Monday, July 17, 2017

Not Animal, Vegetable or Mineral!

                       Not Animal, Vegetable or Mineral!
By Valerie L. Egar

“She’s cheating! That car was orange!” Jimmy yelled from the back seat.
“Am not!” Taylor said. “It was dark yellow.”
Taylor and Jimmy were playing “Yellow Car,” a travel game to see who could spot the most yellow cars within twenty miles. Mom was driving, keeping track of the miles, and Dad was in the front seat keeping score. 
     “I’m calling it as yellow,” said Dad. “Jimmy, you have seven, Taylor four.”
“I’m tired of this game. How long before we get there?”
“We still have a long way to go,” said Mom.  Mom and Dad had two weeks off from work and they were taking Jimmy and Taylor to Virginia to see Grandma and Grandpa. They planned to take their time and sightsee along the way. That morning, they’d left Portland, but Mom wouldn’t tell Jimmy or Taylor where they were stopping that night. All she would say is that it would be a “surprise.” 
“I hope it’s the Grand Canyon,” said Jimmy.
Dad laughed. “That would be a big surprise, since it’s in Arizona and we aren’t anywhere close to it.”
“When’s lunch?” asked Taylor.
Mom piped up. “Same time as when we’re home. Twelve-thirty. You’ve got an hour to go.” Then she said, “Why don’t we play Twenty Questions?” 
Jimmy and Taylor always liked the guessing game and sometimes even played it with their friends. One person would think of something— an animal, an object or a plant— and everyone tried to guess what the person was thinking of by asking questions.  If no one guessed the correct answer after twenty questions, they lost.
Jimmy yelled, “I’m thinking of something.”
Dad asked, “Is it an animal?”
Taylor asked, “Mineral?”  She thought Jimmy might be thinking about his bike because he wanted to bring it on the trip, 

and asking whether it was a ‘mineral’ was a way of asking whether it was an object.
Mom said, “Then it must be a vegetable.” The category ‘vegetable’ covered  more than just the vegetables served at dinner. Everything that was plant life— flowers, trees, fruits were ‘vegetables’ in the game.
“Is it bigger than a loaf of bread?” Dad was thinking about the gigantic sequoias Jimmy read about in school.

“Is it smaller than an apple?
Taylor laughed. She thought she knew the answer, but first, she was going to ask one more question. “Is it red?”
“Cherries!” she shouted.

Jimmy nodded. “Yeah, how’d you know?”
Taylor didn’t tell him that the bag of cherries they’d been nibbling was the biggest clue of all.
Now it was Taylor’s turn, and Jimmy asked the first question.        
“Vegetable?” asked Dad.
“Ah, an animal,” said Mom.
“No.” Taylor said, giggling.
“It has to be one of those!” said Jimmy. “You’re cheating.”
“Well, it isn’t any of those and I’m not.”
“Is it bigger than a loaf of bread?”
“Way bigger.”
“Is it found all over the world?” asked Dad.
“Yes, it is.”
Mom spoke up. If you’re thinking of ‘air’, Taylor, that would fall into the ‘mineral’ category.”
“That’s not it.”
“Is there a lot of it?” 
“Sometimes, yes, sometimes, no.”
“This is too hard!” said Jimmy.  “I can’t think of anything that’s not a vegetable, animal or mineral, that’s found all over the world, that’s way bigger than a loaf of bread and there’s a lot of it sometimes, but sometimes, there isn’t.”
Dad shook his head. “I give up.”
“We’re almost to a rest stop, “ said Mom. “I give up, too.” 
Taylor smiled. “Love. I was thinking about love.”
“Oh my, “ said Mom and smiled. “I think you win the Twenty Questions trophy!”

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Copyright 2017 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied or reproduced without permission from the author.

Published July 16, 2017 Journal Tribune Sunday (Biddeford, ME).

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