Lettuce & Peas

Dorothy enjoyed tea and television. Ever since she had retired, they were her chief pleasures. There was also her husband, Ralph, and she certainly loved him, but he complained about how loud she watched her shows and sometimes he would buy those hideous bagged teas at the supermarket, so she couldn’t in good faith place him on the same level as a Downton Abbey or a first flush Darjeeling. He was more like a Keemun, dependable but much too familiar.

Still, she couldn’t complain about Ralph too much. It was through his hard work they’d been able to afford this house out in the countryside, and she enjoyed living here, away from the noise and commotion of the city. It was peaceful. She could steep her tea while listening to the birds and watching rabbits chase each other across the yard.

Today was especially peaceful because Ralph was gone, which meant Dorothy could turn up the volume on the television as high as she liked. For now, the news was droning on about the Middle East, those kids who disappeared last year, and the upcoming election, but soon that broadcast would end and one of Dorothy’s favourite shows would begin.

Indeed, as soon as she heard the theme music she scooted to the living room and sat down in her chair.

It was halfway through the episode when she heard it: a knocking on the door, followed by a voice: “Lettuce and peas!”

The phrase repeated.

Must be those local farmers trying to sell their overpriced organic vegetables, thought Dorothy, turning up the volume on the television.

But still she heard it: “Lettuce and peas!”

They sure are persistent, she thought. What an odd combination too.

The banging on the door intensified.

“Lettuce and peas!”

“Lettuce and peas!”

Dorothy settled more stubbornly into her chair. Now they were just being rude. And who goes door-to-door selling vegetables at this hour of the evening?

“Lettuce and peas!”

She would not budge. She would not deign to give them the satisfaction. People these days were so ill-mannered, and one mustn’t oblige their impertinence: banging on the door, yelling…

“Lettuce and—”

Finally it was over, and Dorothy returned her full attention to her show.

There were three of them: Mirabelle, her brother Oliver, and the little one the monster called Duncan. Mirabelle couldn’t remember for how long they’d been trapped inside the monster’s lair, but it seemed like forever. Oh, the things they had endured!

But today was the day they would gain their freedom.

Their tunnel was complete.

They waited patiently until evening—

And went:

Through the tunnel—into the outdoors. It was disorienting at first, but they held hands and ran: anywhere: away from the lair!

They saw a house in the distance and headed toward it.

Suddenly they heard the monster behind.

But he was far.

The house was near, and dropping to her knees at its front door, Mirabelle banged with all her might, screaming:

“Let us in, please!”