The house had turned into a war zone. Breakfast alone had escalated into a series of skirmishes between warring factions.
“I’ll take that!” Sophie snatched the box of cereal from Tyler’s hands and smirked in triumph. She shook the last of the contents into her bowl. “Ah, too bad. It’s all gone. You’ll have to have toast and peanut butter…again.”
Tyler glowered at her. Sophie used her fourteen-year-old size against his somewhat puny nine-year-old inches every chance she got. Their middle sister, eleven-year-old Krissy, didn’t even try for the good stuff any more. Since Sophie had achieved teen status, she had morphed into a class-A bully, carrying out incursions into her siblings’ lives with cunning and stealth.
Nothing their parents said made any impression. She just rolled her eyes and increased the assaults when the adults were absent.
“Out of my way, brats.” She slung her hip into Krissy, her elbow into Tyler, and in one fluid movement tapped the callback for her best friend, Liz. “Just fighting my way through these disgusting children,” she said into the phone. Ignoring her siblings’ cries of protest, she gave Tyler a push for good measure.
Emptying the last of the cereal and milk, she slung the box at Krissy, scooped up the bowl and spoon and sashayed towards her bedroom, cooing, “I bought the cutest shirt yesterday. I tell you Liz, my new style is my life…”
Krissy scowled as she slathered peanut butter on toast for the two of them. They ate in silence, until Tyler burst out, “It’s not fair!”
Krissy quit chewing and fixed her eyes on him. “Like Sophie cares.”
“She should care. She used to care.”
Krissy nodded and swallowed. “Style didn’t used to be her life…” They both laughed at her perfect imitation.
“I don’t see why clothes being her life has to make our lives miserable,” Tyler muttered. “We have to stop her. She’s turned into a monster.”
“Clothes maketh the man,” Krissy said.
His sister shrugged. “It was on a TV show,” she explained glumly. “Clothes turned Sophie into a monster.”
Tyler grinned suddenly. “So no clothes, no monster. We need a plan.”
Whenever Sophie was at a football game, or hanging with her friends, Krissy and Tyler cherry-picked the best of their sister’s new purchases. It took them almost four days of fast in-and-out with advanced concealment before Sophie realized her clothes weren’t in the wash and her closet was virtually bare.
Tyler had just taken a new box of cereal from the cupboard when Sophie stormed into the kitchen. She grabbed him by the shirtfront, snarling. “What have you done with my clothes, you loathsome little zit.”
Tyler handed off the cereal to Krissy. “We killed the monster,” he said. “Be nice, Sophie, or you’ll never see your new jeans again.”
Sophie’s eyes widened. But letting go, she shrieked, “You can’t do this!”
“We did it,” Krissy replied. “And as long as you live in this house, if you get mean, your clothes will suffer.”
“You…you…” Sophie sputtered.
Tyler picked up the box of Lucky Charms. “We’ll stalk you,” he said. “You’ll never know when the cereal killer will attack!”
“I’ll get you for this,” Sophie yelled as she dashed for her room. “Where are my new jeans!”
“Ask nicely,” Krissy hollered.
“Where are my jeans, you little rat droppings!”
Krissy got out two bowls.
“Please…you little mouse turds?”
“Close enough,” Tyler said. Battle won, he filled their bowls with their pick of cereal.