Yeah, Dad?” Mary-Lou asked.
“I have a big mission for you.”
“Ooh! A mission!” Lisa exclaimed.
“Collect little sticks and twigs in the yard, we are going to have a fire! It will provide us light, and s’mores!”
“Really. Sticks? That’s the big mission?” Mary-Louise said.
“Yes. Do it and you can have… three s’mores!”
“I’m so in!” Lisa began running and searching for sticks.
“Fine, I’m only doing this stupid thing for the phone.” Mary-Louise followed after Lisa and began picking up sticks.
“Wonderful! Judith, care to contribute?” Luca asked.
“I am contributing, I’m gracing you all with my presence.”
“While you're sitting there drinking milk, I could use some help with getting this damn tent up. It’s like rocket science.”
“No sure I’m up for that…” Judith responded nervously.
“Well could you at least read me the instructions?” Luca asked.
“Sure, sound simple enough!”
“Thank you, Judith. Don’t worry, things can only go up from here!”
After one hour of putting their tent up, they eventually finished. Lisa and Mary-Louise also finished getting the sticks, though Kirby managed to snatch some of the bigger ones. The evening was all around going smoothly.
“Man, now I feel much better.” Judith said as she sat at a distance from the fire.
“Yeah, the crickets are chirping, the girls are playing. It’s as if we are truly camping. No technology, just us and a fire, speaking of, why don’t you move closer? It’s nice and toasty.”
“Nope, I’m good back here. I don’t want to inhale smoke.”
“Oh another note, yes I love this peace.” Judith said.
“Hey, Dad?” Lisa asked.
“Why can’t we camp more often? It’s actually pretty fun.”
“Well we just don’t usually have the time.”
“We have all the time in the world!” Lisa exclaimed.
“I hate to admit it but Lisa has a point. I like this.” Mary-Louise said.
“We are always so busy. We have work, bills, school. No time for camping.” Judith responded.
“Can’t we make time? I’m sick of just sitting in my room on my phone. It’s quite boring, I want to be outside more. Be a real kid!” Mary-Louise exclaimed.
“Mary-Louise you sound ungrateful. Your father and I could take that phone away from you!”
“No, I wasn’t saying that, I just want to be around you all more.”
“Yes, Mary-Louise. We will begin to make time for family. Why don’t we dedicate all Saturday evenings to Solano Family Campout Night? We could also take you and Lisa camping for both of your birthdays!” Luca said excitedly.
“We could even camp in the mountains in New Hampshire! Perhaps visit the Polar Caves?” Mary-Louise added.
“Woah, woah, woah.” Judith interrupted.
“Something wrong, Mommy?” Lisa asked.
“So many ideas, so little money and time.”
“None of this stuff requires money, Mom.” Mary-Louise said.
“Yes it does, we’ll need snacks, tents, a cooler and so much more. We barely have enough to get groceries.”
“Then why’d you guys offer to get me a new phone?” Mary-Louise asked.
“He did, not me! He offered that to you because he needed you to show him a little attention! And he practically scared Lisa into submission!” They all went quiet after what Judith said.
“Wow, Judith.” Luca said.
“That’s it! This campout is off. This bickering and snarking back and forth is unbearable.” Luca exclaimed.
“Lisa and I didn't-”.
“Yes, Judith. I did want to spend time with Mary-Louise and Lisa. I guess I bribed Mary-Lou, and scared Lisa into the campout. In the end, they both learned something out of this. They learned that life isn’t just toys and electronics. There is a whole world out there and they are finally realizing it. I’m done though. Judith have your tedious evening without me. I’ll put Lisa to bed.”
“Wow, Mom. Really puts things into perspective.”
“No, I only said all of this for your own goods! Life isn’t just you getting everything handed to you! You work for it!”
“I know, Mom. I understand this!”
“You clearly don’t! You sounded spoiled!”
“I never said I was ungrateful. You practically thought up your own version!”
“I did not, Mary-Louise!”
“You have been so different lately! Mood swings on and off. I don’t understand!”
“Judith, is there something you're not telling us?” Luca asked.
“No, Mom. There clearly is.” Mary-Louise said.
“Fine! I’m pregnant!” Judith yelled. They all went silent in shock.
“Judith? You are?” Luca asked.
“Yay! A sibling! I’m gonna go tell Ellie!” Lisa ran inside with Kirby.
“Mom, why didn’t you want to confess this to us? It isn’t a bad thing.”
“Yes it is, I’m scared.”
“Why?” Luca asked.
“One year ago, I got pregnant again. I didn’t tell you then.”
“What? Why!?” Luca yelled.
“No! I was about to! I had a whole evening planned. Milk, baby bottles, amazon shopping.” Judith said.
“Then, what happened?” Mary-Louise asked.
“I never told anyone this.”
“Please, we are family, Judith.”
“Okay. I was at work one day when I was going up the stairs for an interview with a client. A man was also walking up the stairs. He was my boss. I wasn’t supposed to talk to this client and he caught me trying to do that. So, he got revenge. He pushed me down the stairs as vengeance for disobeying him.”
“What?!” Luca and Mary-Louise exclaimed.
“One of my colleagues found me and called an ambulance. I told them that I didn’t want them to call anyone because I wasn’t seriously injured. But, I lost the baby.” At this point everyone was tearing up.
“And you're still working for this scumbag! Judith I want you to quit, and go to the police!” Luca yelled.
“Your right. I will.”
“This still doesn’t explain why you were afraid to tell us, Mom.” Mary-Louise said.
“I didn’t tell you because I didn’t know how long this kid is going to last! I’m afraid the same thing will happen.”
“Oh, it won’t. We are going to the police. Now.” Luca said aggravatedly.
“Yes, we shall. Mary-Lou, watch your sister in the meantime.”
“No! I’m coming!” Mary-Louise exclaimed.
“No. Watch your sister.”
“Ugh, fine. When you guys return… can we resume the Solano Family Campout Night?” Mary-Louise asked.
“Well, maybe.” Luca said.
“Don’t be silly, of course.”
After going to the police and reporting Judith’s boss for such a horrific thing, they returned home. The fire was still going. Everyone’s anger levels were down a notch, but it was still in the air. The only thing that mattered was that the power was out, there was a baby on the way, and Solano Family Campout Night was back afloat.
“So, does anyone have any baby name ideas?” Luca asked.
“Ooh! Gretchen!” Lisa exclaimed.
“God no, Lisa.” Judith laughed as did everyone else.
“How about… Anita?” Mary-Louise said.
“I like it for a girl.” Luca said.
“As do I, boy names?” Judith asked.
“How about… Necro?” Mary-Louise said.
“Necro sounds like a video game. Next!”
“Farrin!” Lisa exclaimed.
“Wow, I like it.” Judith said.
“As do I.”
“Wow, that was so easy.” Mary-Louise said.
“Yeah, it was. Maybe we will change our minds in the future.” Judith said.
“Should we go to bed? It’s been a crazy evening.” Luca said.
“Yes, let’s get in the tent.”
“Yes! Ghost stories?” Lisa asked.
“I suppose we could do ghost stories.”
“I know a good one that I read on Pinterest.” They all peacefully made their way to the tent for their slumber.
About 7 months have passed. Judith was just about to arrive to her due date. Mary-Louise has been by her side more now than ever before. Luca has also been by her side, even through all of her snarky remarks and anger.
“Luca!” Judith yelled.
“I want a boiled egg, no two!”
“Yes, love. Where is Mary-Lou?” Luca asked.
“She took the car to the market to fetch me some ice cream.”
“Mom! I’m home!” Mary-Louise said as she entered.
“Mom I’m home! Here is your tub of ice-”.
“Agh!” Judith yelled.
“Mom, are you okay?!” Mary-Louise exclaimed.
“Agh!” Judith yelled again.
“I think she is having the baby now!” Lisa said as she ran into the room.
“Lisa don’t be silly. She’s in labor!”
“Okay everyone get in the car! Mary-Lou you're the best driver out of all of us so you’ll drive!”
“Yes, okay!” Mary-Louise took Judith's arm, as Luca took the other. The swiftly led her to the car where she then let out a blood curdling scream.
“Crap, I forgot the keys!” Mary-Louise said.
“Run and get them!” Luca yelled.
“Okay!” Mary-Louise ran off to fetch the keys. Judith let out another scream.
“Hey, is she okay?!” One of the neighbor’s said as they walked by.
“Yes! She’s fine! She’s in labor!”
“Oh my god! Okay, good luck!” The neighbor ran away.
“Got the keys!” Mary-Louise said as she ran into the car.
“Step on it, Mary-Lou!!!” Judith yelled.
“Okay, Mom!!” Mary-Louise stepped on the gas and drove like a race car driver.
They eventually made it to the hospital. Judith had a steady birth, though there was a lot of screaming and cursing involved.
“Here is your baby boy.” The nurse said as she handed him to Judith.
“A boy?” Lisa said.
“We know nothing about boys!” Mary-Louise exclaimed.
“Luckily, I do.” Luca said.
“What should we name him?” Mary-Louise asked.
“I think I have one…” Judith said.
“What is it, Mommy?”
“Marcel. Marcel Solano.”
“Marcel? I love it!” Luca exclaimed.
“Fits him well, Mom.”
“Hello, Marcel. Welcome to the Solano family.” Judith said as she stroked his hair.
“Tomorrow is ‘Solano Family Campout Night’ and I guess we will have to get another bed thing for him.”
“Yes! Campout night with Marcel!” Lisa yelled.
“Yes, he is in for a wild evening.”