“Now Momma will have to use this to make other things than just you little sugar monsters pouring it on your food, but I think you can have a spoonful in your milk tonight for dessert.”
The children cheered and rushed for their places at the table. The casserole was eaten in record time and the sweetened milk disappeared to the last drop.
Aaron bathed the little ones while Jessica helped the older ones with the rest of their homework as she did the dishes. The older ones took their bathes and it was Aaron’s turn to read to them before bed. Jessica finished labeling the last batch of stew that she had made that afternoon.
When Aaron came down to see how long it would be before she was done she handed him a news paper wrapped package and said to him, “I had them in the broiler pan while I baked the casserole. I broke up the larger bones with a hammer and you can dump them when you go fishing. I have buried all I can in the garden and I don‘t want the neighborhood dogs pulling apart the garbage.” He nodded his head, took the package and put it with his fishing gear in the basement. When he came back up she added, “I’ll be done cleaning up in a minute if you want to watch some TV together.”
He smiled and she heard the TV go on. It was one of those reality shows. When she came to sit down on the couch with him he asked, “How many quarts?”
“Well I canned it in pints and quarts this time around. It took me three days of chopping vegetables and butchering the meat, but all together I got just over 60 quarts of stew plus the meat in the casseroles and the meatloaf we all have been eating for your lunches and suppers since you came home from hunting on Sunday night. One of your better kills my love. It‘s back to beans and fresh vegetables for a while but it was a nice change of pace.”
“Tony gave me the sugar for helping him. I don’t know where he got a hold of five pounds but I wasn’t about to ask. It just might have been part of his horded share of the truck heist we heard about last month. He wasn’t at work when it happened. I had to take a hammer to it to break it back into a pourable sugar again.”
“Thank you, Baby.
“My pleasure. You want to try for another baby? We have plenty of stored food in the basement larder now. And I know that you have been wanting another one. Next year Andy will be going to school. And I wouldn‘t mind having some fun the old fashioned way again.”
Jessica smiled and pushed Aaron back onto his side of the couch. “Let me think about it while we watch TV.” They watched other people make fools of themselves trying to win some money just to get by for a while.
Up in the bedroom Aaron was lighting candles and Jessica was freshening up in the bathroom. She sprayed a light sprits of perfume on the pillows and got out the box of adult toys from under the bed while Aaron had his turn in the bath. Jessica had just moved the radio into the bedroom when Aaron came in with his hair still dripping. He hugged her from behind as she found a station with some soothing music. She turned around in his arms and they made their way to the bed.
A year later Jessica was walking with the baby Roxanne and tot Sheyenne going to the school to collect her older children along with a few of the other parents. Mrs. Anderson was asking for recipes for some of the vegetables in her garden and wondering how Jessica’s children seemed in much better health them the rest. Jessica told them that now that they had their own kitchen gardens they needed to feed the soil compost and about poor soil verses rich. She also told them about how she feeds her garden with everything that she can including dead vermin and road kill that she bakes first to kill the germs. That explained the bad odors that sometimes came from Jessica’s house. And how nothing went to waste in her kitchen. She also told them she was available to help out in teaching them how to use a canner or food dryer so they could have good home grown food for later use.
Aaron was working harder then ever. There was now a tax on children and he had five to keep in clothing and shoes. Thank the heavens above that they were health. When the health worker came around to check on all the neighborhood children six months ago they had a lot of questions and if it were not for the large garden thriving out back behind the high fence and his stories about hunting and fishing, he was afraid that the authorities would find out about Tony’s sugar and flour stash and that they would have cut Aaron off from the extra food. No one but he and Jessica knew about the storage bunker he had built under the house to hide their extra food in. And time marched on.
Dallas was graduating from high school as valedictorian of the class. He was the strongest and brightest child in his class. Jessica was sure he would go far and she was just bursting with pride. The authorities wanted to take him and do genetic testing on him looking for breakthroughs in health science but Aaron and Jessica were against it. They kept their children close and wanted Dallas to start working on his further education in his career as a lawyer. They got him a job in a working law office. They didn’t want anything to derail their plans even for a short time.
When Dallas wanted to move out of the house Jessica was in tears. “How can I keep you healthy if you are out on your own.” she sobbed. But he didn’t listen and moved in with a few of his friends. His health was not doing well at all a year later when he had to drop some classes do to illness. Jessica and Aaron finally convinced him to return home and he thrived once again despite the fact that Aaron was having a harder time of getting meat in the house and fishing was banned because of pollutants a few years ago. The meat to vegetable ratio was getting thinner. Jessica was even thinning out the older richer stew before serving it. And with Dallas planning to move back out again as soon as he was doing better again, Jessica was beside herself.
But Jessica’s children were almost all grown and soon they would have to be informed as to what exactly she and Aaron had been doing to keep their children healthy all these years. How Aaron would hunt the healthiest children at the schools he was working for, luring them away from the others and killing them for the food that Jessica prepared for her children. Aaron would then fire the larger bones in a kiln at the college to be able to crush them and bury them under bushes and in the landscaping at the schools.
It had worked all these years but to keep their children healthy when they left to live on their own they would have to be told what they needed to do for themselves. It was time to tell them how to butcher, and what was in the Trouble Stew.