I was enjoying a quiet evening at home with my children. Gideon was calmly playing upstairs. Clara was looking at a book on the couch. Lydia and I were looking at some things on the computer. It was peaceful. It was nice. Things made sense.
“Hey Clara,” I called carelessly over my shoulder. “Check out this chicken here on the computer.”
She leaned over us and nodded. “Oh, cute.”
“It says his name is Newton.”
She chuckled. “Oh, I get it. That’s funny.”
I shook my head. “What’s funny. Do you know someone named Newton?”
She looked at me like I was insane. “Of course we know a Newton, Dad. Newton Ninja Turtle.”
“No no no no, whaaaaa—-” I blacked out for a few seconds from shock and when I came back she was still leaning over me looking at the screen.
“Oh, and look at that, Lydia,” Clara said, pointing at another chicken. “This other one is named Daisy.”
“Ah, I understand,” Lydia gestured with her own hand at the bird. “Like Daisy Crocket.”
“Yes,” Clara agreed.
“Actually, No,” I croaked weakly with a dry throat.
But they didn’t seem to hear me. Instead, as if they had rehearsed it, the girls simultaneously started to sing the song. “Daisy! Daisy Crocket! King of the wild frontier!”
“That’s not how that song goes. That’s not how any of this is supposed to be happening.”
They just rolled their eyes at me and kept singing.
At that moment, a very excited little boy heard his sisters singing and came barrelling down the stairs into the room. And he added a high pitched squealing to the confusion that was already heavy in the air. “Weeeeeeeeee! Weeeeeeee! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” He shrieked, eyes closed, head back, like a pig that had just been dropped out of an airplane only to come proudly landing in our downstairs family room. “Weeeeeeeee! Weeeeeeee!” He ran circles, clenching his fists to squeeze every ounce of delirious nonsense into his horrific squeals.
I was flung backward off my chair as the three of them suddenly exploded into discordant laughter. I fell over, attempting to get away from them and the terrifying sounds they were producing.
“What in the world is going on? Why are you making that terrible noise, Gideon?”
Lydia bent over my body and explained, her face much to close to my own. “Oh, he is saying Wheat. Like what you make bread out of. Wheat! Wheat! Wheat! He’s been doing that all day.”
I flinched and squinted one eye. “But, WHY? Why is he doing that?!?”
She stood back up and shrugged, staring off into the middle distance. “I don’t know. I never thought to ask.” She turned to look at her little brother. “I guess he just likes how it sounds.”
The little boy stood on a recliner with his hands on his hips like Peter Pan. “Yes. I just likes how it sounds,” he said proudly. And then he took a deep deep breath and crowed with all his heart, at a pitch I did not think possible for a human to even produce, “Wheeeeaaat! Wheeeeeeeaaaaaaaat! WHEEEEEEAAAAAAAT!”
I closed my eyes, and rolled over, my wailing drowned out in “Wheats!” and another exuberant duet of Daisy Crocket from the two dancing girls. I wept for the quiet evening I just moments before had been sure would last forever. But it was gone. One of the most terrifying beauties of nature is how quickly it can transform from serenity to dreadful violence. I clawed at the floor and frantically tried to burrow into a hole for safety, but it was too late. The three of them pounced on me like a pack of wild hyenas, relentless, and hungry for blood.