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Matt and I are skateboarding home from school, when I hit a rock and go flying onto the sidewalk. My knee gets scraped but something more valuable than a body part ends up shattered—the screen on my phone.
“My mom’s going to kill me,” I tell Matt. “She just had this fixed from when I broke it last time.”
It’s only been a couple months since I dropped my phone out the car window trying to snap a photo of a dog in a taco costume. Thankfully, I captured one salvageable picture and was able to turn it into a LOL-worthy meme with a little help from a cool sunglasses filter.
“We need to get helmets for our phones,” Matt suggests. “They take more abuse on these boards than our heads do.”
I run my finger across the screen. “It looks like it’s trapped in a giant spiderweb.”
“It’s not like you can erase the crack with your finger,” Matt says. “I think you’re going to have to come clean to your mom.”
I tuck the phone back into the pocket of my shorts. I might have to encase my phone in something more protective—maybe bubble wrap or foam. For a minute, I think I’ve come up with a great invention until I realize my phone would be safe but I’d never be able to actually USE it.
Even with insurance on all the family phones, Mom complains about how much money it costs to maintain them. She doesn’t need to say that it’s mostly me—and sometimes Dad—because she’s still using the same phone she got years ago. My favorite phone accident was when we were at the Thompsons’ house and Dad took my phone away because I was running around their pool. But then he didn’t look where he was going and fell into the water with BOTH our phones. Dad tried to mitigate the tension in the car by joking that our smartphones were smarter than we are, but Mom was still furious the whole way home.
After I leave Matt at the top of his street, I try to come up with a good story for yet another broken phone. Maybe some guy knocked me over and tried to steal it? Or it fell out of my pocket while I was rescuing a kid from getting hit by a car? Whatever I end up saying, Mom will probably realize I’m making it up and I’ll have to tell the truth anyway. Knowing when I’m being less than honest—in other words, lying—has always been one of Mom’s superpowers.
When I get home, both my parents are cooking in the kitchen. Mom’s wearing scrubs from her veterinary practice next door and Dad’s in his workout clothes, which means he just got back from the gym. Mom’s latest culinary obsession is using her new pasta machine and she’s got Dad halfway across the kitchen holding a long string of dough that she’ll cut into noodles on the wooden cutting board. Mom’s had a lot of cooking fads over the years but her handmade pasta is one of the better ones. If she grounds me for breaking my phone again, at least an awesome dinner can be my consolation prize.
The pasta machine is in the same place on the counter where Frank’s crate used to be and every time I see it, I think about him. Frank is the capuchin monkey we used to be a foster family for until he had to go back to the foundation that trained him. Having a monkey as a roommate was one of the best things ever but we all knew sooner or later he’d have to go back. (Thanks to me and my dreams of YouTube stardom, it was sooner rather than later.)
Don’t get me wrong—I love the pasta machine—but it’s no monkey.
“Guess what?” Dad folds the compressed pasta carefully onto the counter. “Your mom made an awesome score today.”
“I wouldn’t necessarily call it a ‘score,’” Mom says, slicing the dough into fettuccini. “It’s more like I agreed to help someone out and the job comes with some nice perks.”
I can see why they call them perks because that’s exactly what my ears do as soon as the word leaves her mouth.
“One of my patients has a beautiful home in Malibu,” she continues. “Darcy is a tech mogul, on a photo safari at a wildlife reserve in Kenya. She asked if we could dogsit at her place for the long weekend.”
“She needs a veterinarian to dogsit?” I ask. “Seems a little extreme.”
Mom explains that Darcy has several go-to dobgsitters, but all of them are taking advantage of the long weekend and going out of town.
“With her favorite vet in charge,” Dad continues, “she won’t have to worry about a thing. Malibu, here we come!”
My mind ricochets from surfing to hiking to eating clams to swimming. I’ve never had a bad time when we’ve gone to Malibu, and this time it’ll include a second dog to keep Bodi company. I don’t want my broken phone to change that, so I decide to put off telling my parents for a while.
“It’s not going to be all fun and games,” Mom says. “Poufy isn’t like other dogs.”
I ask Mom to explain.
“She’s the only dog I know with her own Instagram account,” Mom answers.
“No way!” I reach into my pocket for my phone but stop as soon as I feel the broken screen. “Wait, this isn’t the person who invented that unicorn game app who comes to your office in a limo, is it?”
copyright © 2019 by Janet Tashjian
Illustrations copyright © 2019 by Jake Tashjian