L is for Life
Katrin giggled as she hurried into the house with her package. She’d ordered this almost three months ago. It took forever to get here and she wanted to get it open as soon as possible.
“Whadya got, Kat?” Lance was two years older and the bane of her existence.
“None of your business, barf brain.” She tried to push past him to her room and failed. He was only two years older, but he was at least a foot taller and probably twice as wide. Perfect for high school football. Not great for little sisters. “You need to get out of my way or I’m telling mom.”
He laughed that particular laugh that always made her want to scream. “Right. Go ahead. What’s she going to do? Rush home from work so you can walk down the hall? Just tell me what you got. What’s the big deal anyway?”
Before she had time to think of an answer, Lance grabbed the box from Katrin’s hands and headed toward the kitchen.
“Give it back, jerk face! I really am going to tell mom! You’ll be grounded!”
“I’m already grounded.” His laugh sounded more like a snort. “Hey, this says it’s from Vivid Vitality! Did you order that thing from the magazine?” Katrin screamed as he started to tear open the box. “Does mom know?”
“Give it… give it back!” Near panic infused her shriek.
Lance stopped and stared at her. “Mom doesn’t know, does she? Maybe this time you’ll be the one whose grounded.”
Katrin refused to cry in front of her brother, but it felt almost impossible not to. “If… if I let you help will you promise not to tell? I used the rest of my Christmas money plus three weeks of allowance to get that.”
After a brief negotiation in which they both swore not to tell mom about the afternoon’s activities, Katrin and Lance both leaned over the old fishbowl from the goldfish that died last summer. Lance was ready to pour water from a pitcher as Katrin tore open the paper envelope that she’d found packed in rigid styrofoam inside the box.
She peeked inside and frowned. “It doesn’t look like much.”
“Yeah, well, Duke got some Sea Monkeys last year and they moved around pretty good once they came back to life. Until their dog drank them.” He shrugged. “Just dump them in and we’ll add the water.”
Katrin tipped the contents of the pouch into the large glass orb. Lance followed it with three full pitchers of water.
“How long is it supposed to take?” he asked, staring at the fishbowl.
“The package took two-and-a-half months to get here,” said Katrin. “Maybe it will take ten more weeks for it to… Oh!”
As they watched, the water in the fishbowl turned cloudy, then swirled with blue as if someone had dripped food coloring into it.
“Whoa! I don’t remember Duke’s Sea Monkeys doing that!” Lance took a subtle step backwards as the liquid in the bowl turned to something sort of resembling jello.
Katrin’s couldn’t keep the grin off her face. “It worked! It’s exactly like they said!”
“But what is it?”
Katrin poked a finger into the container and the blue goo shifted and seemed almost to look at her.
Lance shrieked, sounding surprisingly like his little sister as the blob started up her arm.
“They called it a Jellymander. Isn’t it cool? The ad said it’s from outer space. I think I’ll name it Jack. I can’t get it too wet though… it’ll keep growing the more water you… Lance?”
Katrin stopped rambling when her brother who was a foot taller than her and probably twice as wide passed out cold on the kitchen floor.
“Uh oh,” she said to Jack. “Mom is gonna kill me.”
The Jellymander bobbed in agreement.
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