A few minutes after the hilarity had calmed, when everyone wiped the last tears from their eyes and huffed their last giggles, Jonathan emerged from his room, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. The 17-year-old boy laughed at his mother briefly; she was still clad in her suave and sassy getup, but this was certainly not abnormal in the Shines’ household. Bruce, Deboooooraaah, and Rachel were munching the last bites of breakfast, still making silly remarks and chuckling here and there. “Breakfast is on the stove,” Bruce announced between sips of coffee. “Thanks da,” replied Jonathan within a yawn. He took his seat at the average-sized, round wooden table, and with a half-smile, addressed his mother, “So what’s the occasion, Deborah?”
She startled all of them as she quickly stood up, whipped the boa around her neck, and theatrically outstretched her arms, “IT’S DEBOOOOORAAAH!” The laughter was renewed partially by surprise factor and partially because of her proclivity for well-timed punch lines. Rachel fell out of her chair again. Jonathan ran swiftly to help her back into her seat, and between giggles, said, “What a relief. I thought another pet fish had died and we were going to hold another ‘Funeral of Extravagant Consequence’ again.” Each of them let loose a few more snickers, as that is exactly what happened when Douglas the Goldfish was found belly-up in his bowl, and their mother had attempted comedy to ease their grief. Let it be noted that this is not an effective way to announce death, as Rachel and Jonathan were still just as heartbroken when she finally admitted the reason for excessive comic relief so early in the morning. Let it also be noted that this sort of behavior was frequently to be expected, and it is this joy and laughter that brought such brightness to Rachel’s demeanor.
After everyone had eaten their fill and scraped their plates in the garbage, leaving them stacked in the sink for Mother to clean later on. Rachel and Jonathan ran to get dressed and bolted out the door. With a gleeful skip, Rachel kicked up leaves and twigs and other forest debris as she and Jonathan made their way along a trail in the woods. After a few hundred feet of Rachel humming a merry tune, Jonathan smiling in tow, he asked her, “What were you fussing about last night on the couch? You said something…” he chuckled deeply in his chest, “… about nuffinty blumputs or something like that?” At the mention of the ridiculous words, Rachel froze in her tracks and turned to him, “What? How much… I mean, how much did I say? What did you hear?” she seemed slightly ashamed that she had spoken any of it out loud; her embarrassment appeared on her cheeks. “Not much,” he shrugged, “Just a few funny words and stuff. When I saw you flailing, I tried patting your head a bit to calm you down, but I don’t think the nightmare ever really stopped… What’s a jobbity? And what does its brigobrough look like?”
She turned to continue walking, Jonathan still somewhat behind her. “It’s not really about what any of that is, per se,” she explained. Jonathan raised an eyebrow as she continued, “It’s more about what I think it is when I’m facing it. Like, you know how there are things you’re afraid of for no reason, like the dark and open waters and stuff like that?” He thought for a second before answering, “No, not really.”
She sniffed humorously, knowing that Jonathan had very few things he was ever actually afraid of, “Well, us normal people get scared of ridiculous things, and it doesn’t matter much what they’re named or what they look like. We’re never actually afraid of anyone or any thing, though, we just think we are. But what we’re really scared about is whether or not we will be able to survive when we face it.” She looked at him for a reaction. He seemed to be thinking, but maintained the peaceful smirk he always had on his face. “The important thing isn’t what I was fighting or how strong it was or anything like that. Even clowns intimidate people. The problem is I always question myself and ask ‘can I do this? Do I believe in me?’ and that’s always the point when I don’t win.”
“Do you always face it alone?” Jonathan asked. She seemed surprised by the question, “Well, yeah. It was my battle. It was my monster. It was like that time you fought to reel in that fish all by yourself when we were at the lake with da.” He smirked a little wider, “Well, yes, I was the only one reeling it in, but I was never fighting it by myself. I don’t fight any ‘battles’ by myself. I’ve always got you and da and ma and friends and stuff. You weren’t tugging on the line like I was, but you were there with me. That’s why I’m not afraid. I just know I never have to go it alone. I guess that means I’m never the only one that has to believe in me.”