Lemonade stand

Written in response to: Start your story with the flickering of a light.... view prompt


Fiction Friendship Middle School

“Did you see that?” Tom was the scaredy cat of our group.

“Of course we saw it, Tommy,” Jonah’s response was dripping with eye-roll. He was the sarcastic, outgoing, loudmouth of the group. 

“It’s fine,” I replied calmly. I’m Mal. The girl of the group. But also, generally, the most level-headed one. We were prepping our lemonade stand, so I went back to stirring the ingredients in the pitcher.

“How can that be fine?” Tom was chewing on his cuticle, but crammed his hands in his pockets the second I looked his way. “The lights just did a crazy on-off flickering dance. That’s not normal.”

“Dude, the lights flickered,” Jonah really did like Tom, but had no patience for his nervousness in moments like this. “It’s not that big of a deal.”

Tom couldn’t keep still now. He paced around the kitchen, no longer helping in any way.

“Tom, how many cups do we have? Can you check?” I tried to give him something else to occupy his mind. Jonah interrupted my plans though.

“It was a pack of 40,” Jonah said as he put the finishing touches on our sign.

“Oh, right, right,” I said. My mind was searching for something else for Tom to do, as he had stopped pacing but was now just staring at the lights that hung above the kitchen island. “Tom, could you grab the tape from the drawer over there?”

“Tape?” He said, still looking up, distracted.

“Yeah, for the sign?” I urged him on.

“Of course, the tape,” Tom said, shaking his head, trying to physically shake himself out of his nervous state.

But then the lights flickered again. Worse and longer this time. A full five seconds of on and off in what felt like some kind of morse code pattern. If only one of us had stuck with scouting, maybe we’d have been able to interpret it.

“Ok, yeah, we can’t ignore that,” Jonah said, all three of us now paused mid motion and looking at the lights.

Then the lights went out.

“Ok. It’s alright. Just a power outage. It’s a hot summer day. That’s a thing, right?” I said, trying to fulfill my role as the calm rational one but secretly freaking out a bit on the inside.

“Yeah. Yeah, that’s totally a thing,” Jonah said, capping the marker and picking the sign up off the counter. “Let’s get this party started!” He started walking toward the door.

“What are you talking about?” Tom sounded incredulous but still grabbed the tape, cups and napkins and followed Jonah to the back door. “The power’s out! We can’t have our lemonade stand.”

“Of course we can,” Jonah said flippantly, totally brushing off Tom’s concern. “You have a lemonade stand outside. You don’t need power for that.”

Tom looked at me, trailing behind as I tried not to let a drop of lemonade spill from the two very full pitchers in my hands. I smiled gently at him to reassure him. Jonah was actually right here.

Tom nodded at me then kept following Jonah. “Yeah, you’re right,” Tom said, then he took in a big gulp of air. “Sorry guys. I know I can freak out easily. Those lights were crazy though, right?”

“Totally,” Jonah said, lining the sign up in front of the folding table we had set up earlier. He looked to Tom and held out his hand. “Tape?”

“Oh, right,” Tom said, handing Jonah a piece of tape off the roll. “What do you think it was though? What did it mean?”

“Mean?” Jonah was starting to get impatient again. “Dude, it was just the lights flickering before the power went out.” Jonah snapped his fingers at Tom. Tom jumped a bit, then realized Jonah just wanted more tape.

“I’m with Jonah on this one,” I said, setting the pitcher down as carefully as possible on the table. “Just a summer heat power outage thing. I’m sure the lights will be back on soon.”

“In the meantime, let’s focus up,” Jonah plopped down on a folding chair, crossed his legs and leaned back. “Time to make some serious lemonade money!”

“You do realize the most we’re going to make is like $15, right?” I said, sitting down next to Jonah to be sure there was a buffer between him and Tom.

“Oh,” Jonah said, uncrossing his legs and leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees.

“Five bucks each!” Tom said happily, stretching a bit next to the table. I’ve noticed that he likes to stretch and move around after his moments of anxiety. I think it helps him feel at home in his own body again. “We can go get ice cream this afternoon!”

“Not if their power is out, too,” Jonah said, even more defeated.

“Oh, right,” Tom said, coming up from a toe-touch. 

“What can we even get with 15 bucks?” Jonah said, studying the ground, not wanting to let us see the disappointment on his face.

“How much money did you think we were going to make from a lemonade stand?” I asked Jonah.

“I dunno,” he said, then mumbled quietly, “Like twenty bucks each?”

Tom and I burst out laughing. We couldn’t help ourselves! How were three sixth graders going to make $60 with two pitchers of lemonade?

Jonah sat back up and smiled at the sight of me and Tom cracking up. “Yeah, ok. I guess I didn’t really think that one through.”

I wiped a tear from my eye and Tom let out a big sigh as our laughter wound down.

Tom got back to his stretches and went to do some high knees and... Wham!

His right knee slammed the underside of the folding table, sending everything on it, including the two pitchers of lemonade, tumbling to the ground.

We all hustled to pick up the pitchers, but by the time Jonah and I got to them, they were nearly empty. Jonah dumped what was left in his pitcher into mine, but it was still only about a quarter full.

Tom set the table back on its legs. “Sorry guys,” he said, his head hanging.

Jonah grabbed up three cups from the ground, snatched the pitcher from my hand and poured us each a cup of lemonade. “That’s alright,” he said. “What would we have done with fifteen bucks anyway?”

June 10, 2022 17:00

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