The Last Shall Be First

By Gwen Angstrom

Speed had never been her strong suit.  Josie was last up in the morning while the little darlin’s spilled Krispy Kreme flakes on the floor for Fluffo, the Labrador, to enjoy. It just didn’t seem important to worry about all that stuff, even though her husband, Geo – short for George, everyone called him George but her – with his buttoned- down attitude and crisply starched buttoned- down shirts (from the cleaners, of course) disapproved.  She got “the look” as she came into the kitchen on the particular morning in question. Her flip-flops snapped lazily on the kitchen tile as she took in the scene.

“Coffee done, Geo?” she asked, with a yawn.

He handed her a mug. “Yes, Josie. But nothing else is, as you can see. Do you think you can manage things,” he flung a hand out to indicate the kids in milk stained pajamas with a few puddling orange juice blops near the refrigerator, “when I leave?”

Her eyes narrowed. “I always do.” Terse. To the point.

It happened in an instant. Geoffrey, the younger, was laughing at his sister, about to fling a flake in her direction, when his face turned red and he struggled for breath. George stood and stared, unable to move.  Josie, however, moved immediately to Geoff’s back, closed one fist over another just above his navel, while he stood on the floor, and thrust upward. Nothing. She did it again and a single hard nugget of cereal shot like a cannon onto the granite counter top to be immediately retrieved by Fluffo.

Geoff gasped for air, got some, and started to cry while Josie gathered him to her and shushed and rocked him gently.  “It’s OK, Bucko, everything’s all right.”

George finally emerged from his trance and looked down at Josie and his son, two tousled heads with at least twenty shades of brown intermingling with the sunshine spilling onto the floor. And then there was JenJen joining her brother and Mommy and Fluffo on the floor. Fluffo licked all the faces in turn, while his wagging tail scattered orange juice spills and Krispy Crème flakes into the corners.  “What a lovely mess,” thought George.

A few minutes later, while Geoff and JenJen colored pictures on the dining room table – actually, some of the colors did mark the table as well as their coloring books, but Josie said, “No problem. My cleaner will wipe it up”- George put his starched –shirt arms around his night- shirt clad wife and held her close.

“I didn’t know you could do that, Josie.  Doing the Heimlich maneuver and moving with the speed of light,” he whispered.

“I’m always speedy when I need to be,” she replied, blowing softly in his ear.

George was just a little late for work that morning.

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