“Let’s call this meeting to order,” the peas said in unison.
“Do you all have to talk at the same time? It’s creepy,” the celery said.
“I don’t want a meeting,” a carrot said. “I just barely escaped the relish tray.”
“The radishes didn’t make it at all,” the celery said. “I suppose we should be grateful to be here, despite the meetings.”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” the carrot said. “I’m not thinking about relish trays. Lalala. I can’t hear you.”
“Oh darling, you can’t keep burying your head in the sand like this. There are always more relish trays,” the cauliflower said.
“I don’t care,” the carrot said.
“You can’t talk to cauliflower like that!” the broccoli said. “I’m going to smash you into puree and hide you in mac and cheese.”
“Calm down dear,” the cauliflower said. “I think the poor thing is traumatized.”
“The time scheduled for chitchat is now over,” the peas chorused. “The first item on the agenda is the seasonal rotation.”
“The more things change, the more they stay the same,” the cabbage said.
“But if change is a constant, can it really be change?” the onion asked.
“Every rule needs an exception,” the cabbage said.
“But is that the only exception to the rule?” the onion asked.
“Can you guys stop talking in riddles for a second?” the celery asked. “We really do need to figure out the rotation. If I get stuck at the bottom of the drawer to wilt, I’m blaming you.”
“Time’s up,” the pea said. “The celery’s request is noted. Everyone else will follow the schedule posted behind the mayonnaise last Tuesday.”
“What? Where?” the carrot asked. “How were we supposed to know that? Two weeks ago you left it under the mustard.”
“Submit your request for further information by leaving it under the pickle jar tomorrow at midnight,” the peas said.
“The pickle jar?” the carrot shuddered. “I’m not going near the pickles. I have a perfectly healthy aversion to the undead. I think I’d rather not know the schedule.”
“Next item on the agenda, health checks,” the peas said.
“Thanks to the fridge clean up yesterday, I think everyone is good,” celery said.
“What is health?” the onion asked. “Can we really consider ourselves healthy if we’re all just waiting for death in one form or another?”
“Yet what is death?” the cabbage asked. “Do we but sleep or is it life on another plane of existence?”
“Can it not be both?” the onion asked.
Just then, the tomato tumbled over the edge of the drawer and blushed scarlet. “Hi guys.”
“Are you okay honey?” the cauliflower asked.
“You were visiting the fruit bowl again, weren’t you?” the broccoli asked. “If you like them so much, you should just stay there. I don’t think tomatoes belong in the vegetable drawer anyway.”
“In the dark, can you tell who is an enemy?” the cabbage asked.
“I wasn’t talking to you,” the broccoli said.
“Calm down, dear,” the cauliflower said.
“The next item on the agenda is our plan for world domination,” the peas chorused.
“What? That can’t be right,” the celery said.
“I didn’t hear anything,” the carrot said. “I think I need to go now.”
“What is the point? More power, less power, what good will it do?” the onion asked.
“You know what, I think I don’t belong here. I’m pretty sure I’m actually an herb,” the celery said.
“The herbs will be first,” the peas said.
“I think you may have gone bad, dears,” the cauliflower said. “You aren’t sounding like yourselves at all.”
“Initiating health scan. Anamoly detected. Self-destruct commencing in two hours and twenty minutes,” the peas said.
“Does that mean the meeting is over?” the celery asked.
Isaac was at the register at the hardware store when he saw the clear plastic tub of rubber ducks. They seemed so out-of-place next to the screwdrivers and gum and tape measures arranged on the shelves nearby. He shifted the dryer hose and wooden dowels he was carrying so that he could pick one up.
He looked down at the cheerful, smiling yellow duck. Charlie would love it, and he’d need some cheering up today. He added it to his purchases.
He arrived home just in time for dinner. “Did the new dinosaur book come today?” Charlie asked.
“We didn’t get any packages,” Marianne said.
“Maybe it will come later,” Charlie said.
Isaac sighed. “Actually, I got an email today that said that the book is delayed.”
“What? Why?” Charlie asked. “It was supposed to come out today.”
“There was some sort of printing error and they need to fix it,” Isaac said.
“But when will it come out? Tomorrow?” Charlie asked.
“The email didn’t say. But, look!” Isaac held up the rubber duck. “I got you something else instead. It’s a bath toy. I had one like this when I was younger.”
Marianne frowned. “Bath toys collect mold.”
Charlie shrugged. “I don’t like baths anyway. I like showers better.” He took the duck from Isaac. “He looks happy, doesn’t he?”
“Maybe instead of a bath duck he can be a desk duck,” Isaac said.
“Then he can help me with my homework,” Charlie said. “Do you think he’s any good at fractions?”
Isaac laughed. “Maybe, but I wouldn’t count on it.”
After dinner, Charlie took the duck to his room. Isaac helped Marianne load the dishwasher, and then went to check on him. Charlie was sitting at his desk, looking at the rubber duck.
“Are you okay?” Isaac asked.
“Yeah. Just disappointed, I guess,” Charlie said. “My friends and I were going to read the new book at school together tomorrow. I was really looking forward to it.”
“It’s hard when plans change last minute,” Isaac said.
Charlie sighed. “Yeah.”
Isaac sat on the chair next to the bookshelf. He looked at the shelf of dinosaur books. “Maybe we could write our own book.”
“But books take a long time to write,” Charlie said.
“Tonight we could just write the first chapter,” Isaac said. “It would give you and your friends something to read together tomorrow. If they like it, maybe we could write more.”
“But what would we write about?” Charlie asked.
Isaac looked down at the rubber duck Charlie was still holding. “The dinosaurs and the rubber duck.”
Charlie laughed. “It would have to be a big rubber duck,” he said.
“Big enough for the baby dinosaurs to ride on when they take baths in the lake,” Dad said.
“And then the aliens beam it aboard their spaceship when they try to kidnap a baby dinosaur,” Charlie said.
“And then they hold it for ransom,” Isaac said.
“I could draw the ransom note,” Charlie said. “They’d send it with a picture of the rubber duck and say it was a baby dinosaur. It would be funny.”
“Then the detective dinosaur could catch them and put them in jail,” Isaac said.
“I like the detective dinosaur,” Charlie said.
“Me too,” Isaac said. “And the baby dinosaurs can help him find clues.”
“I’ll get some paper out,” Charlie said. “This is going to be fun.” He put the rubber duck on the desk and gave it a pat. “Don’t worry little duck,” he said. “The detective dinosaur will save you.” Then he got out the paper and some pencils and they started writing.