Part 7: Independence Day
JULY 4th, 1848
There is a point in all road trips in which one wonders if they've made a really big mistake and should call it off immediately. For Cyrus, despite months of anticipation, this happened within his first mile out of Independence.
Insects swarmed the slow moving wagon as the sun baked black shadows onto the flat landscape and the kids were already becoming fussy. Baby, mercifully, could not cry on account of lacking a face.
I've made a huge mistake.
What was that, dear?
Erm, I didn't say anything. Why, did you hear something?
Minutes turned into hours and hours turned into days- but pleasantly uneventful days. While rummaging around for an apple, Cyrus was shocked to note the rate at which they were plowing through their food reserves. Between the five of them, they had each somehow shovelled down 3 pounds of food a day... more than that, cause Baby doesn't eat! Cyrus was never very good at math, but a quick calculation told him they'd be out of food in about 133.3-repeating days!
Alright, family meeting. EVERYBODY GATHER 'ROUND.
What's the matter, dear?
Listen, we are tearing through this food like a gang of hobos crashing a birthday party. Waffles, I know you're a big kid and you have a food item for a nickname, but let's try to limit the intake, ok? Personally, I don't eat more than two pounds a day, tops. Where is all our food going? I'm looking at you, Sarah Jane...
Sarah's piggish face was starting to tense at the corners and it was somehow even less attractive than usual. She covered her hideous mug with her hands and began to sob high-pitched pig-like squeels, throwing herself dramatically onto the boxes in the back of the wagon while the family looked on. It was awkward.
Honey... it's not Sarah, it's... me. I didn't want to tell you like this, but I'm, I'm eating for two.
Cyrus' stomach leapt from his chest; metaphorically, of course. On the one hand, another shot at a real son hung like an impossible dream just out of reach. Dare he hope? On the other hand, there was something suspicious about this baby news...
Dear, I don't remember making the act, if you see my meaning. How did this happen?
OH! Don't you remember, it was your... our anniversary?
Cyrus didn't remember, but he'd have to think about it later. Sarah Jane had transitioned from truffle-rooting position to screaming like a banshee. Cyrus instinctively knew why, but he had hoped it wouldn't come to this. In the distance loomed Kansas River. Sarah Jane's omnipresent shriek startled the wildlife drinking at the shallow bank of the river long before they pulled up alongside it.
Cyrus dumped himself out the side of his wagon with a grunt, hopping on one foot as he struggled to remove his boots and wool socks. Calmly he began to trudge into the water. It wasn't a particularly wide river, nor was it particularly deep. The water came up to shins.
See, Sarah Jane, nothing to be worried about!
Waffles had already stripped down to his underpants and was flopping around in the muddy water like a dying trout. At the realization that drowning was practically a logistic impossibility, Sarah Jane's wail trailed off like an ambulence zooming away into the distance.
Well, I'm not going in! And I'm not helping wash the clothes!
These kids are fucking worthless...
Eventually the family had washed up, cleaned themselves off and eaten. It was time to continue the trek. Sarah Jane's gaze darted around nervously.
Uh... how are we supposed to get the wagon across?
Well, goons, what do you suggest? I can only imagine.