Fiction Funny Inspirational

Libby Porter had been raised in a devoutly religious household, and believed there was no problem in the world that could not be solved by prayer. Libby never had any reason to doubt this; so, when her faith failed her and she could not find comfort when she needed it most, she was utterly lost.

Her twin sister, Carla, was hit and killed by a drunk driver when they were 18. Libby’s world collapsed and her faith seemed to be gone, along with Carla. Their home had been quiet and serious even before Carla died, but after, all joy was snuffed out.

She desperately grasped at the spiritual explorations that had previously comforted her. Praying harder. Praying more often. Reading scripture. Reading scriptural self-help. Talking to her parents. Talking to her pastor.

Nothing worked. Libby couldn’t find her God in her heart. For a long time after Carla’s death, Libby’s life was an endless, droning, mind-numbing void of work and prayer and eating and sleeping. It felt pointless. She thought she would never be happy again.

Her pastor told her that she might find God’s joy and comfort in a very unexpected place someday. What did that mean, exactly? She kept looking but all she felt was despair.


One day, about two years after Carla died, there was a frantic knocking on the door. Libby opened it to find Mrs. Murphy from the house next door, looking disheveled.

“Oh, Libby. Thank God. Uh, I’ve had a family emergency and I must leave for the airport. My mother is very ill, and I need to get there quickly. I’m so, so sorry to impose on you and your family, but I need someone to watch my boys until my husband can get home… he’s at a work conference on the East Coast and can’t get home until tomorrow morning. I’m so sorry, I don’t have anyone else to ask…. “

At this, Mrs. Murphy started to cry.

Libby was momentarily speechless, though sympathetic of the situation, of course. Her parents were away at a church retreat, so if anyone was going to help, it would have to be her.

They didn’t know the Murphys well. They were distantly friendly, just enough to borrow a cup of sugar or comment on the nice weather they were having. But not close.

And, oh, those children. Lord, have mercy. Five boys between the ages of 7 and 13. Libby knew nothing about young boys, but from the foul language and noises she heard coming from the Murphys’ backyard on a regular basis; well, she didn’t really want to. There were a lot of unpleasant words and bodily functions that simply did not happen in the quiet Porter household.

Plus, Libby had never been much of a babysitter. Deep down, she preferred puppies.

Libby shook herself out of her musing and put a hand on Mrs. Murphy’s shoulder and reluctantly said, “Of course I will help you. Please take care of yourself.” It was, after all, the Christian thing to do.

So, arrangements were made, phone numbers exchanged, frenetic packing finished, and instructions given. Libby went next door to the Murphys’ house and Mrs. Murphy hurriedly left.

As soon as she was out the door, chaos erupted. 

“I get the first turn on the PlayStation!”

“No way! Fuck you fartface, you got the first turn last time!”

“Don’t call me fartface, fartface, YOU’RE the fucking fartface!”

And thus began the first fistfight between two of the boys, as the other three cheered them on and started placing bets on the winner.

Libby stood in dismay, wondering what she had gotten herself into. What kind of anarchy was this? In these very first moments they had already used two “F” words that Libby had vowed she would never say.

Now what?!

“Ummmm ok… Stop?” Libby said, loudly. Nothing happened.

“STOP IT!” Again, nothing.

She summoned all her breath and screamed at the top of her lungs:


The pandemonium ceased and they all looked up at her, surprised.

“How about some ice cream?” Libby said.

Well, that broke the spell. Ice cream soothed the savage beasts. They ate… and ate… and ate…. and ate. Every time Libby cleaned up the dishes from one snack, someone was asking for another.

“Can we have popcorn?”

“Can we have juice?”

“Can we make mac & cheese?”

“Can we have watermelon?”

Several hours into the snack rotation, which was interspersed with video games, skateboard tricks on the sidewalk, wrestling, jumping on beds, and a few more fistfights, Libby realized that she had been so busy that she had been granted a short respite from her grief.

She was exhausted from all the boy energy, but strangely calm. But before she could think too much about it:

“Libby, I’m hungry. Can we have dinner? What are you making for dinner?”

“Libby, I’m thirsty.”

“Libby, can I have another snack?”

“What?!? NO WAY… Libby is getting us whatever kinds of pizza we want, WITH BREAD STICKS AND SODA!!! Dude this is sick, Mom never lets us get bread sticks and soda!!”

Libby had never been so happy to order a pizza delivery.

After the pizzas, Libby suggested they play a board game. They set up a dusty old Monopoly board, and within 2 rounds the boys decided it was time for a pig pile on top of the board.

Game over.

Libby sat back and watched the writhing mess of boys tangling and untangling themselves on the floor, as the Monopoly board and pieces and paper money were flung all about the room.

“Miss Libby? Can we have dessert?”

Libby suggested that the boys start a movie, and she went out the kitchen to make some chocolate chip cookies from a mix she had found in the cabinet. As she baked, she considered her pastor’s words about finding God’s joy and comfort in unexpected places. These boys were a turbulent mob. Did they even attend a church? She had no idea.

But still. She was feeling a type of serenity that she had not felt in a long time. Hmm, well it was something to think about. But right now, she had to get these cookies to the boys. She placed the cookies on a platter and started to walk back to the hungry (again) boys.

Just as she reached the living room door, she was stopped dead in her tracks by the loudest flatulence she had ever heard. This would never, EVER, happen in her conservative house. She didn’t even know something like that was possible. And how could it come from a child’s body? Libby was flabbergasted.

There was rollicking and uproarious laughter in the living room as the boys congratulated the gas-passer on his tremendous feat:

“DUDE! That was a 10!”

“Totally blowing ASS!”

“Holy crap man, are you ok?!”

“That’s going to register on the Richter scale!”

“Yeah man, they’re gonna be sending scientists around here looking for the epicenter or some shit.”

Libby just stood there, frozen, cookie platter in hand.

And suddenly, she felt something welling up inside of her. She didn’t even know what it was at first, because she had never felt quite like this before. But then it was uncontrollably coming out of her.

Laughter. Deep, raucous, unrestrained laughter.

She had not laughed for real since Carla died. And like this? Well… she had never laughed like this. Not once, in her whole life.

She laughed until there were tears running down her cheeks and her belly hurt, and she could barely breathe.

She eventually composed herself and walked into the living room. The boys were quiet now and looking at her strangely; they had heard her guffawing in the hall. They weren’t sure if maybe they were in trouble.

She set the cookie platter down on the coffee table with a flair and said:

“Dude. That was one huge flippin’ fart.”

The boys’ clamorous laughter started once more, with Libby joining them this time. They all laughed so much it hurt.


That evening there were a couple more fights, a broken remote (catastrophic!), two more rounds of snacks, an exploded 2-liter of Dr. Pepper, squished pizza on the couch, a foot injury from stepping on a Monopoly piece, and many more farts.

Libby eventually got the boys to bed and cleaned up the mess as well as she could. She slept on the couch, more deeply and dreamlessly than she had slept in two years.


She was awoken very early in the morning by Mr. Murphy coming in, returning from his conference. He thanked her many times and apologized profusely for the boys’ behavior. He didn’t know what kind of mischief they’d gotten themselves into, he said, but he had no doubt they’d been unmanageable. 

Libby laughed and replied:

“I think those boys have been my salvation.”

Mr. Murphy looked perplexed, but Libby knew in her heart it was true.

She walked out of the house just in time to see the sunrise, and she reflected again on her pastor's words.

Those rambunctious, crude boys had cracked her open just enough that she could feel glimmers of happiness again. She had been able to laugh, and now she could enjoy this beautiful sunrise.

It had happened: she had finally found the comfort she so desperately needed; in the last place she ever would have looked.

And she never knew it would feel this good.

August 31, 2022 23:57

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Mel Dingwall
11:01 Sep 09, 2022

What a beautifully written story. Poignant yet also funny, I loved it!


Althea Gowen
17:17 Sep 09, 2022

Thank you so much, I am pleased you enjoyed it! And I appreciate your feedback! :)


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Sophia Gavasheli
15:40 Sep 03, 2022

Aww, that was so heartwarming! I really like the way you characterize Libby and the boys.


Althea Gowen
22:15 Sep 03, 2022

Thank you very much, I really appreciate the feedback! :)


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